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Is my 7-year-old simply not suited to being 1 of 30, and what can I do about it?(88 Posts)
7-year-old DD is in year 3 at our village primary school. She has a lot of close friends at the school and an older sibling who goes there and is very happy.
DD, however, is not very happy. She is anxious and every night before school and every morning before school tells me that she does not like school and does not want to go, sometimes getting very upset about it. Last academic year was the exception and we hoped she’d out-grown it, but the anxiety returned worse than ever in September. She is able to manage her anxiety, but it is still very unpleasant for her.
DH and I have spoken many times with her teachers, but I just don’t think that a quiet, ultra-compliant, middle-attainment child will ever be a priority in a busy class of 30 children. In fact, there are have been times that I have spoken to her teachers where I’m quite sure they’ve got her confused her with one of the other quiet, compliant girls in her class. I don’t mean to criticise teachers, I think it’s just the sad reality of state education in this country at the moment.
Just down the road is a lovely little prep school with small class sizes and a very nurturing ethos. What’s more, it does a lot of performing arts and music, both areas that DD excels at in her extracurricular activities, but which she rarely gets to showcase at her school.
In short, it seems like the sort of place she’d thrive at.
Why haven’t we moved her? Well, she doesn’t want to leave her friends. Her lovely, lovely friends, many of whom she’s known since they started the school Nursery together at 3 years old and who have supported her through all her fears and wobbles. As much as she dislikes school, it would break her heart to leave them. With the prep school being smaller (18 in the current year 3) and friendships being fairly settled, there is really no guarantee she’d manage to build friendships as close as the ones she’d be losing.
So a nearly-invisible 7-year old who doesn’t want to go to school, but doesn’t want to not go to it either. Who is distressed enough to need to do something, but well-behaved and compliant enough that it does not visibly disrupt her learning and qualify her for any additional help. What would you do?
Move her. She can still keep in touch with her friends.
can you afford it all the way through to 18? if so I'd move her.
Move her, you can still keep the friendships with play dates and parties. My daughter moved this year into Y2 into a school that had other children she knew from nursery butvactuallyvthe close friends she’s made are all new.
Can she articulate what exactly it is that she doesn't like about school, currently?
I'd be v.concerned about moving her to somewhere with smaller class sizes and it not actually solving the root problem, while causing her to lose the close friends she already obviously values highly...
Wow, I didn’t expect so many to suggest moving her. I guess it’s not as cruel as I’d feared.
Filo, how have your DD’s friendships survived? A bit different, but I went to a different secondary school to all of my primary school friends and, despite living in the same village and remaining friendly, after a year the closeness had gone and I was pretty much forgotten. Obviously I had loads of new friends at my new school, but I was very sad to lose my old friends, especially when I would see them out and about in the village together.
Poor love. I'd move her too. Being happier and being noticed will be a massive boost to her confidence, which will in turn help her make good friendships at a new school - and she can keep those friends from the old school.
imho, those y3 friendships seem important now, but she is only 7 - in a short time she'll have made equally good friends, and her confidence and happiness are much more important.
Hard as it is, I would say you are the parent and need to make the decision in her best interests, she is 7 and has no idea what is best for her. I would query whether moving schools would improve any anxiety issues, especially in the short term.
We chose a pre prep with small class sizes for our relatively quiet, compliant dd as we felt she would become lost in a large class. Very happy with pur decision.
We moved DD to a prep school in Y3 but really missed our village school and moved back! How would you feel about having one in state and one in private? I would perhaps try to delve a little deeper and work out the root of her anxieties before making a drastic move. You could even make things worse!
Move her, kids are very caring and nurturing at 7/8 so I'm.sure they would be very welcoming towards her.
My fear exactly lazydog. She struggles to put a finger on it, she just knows she gets the anxious feeling when she’s in school. Last year, when her anxiety was very low, she had a super nurturing teacher and a noticeably calm and positive classroom environment. God knows how she did it, maybe she drugged them!! Her teacher also seemed to know DD very well and DD thrived under her. There are some lovely teachers in the rest of the school, but no more like her sadly. DD has a lovely teacher this year, but she is a bit of a shouter and the classroom seems a less positive place for it.
Sorry that was a bit garbled, I’m on my phone now!
Friendships have totally survived, we’ve never been massive ones for weekly play dates more holidays and parties but we’ve kept up totally. Honestly first day at the new school and she didn’t bat an eyelid, she’s never once complained about the move.
My dd is autistic. We had to move schools in year 3. She was absolutely distraught but I have zero regrets. It was the best thing we could have done. The new school has been perfect for her. Supportive, inclusive and generally amazing. She has thrived there.
DS is doing really well at the village primary and insistent he wants to go to the local (pretty good) state secondary. He a confident high-achiever though so a completely different commodity!
Move her a nurturing school where there will be nurturing caring pupils and they will go out of their way to make her feel welcome.
By all means keep up friendships but give her this chance to see if she will thrive.
I would only say 1 thing, what is the difference between last year's teacher and this? Does this teacher reflect the school or did last year's?
I've only seen it from the other side but the new children that have joined DC's small, independent school have been really well looked after and have settled in very quickly. The school makes sure that 'settling in' is managed well and I haven't ever seen problems of children (even in Y6 and Y7) struggling to fit in with existing friendship groups.
Assuming that you can afford it I would visit the school and seriously consider move your DD. Spending the next x years at school being invisible sounds pretty horrible.
I meant to add that DS could move too if he wanted (although compromises would have to be made financially if they both went private). We had expected to pay for them both to do years 12 & 13 at private anyway as there’s not much decent local provision.
And at the end of prep - what then?
Will you be able to justify the spend to her older sibling?
I teach at a similar sounding prep school and we get new children at lots of different stages and after a term it is impossible for an outsider to tell how long they have been at the school. We often have new children starting for similar reasons and they thrive. Could she do Brownies or something similar to help her keep up with her old friends? I moved schools at a similar age and, although I lost touch with some friends, due to outside clubs, I kept up with some of them. Would a taster day at the prep help you both make a decision?
Last year’s teacher was the exception, sadly. The year 4 and 5 teachers are kind but not particularly ‘warm’, if you know what I mean. The year 6 teacher, has a terrible reputation, but I fortunately I don’t think she’ll last.
Some children just need more nurturing than others. My dd is such a child. She has always loved school but in primary she was often very stressed and anxiuos at the end of each day. She did have a couple of really great teachers, but other than that was just ignored and really didn't get much nurturing... She is now at a small independent secondary school and much less stressed, and really thriving.
I would say don’t under estimate how long it might take to her to settle. I have a 9 and a 7 yr old and we moved last September, for other reasons, but they both were in a similar situation at previous school as your Dd. We moved to another state primary, but is a lovely, nurturing school. Goodness, it had been tough! 7 yr old has only just settled after lots involvement with head, class teacher and extra support from trained ta. He was so unhappy initially he reverted to toddler like behaviour. 9 yr old just got on with it but will constantly reference old friends and School, who they still see, and misses them, despite finding a nice group of friends in new class. People keep telling us “ kids adjust”. They do but can be tough and take a while.
I think I need to go all out one last time with her current school to be completely sure we have tried everything, then if that doesn’t work, get her in for a taster day to see if she likes it (lovely lady at the prep seemed confident that she’d beg us to send her if she did a taster day, apparently they all do )
Do you think I should tell her current school we’re considering moving her? Or will they just write her off as a lost cause?