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DD doesn't want to start school

(38 Posts)
depp1020 Fri 17-Aug-18 17:32:44

Just before the end of last term in nursery, my DD would become very upset at the mention of starting school. She has a place at the infants school attached to the nursery and her new teacher often visited the nursery to spend time with the children who would be starting in her new class. The new class teacher is lovely.

When my daughter was due to attend an afternoon session in her new class at the end of last term, she would cry every time it was mentioned and was inconsolable on the day in the run up to it. The reason she gives for not wanting to start school is that she says it is too noisy and the teachers will use a tambourine, just like they did in nursery. DD never mentioned it being too noisy during her time in nursery. DD does not have any sensory issues.

DD was also starting to say nursery was boring during the last half term and that she wanted to stay at home. Every time I mention buying her new uniform, she gets very upset and repeatedly says that she doesn't want to go to school.

The majority of the children from nursery are going to her school, and one of her best friends is in her new class. But she says she's not bothered if she doesn't get to play with them as she would rather stay at home. I just wanted some advice as to whether this is usual behaviour for some children, or should I be concerned?

DD is an only child and I have been a SAHM since she was born. Homeschooling was an option I considered but didn't pursue as DD was starting to become very clingy and I was concerned that, as an only child, she would miss out on socialising with other children. She actually settled into nursery a lot quicker than I anticipated and her confidence has really improved. However, she was starting to get clingy again at morning drop off, during her last term at nursery. If we still lived in the area, I would have loved to have sent DD to Dolphin School in Hurst as I feel it has a more relaxed and nurturing environment but, as far as I am aware, a similar school does not exist here in the West Midlands. DD's school, even in nursery, has a reputation of being strict and I don't know whether this is part of the issue, and that she just isn't able to articulate this.

I visited many state and independent schools in the area before applying for a nursery place, but never found a school that felt just right and accepted that I would have to send DD to a good enough school, which most of them were, including the school that she has a place at. But I think my daughter's reaction to starting school is making me question whether good enough is actually good enough.

Thank you for reading; any advice would be much appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
spaghettipeppers Fri 17-Aug-18 17:37:17

In what way is her nursery strict? Behaviourally or are they formally teaching already?

If they're not giving them enough time to play it might account for her being worried about school and having more work to do. Nursery and reception should both be very relaxed (although with high behavioural standards, obv).

I would usually say not to mention school unless she does and be relentlessly positive and cheerful.

Bunnybigears Fri 17-Aug-18 17:41:16

Your daughter is not basing not wanting to go to school an wether the school is 'good enough' she doesnt want to go as somehow she has got the idea that not going is an option. How are they starting them off in Reception? Morning's only first etc? The teachers are well skilled in getting over things like this and she will soon adjust. One tip I have though is tell DD she will have to go to school as you wont be home to look after her and she cant stay home alone (even if that's not true) my kids always used to come round to the idea of going somewhere if there wasnt a stay at home with mum option.

FurryGiraffe Fri 17-Aug-18 17:49:02

But I think my daughter's reaction to starting school is making me question whether good enough is actually good enough

In the nicest possible way, you are hugely overthinking this. Your daughter is nervous. This reaction has no bearing on how good the school is or whether it's 'right' for her. She is four. She has been told she is starting school. She has no real understanding of what this means apart from it's a new place, with new children she doesn't know and which is not the nice safe spaces of home and nursery. From her perspective, being nervous about it is entirely rational.

I would usually say not to mention school unless she does and be relentlessly positive and cheerful.
This. In spades. Cheerful, positive, firm that not going isn't an option. Reassure her that it's normal to be nervous and a bit worried about it.

PerspicaciaTick Fri 17-Aug-18 17:51:05

Stop asking her why she doesn't want to go. Read lots of books with her about school (Shirley Hughes has written a lovely one) and talk about the good stuff e.g. DD is doing some drawing, you praise her for her fab drawing and mention "I bet they do lots of drawing in school." or you are reading together and you suggest "I wonder if they have lots of new story books in school." Then drop the subject, keep it light, brief and positive.

depp1020 Fri 17-Aug-18 18:02:04

spaghettipeppers - the school is strict when it comes to behaviour, but also formal teaching I think. Children in Year 1 are streamed so that some of them are working with Year 2 children in the mornings. DD was given a weekly sheet to practice writing her name several times during the latter half of nursery but she did not enjoy completing this. On reflection, I do feel she is being pushed to do this before she is ready. DD really enjoys role play and can immerse herself in this for hours at a time at home.

I have avoided the topic of school but I wanted to buy her school uniform today and DD became emotional again. I think you may be right in that the children may not be getting the opportunity to play as much and are having to do formal work too; DD mentioned something similar this afternoon. I honestly don't think she'll bring up the topic of school at all and three more weeks will have gone by, and school will be upon us.

OP’s posts: |
AliciaMayEmory Fri 17-Aug-18 18:02:51

My youngest was just like this and he'd already spent a year hating nursery, even though the staff were all lovely and he had some great friends. He just preferred to be at home. The teachers in his reception class were amazing. They really helped him to settle in and were very nurturing with him, whilst at the same time giving him the push he needed to gain confidence and independence. I agree with pp in that she has no idea if the school is good enough for her, only that it's new and scary. Be positive, be patient (it may take a while for her to be totally happy, it might not happen in the first couple of weeks), and communicate with the teachers. They are usually brilliant at this kind of thing and will see it every year.

PS, I do completely understand why you are thinking about it in this way. She's your baby and you want to protect her. When my eldest started school I was ready to pull her and homeschool before she'd even started and she had no fear of going to school! It's a transition for both you you and will take time to adjust. Wishing you the best of luck smile

depp1020 Fri 17-Aug-18 18:14:37

Thank you for your advice, Bunnybigears, FurryGiraffe and PerspicaciaTick. The children are going full time as soon as they start. We have previously read books together about starting school but I like the idea about keeping the subject brief, light and positive. I suppose I asked DD about why she didn't want to go to school initially because I was concerned about her reaction but haven't repeatedly brought it up. It only came up today because I wanted to buy the uniform. I haven't suggested to her that there is an alternative choice e.g. staying at home with me - that's just something I have discussed with DH in the past.

OP’s posts: |
depp1020 Fri 17-Aug-18 18:18:56

AliciaMayEmory - thank you so much for posting; your experience has given me a lot of reassurance.

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cakesandphotos Fri 17-Aug-18 18:22:47

When is her birthday? Is she only just 4?

depp1020 Fri 17-Aug-18 19:06:11

DD turned 4 at the end of April.

OP’s posts: |
averythinline Fri 17-Aug-18 19:13:00

Is there another school close that is less 'formal'? have the school done a home visit? how did that go?

I can understand why your nervous but if she was getting bored at nursery maybe somewhere with lessons will work out well for her?

light but cheerful and dont mention it much (just buy the stuff she will need yourself maybe nearer the time meet up with one of her friends that are going or try and arrange a joint walk in - well maybe not a joint lots of families make a big deal of first day but sort of go the same way as other people she knows....

depp1020 Fri 17-Aug-18 19:35:41

Thanks averythinline. I would say that all the schools in the area are much of a muchness. The benefit of this one is that it is at the heart of the community, the only state school we could realistically walk to, has a smaller class size than other state schools and several children transfer to the local 7-18 independent school at the end of infants, which we are considering for DD, so she would hopefully know some of the children if she got a place there.

No, the school does not do home visits.

When we moved to the area, we didn't know anybody hence didn't know anyone that attended the school but realised it was well regarded. It is only since DD has been attending nursery that I have realised that the school can be strict and pushy academically.

OP’s posts: |
Lumpy76 Fri 17-Aug-18 19:48:50

Mum of 8 children says Go with your instinct - only you know your child and what’s best for hem!. Legally your child does not have to be in full time education (at school or otherwise) until the summer term 2019 or September 2019 (the start of the school term after she turns 5 - so depends on when in April the birthday falls (before or after Easter) so you have options if you don’t think full time school is the right choice right now xx

cakesandphotos Fri 17-Aug-18 19:58:21

I agree with Lumpy. If you feel your 4 year old isn’t ready, you’re not legally obligated to send her until she’s 5. Does the school offer a January intake? I know our local primary does. Could be just the extra time she needs

Oscha Fri 17-Aug-18 20:10:46

She’s a summer baby-you could defer her for a year, or send her only part time?

depp1020 Fri 17-Aug-18 21:24:11

Thank you for your insights, Lumpy76 and cakesandphotos. Unfortunately, the school does not offer a January intake otherwise this might have been an option. I am not aware of any of the other local schools offering this either. I'm not sure about the option about deferring her by a year because then I think it would be even harder to get DD to start school and she would be going straight into Year 1, which is a lot more formal than Reception (assuming of course the school agreed to this).

OP’s posts: |
drspouse Fri 17-Aug-18 21:27:15

They don't have a choice - they have to let her start in Jan. It's your legal right.

depp1020 Fri 17-Aug-18 21:30:23

Oscha - is part-time an option? I don't know anyone who's done this. Do you mean just send her for mornings only or three days a week, for example? Do you know anyone who has done this and how it worked out?

You have also mentioned deferring her for a year - are children in these circumstances then homeschooled? If so, I think it will be even harder to get DD to start school.

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depp1020 Fri 17-Aug-18 21:35:14

drspouse - would it be too late to request a January start or could I contact the school when it opens in September? Or should I just send them an email and hope that someone picks it up over the holidays? Do you know the impact of doing this when everyone else is sending their children in September?

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drspouse Fri 17-Aug-18 21:41:10

You can do what you like if she's under compulsory school age (the term AFTER she turns 5).
You tell them, you don't ask. It sounds like she might be happier with e.g. part time till Christmas. Some schools suggest they go for mornings only to have the "academic" parts but the school sounds a bit too pushy to me and I'd be inclined to have a day off to do fun things!

Oscha Fri 17-Aug-18 22:34:51

Deferral just means going into reception a year later! Nothing has to happen in the meantime smile

Part time is definitely an option. I know quite a few people who sent their summer borns 4 days a week for the whole of reception. You can also (until she’s 5) just decide not to send her to school for the day if you think she’s tired, or you want to do something else. Legally, she doesn’t have to be there. Realistically, it’s nice to work with the school and work out a plan with them, so the teacher’s not being messed around, but she doesn’t reach compulsory school age until she’s 5, so if you want to send her mornings only, or 4 days a week, or take her out when you feel she needs a rest, or anything else, you’re perfectly entitled to do that. She doesn’t have to go to school this September.

depp1020 Sat 18-Aug-18 08:19:29

Thank you for your responses. I do like the idea of the part time option and will discuss with DH. This could really suit DD as she does get tired. She was still having a two hour afternoon nap until the end of April, when we encouraged her to drop it. Although she could quite easily have continued. Five mornings a week at nursery were just about manageable for her, even during the summer term. So having to go to school full time six weeks later is going to be a huge struggle. I think the part time option may give her the best of both worlds - I will look into it.

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Fatted Sat 18-Aug-18 10:11:10

Being nervous about starting school is totally normal and not at all any reflection of whether or not the school is any good.

The reluctance to go to nursery may purely have been because she knew change was coming. Honestly, the summer term is so hard and I practically had to drag my boys off and out every day in July!

DS2 who's 3 starts nursery school in September. He stopped wanting to go to nursery by about May (we get funding here for 2.5 hours from 2). Once he knew he was going to be going to school with his big brother, he just couldn't be arsed with nursery I think, was complaining all the time about going and was demanding to go to school.

I think once they know change is coming, they do start questioning everything and it makes them nervous. But like others have said, sell the positives. Lots of fun, new friends, lots of activities etc that she won't get at home.

Witchend Sat 18-Aug-18 11:06:54

Being nervous about going to school is perfectly normal. I don't think it's easier for them when they're older.
If you try putting it off for her then she might suddenly decide she will like it, but I think the chances are higher that she'll have longer to worry about it and the worry will grow.
My oldest spent every summer holiday from preschool until year 5 worrying about the change. Within a couple of weeks of being back in September she was fine.

Part time may be an option, but be aware that you may not be able to pick and choose what part time you can have, most likely mornings in school.
I think part time is great for children starting, I don't know why people are so against it. Two of mine started straight in full time (Winter birthdays) and one (Summer birthday) did a week of part time and then full time. I think for two of mine that part time for at least a term would have been much better for them, and it wouldn't have been bad for the third.

What I would do now is not talk about it much. If she brings it up treat it as something casual. "I don't want to go to school." "Really? What would you like for lunch?"
You don't even need to get her trying on uniform etc. Just get stuff that will fit well enough.

If you treat it as not a big deal then you are helping not to build it up in her mind. She will still worry-as we all do when change is coming, but if you seem relaxed about it then it can't be too bad can it?

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