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My 5 year old ds doesn't have anyone to play with nat school- I feel very low :(

(26 Posts)
littletree Fri 05-Jun-09 09:53:21

My 5 year old is in year 1 (he will be 6 in July) and has spent much of the past year not very happy. He is extremely bright (he was reading fluently at 2 3/4) and is in the top of his class academically. At the teacher's meeting his teachers told me he lived in his own little world and seemed oblivious when some of the other children teased him at playtime. He wears glasses and we just had an operation a month ago to correct his divergent squint. He goes to a lovely village school and the vast majority of the children in his class are great kids. He just doesn't seem to click with most of them. He is not a boyish boy- preferring to have his nose stuffed in a book and says he doesn't want to play games such as boys chase the girls because he likes girls and doesn't want to hurt them. At playtime, he tells me no one wants to play with him and he spends the time walking around in circles, picking the thorns off of the rose bush or sitting on a bench. It is breaking my heart and I feel sick leaving him at school each day knowing that he is unhappy. Just now when I dropped him off he told me he hates school days because he doesn't have anyone to play with. I spoke to the head on Tuesday and she said she would be on the case and talk to his teachers and keep an eye out on the playground.

I so wish I could be a fly on the wall. I don't understand how whoever is on play duty doesn't spot a 5 year old sitting on his own and not encourage him to play with others?

shouldbeironing Fri 05-Jun-09 10:06:25

School should be doing a bit more I think (esp if he is being teased) - give it a few days and speak to the teacher and see what they are doing - my DD went through a stage of having a nominated friend or two for the week who said they would include her in their games at playtime. I didnt like the idea at first as it seemed like forcing a friendship on people but the children seemed happy enough to do this.

Do you already ask other children round to play after school so he gets to play with some of them on a one to one basis. At least then he might see them as friendly faces in the playground.

littletree Fri 05-Jun-09 10:16:55

I know what you mean about the forcing friendship thing. However, sometimes all it takes is for another child to come along and invite them to play so that they feel included and worthy. I think this would be a huge boost to his self-confidence so I don't think it would matter whether the nominated child were asked by another adult or not. The day after I spoke to the head he came home sad saying he was on his own at playtime so I felt a bit peeved that it hadn't been swiftly dealt with. However, yesterday he said that he was sitting on the bench on his own and a year 2 girl came up to him and said 'come with me' and included him in her group of friends playing. So, I am wondering if this was the head intervening. I don't know. Our plan is to go back in at the beginning of next week and have a conversation to see what has been done.
How old was your daughter when she went through this and is she ok now?

littletree Fri 05-Jun-09 10:31:00

Forgot to say, yes I have had children back to play after school. Not recently though, as in not in the past month. Mainly because of half term and recovering from eye op. It's his birthday in July and I am planning a birthday party with another mum of a boy he likes (but no longer seems to play with ds) and we are inviting the whole class. I am friends with many of the other mums at the school and am a class rep and do other volunteer work at the school in the hopes that if I am involved it will somehow encourage him. Is that daft? Just trying anything. He seems to play well with the other kids when they are over but it doesn't seem to translate onto the playground.

HSMM Fri 05-Jun-09 10:36:25

My DD had about a term of 'no friends', so I put a skipping rope in her bag. It gave her something to do when no-one would play with her and the other children soon started to bring theirs and she made some friends. It was a great help to her. (and she's great at skipping now)

littletree Fri 05-Jun-09 10:39:38

great idea HSMM. Can you think of anything similar to pop in his bag? The thing is, he is very uncoordinated (the eye thing) so a skipping rope could be a bit of a nightmare scenario. Anyone have any ideas?

smee Fri 05-Jun-09 10:42:09

littletree, I think the first couple of years at school are bit odd friendship wise, as they switch and change lots. Just keep doing what you're doing, so playdates, and listening to him. Also talking to the teachers about finding ways through it. Am sure he'll start finding a few kids to play with soon.

ronshar Fri 05-Jun-09 10:45:05

How about those little Gogo things. Not sure if that is how they are spelt. My DD1 came home and asked for some. They are little aliens and you have to play on a table/floor and try to knock the other persons alien away. About £2 a pack I think.
I have same kind of trouble with DD1. She in year 4 now. Girls are a different kettle of fish. Always falling out about something. She doesnt really have a friend as such. Seems to play with lots of different groups.

Does the school have a friendship bench? I thought they all had to as part of bulling strategies.

littletree Fri 05-Jun-09 10:49:29

Thanks Smee, he is my precious first born so it is always a mine field about knowing what's normal and what's not. I worry about over reacting!

Ronshar, I'll look into the alien things, I don't know of them but sound a good idea. Could be a good way in.

I have heard of the friendship bench thing but as far as I know his school doesn't have one. I think they sound a good idea though.

slayerette Fri 05-Jun-09 10:52:46

Agree about something like the Gogo Crazy Bones packs. DS collects those and he and his friends swap, and the same thing seems to be happening with Match Attax football cards - which DS doesn't collect but has lots of anyway because other boys give him their swaps!

I do sympathise very much with your concerns because my DS isn't very good at sport whereas two of his 'friends' are really seriously into football. Sometimes DS says that X and Y are mean to him, won't let him join in when they're playing football and so on, and he does get upset and feel worthless. But mums of older boys in the school said that if boys aren't sporty, let them collect these cards or whatever because that gives them an 'in' into another sort of group.

walkthedinosaur Fri 05-Jun-09 10:54:11

This could be my son, he's coming up to 7 now and such a little loner. The only time he really got in with the other boys at school was when he was trading Pokemon cards but then the headteacher banned them, so he was back to wandering round in circles and looking at leaves. His teachers commented on it in his report but didn't seem to do anything about it. He absolutely loathes football which all the boys in his class play so he's on the sidelines there, he's very much a child who is hovering on the outskirts of a group and every couple of months or so he gets very distressed about it and gets really upset over it.

I've started going into school on a Tuesday afternoon and because I'm a bit different (English in a French school) the children are round me like a moth to a flame and of course he gets drawn in then so he plays with the girls when I'm around. He's started taking his marbles in and says he plays marbles with the other boys and this year I've bit the bullet and decided to have a birthday party for him at the end of the month, but I'm really worried that nobody will show up and then he will be absolutely distraught, so fingers crossed.

DH and I have spoken about this a lot and we both were loners at school and still don't have lots of friends although the friends we have are what we could true friends rather than acquaintances.

It's very distressing as a parent and I feel for you, as I tell my son it just takes one person to be your friend and play with so hopefully your DS will find somebody too.

littletree Fri 05-Jun-09 10:59:40

Where can I get the packs? Supermarket? Sounds like something DS1 would like. The lack of sports is a total pain for a boy. I don't mind him not being sporty at all but it does seem that most activities centre around physicality in young children.

His friend (the one sharing the bday party) is a lovely boy but is happy to play sports. So, a group of children have included him in there ball game and left ds1 by the wayside because he's not any good.

littletree Fri 05-Jun-09 11:09:12

(their) I mean.

Hugs dinosaur. It's the worst feeling in the world feeling one's child in pain. I bawl like a baby about it whenever I think about it. (As I have many times this morning typing my posts). Is your son french-born? (ie fluent french, etc.)

I, too, am a bit of an oddity as an american in a small english village. But both my children are half brit and brit born so that doesn't distinguish them.

I do think that our children will often follow our own patterns of behaviour. I am a pretty socialable person and have always made friends easily except for one tiny hiccup switching schools many moons ago. However, DH is very much a cerebral lone wolf who is happiest in his own company or with the family. He never had a problem being on his own as a child. I think it is one thing being happy in your own company though and desperately wanting to fit in.

Dinosaur, I will be crossing my fingers very tightly for your son's birthday party.

Madsometimes Fri 05-Jun-09 11:44:49

Littletree, I have a dd who will also be 6 in July, and she is so similar to your son. Academically, she is ahead of her year group despite being a summer birthday, but socially she is rather behind. She is not very athletic, and cannot run well or skip or catch a ball.

Most of the children she sits with in class like her, but they are all 6 turning 7 in the autumn and are miles ahead of her socially. They will include her in games if prompted, but obviously they are still very young and my dd makes no attempt to push herself forwards. She also walks around the playground in circles, looking at leaves. She does seem to be happy, but as she says she tends to play with herself. She has told me that she plays with a child in reception sometimes, but she does not know her name.

I have asked the teachers to keep an eye on her. I think they do when they remember, but they are busy, and she is not distressed or being bullied. It is very hard.

shouldbeironing Fri 05-Jun-09 11:49:01

Hi again - before you go rushing to buy the Gogos Crazy Bones (we got ours from the Entertainer - but they come and go from other local stores), check whether they are allowed them in school - our school has banned this sort of thing as kids were ehem taking (accidentally??) other children's best ones and of course there were parents who didnt want to feel pressured into buying them so just check first what the policy is.

Also try and suss out what the local "thing" is - it might be Pokemon cards or Match Attax or Ben 10 or Star Wars - our Gogo phase was last year although maybe they are still around - harder to know when they are banned at school.

There are usually a few boys who dont fall in with the football crowd - my DS had loads of friends for a while because of football but this year he has found he isnt as good as the others at football and is being left out - it really hit his confidence so he now plays with a handful of other boys and girls who also dont do football. Luckily there does seem to be a mixed crowd so he is not on his own.

My DD who I wrote about above still has a few problems with friendships - no really good friends but she seems to find someone to play with. She is older now - in the juniors they have clubs and things at lunchtime and can take a few things in to do and there is a mix of kids so usually she can join in with something.

Dinosaur - have you sent out the invites - hopefully you will get the replies in and can stop worrying. To be honest - it doesnt matter if only a small number come along - that can be better in many ways.

littletree Fri 05-Jun-09 12:26:34

Hi Mad- thanks for sharing your similar experience. I think being on your own is ok as long as it is a happy experience. My worry is that is seems to be distressing ds. I also worry that I am stressing him out by asking him about playtime. Maybe I'm drawing too much attention to it by asking him about it after school? But how else to monitor things?

Ironing, good point about the cards. I've just spoken to another mum who told me they are not really allowed them at school for the reason you said. Humph. Also, Pokemon is apparently the thing now. One thought is that I could get him collecting them at home so that he could compare notes with other boys at playtime maybe. I thought I might get him started with Beavers next year as he seems quite keen.

I agree with you that a small party might be just the thing for encouraging friendships for Dinosaur's DS.

Miggsie Fri 05-Jun-09 13:12:53

Keep raising it with the teachers.
DD had a similar problem so the teacher got the children to sit in a circle and say who they liked best in the class and why.
The teacher then makes a mental note if no one gets mentioned by anyone then they started putting "activity" groups together to do something with specific children just before break times and often the groups would keep together during that playtime.
This really helped DD who is quite socially awkward and now she has a good friend and plays a lot with several other children, including boys but it did take a while.

Inviting children to play is good, DD made her good friend this way, and luckily I really get on with the mum!

walkthedinosaur Fri 05-Jun-09 13:20:08

We're going to write the invitations out for the party this weekend and then he can hand them out on Monday, he's really excited and I tried to make the invitations sound as exciting as possible trampoline, water slide etc so that they all really want to come to our house and play. I did actually accost one dad in the playground yesterday and said I'm going to invite your son to a party do you think he'll be able to come (the things you do for your DC's).

My son has dyspraxia so it makes him a bit pants at sport, but he always has a go, but catching a ball and kicking a football are just not his strong points. I think he's waiting for his younger brother to move up a year so that they'll both be in the same playground, but DS2 is a completely different beast, he's the one in the cool gang, Mr Football etc but as long as DS1 isn't going to be alone at playtime anything goes with me.

Language may have contributed to his problems in the past as he started school at 31/2 and didn't speak French, but he's pretty much fluent in 7 year old French now so no problems there and in fact he can quite often be my little translator when I get stuck!

Hulababy Fri 05-Jun-09 13:25:37

In terms of things to take to school...

Have you seen those tiny little beanbag style toys? They are very small. You balance them on your hand and throw them up and catch/balance them again on the other hand, otherside of hand, on foot, etc. Very simple but quite addictive and fin.

Not sure what they are called but we saw lots of them in New York last week, so looked like a bit of a craze there - may well be the next one here.

giantkatestacks Fri 05-Jun-09 13:38:14

In our school its bakugans which are these little balls that open up to show a creature - they all collect them and show them off (reception year).

In my ds's playground they also have this 'bus stop' where if a child is feeling lonely and has noone to play with they stand there and the teacher pairs them up with someone else/another group.

charliejess22 Fri 05-Jun-09 13:47:38

Hi, sorry to hear your son's time at school is upsetting you so much. I am a Year 1 teacher and know that the boys do like Crazy Bones and Pokemon but my school doesn'y allow them in school as they keep getting lost and 'taken'. There is bound to be another boy in the class who isnt so interested in sport so maybe worth asking the teacher to 'recommend' someone that you could invite for tea or to play. If you could maybe talk to some of the mums they could ask their children to include your son in their games. Not all schools have friendships benches but I am not convinced they work anyway!

Nearly all schools employ a Learning Mentor who would be a great person to help as their whole time is spent looking after children who need help, unlike the head or class teacher who, obviously should help as much as they can, but dont always put in the effort that a parent wants/needs.

I know I would always spot children on their own at playtime and find them someone to play with but I know many other teachers who wouldnt!

Hope this has helped and you get something sorted. I taught a boy in year 1 last year who was just like your son (I even wondered when I read your post if you were the person from my school then I remembered he is in y2 now) and now in year 2 he has loads of friends - dont despair x x x

littletree Mon 08-Jun-09 13:15:14


Thanks for your support. I talked to the school and they don't really allow things like crazy bones etc.- so that's out. However, the head said a yoyo or something similar would be ok.

I do have children back for tea and have asked one tomorrow and one on Wednesday. Generally the children are really lovely in his year. I can't say that the problem lies with the other children but more to do with DS's shyness and highly sensitive personality. He's just not good in big groups. He is frightened by rough play. He is miles ahead intellectually (perhaps that's what you meant about the learning mentor?).

hmmm... I am trying not to despair but ache with worry for him.

Today I sent him in with his book and told him that it was perfectly ok to sit quietly and enjoy his book if he couldn't find a playmate.

AhBut Mon 08-Jun-09 14:22:30

I really feel for you - we went through all of this littletree and Dino. DS is now 7 in Yr 2 and my stomach still churns sometimes when I leave him in the mornings. In reception he hated the playground and he used to say things like 'well they all just run around and what's the fun in that?' and would be seen leaning against the wall making up great games on his fingers .......... but all alone. Taking things like Top Trumps in helped as it gave him a focused game to play, though of course it was hard to find many other 4 year olds who could manage those numbers!! Might be another option to Pokemon. We also had match attax banned, which was a shame as he's a great collector! It's better now, as he loves football, which they seem to play ad infinitum.
I think I've had to accept that he's his own person and I'm learning not to put my own stereotypes on him. For example where I'd be lonely in a certain situation, he seems not to be. Unfortunately I also think that kids have to learn the consequences of their own actions - so for example if they have great creative ideas but the others don't want to join in as they don't understand the game, than you have to learn to compromise, and if you don't you have to accept that you're on your own and be happy with that.
As for parties Dino don't worry - IME kids always pitch up for parties, so you'll have a full house and a headache afterwards!

littletree Mon 08-Jun-09 17:06:46

Hooray! He had a playmate today- but he claimed it wasn't much fun because she made him run around a lot and he was 'quite out of breath'. To which I told him it was good for him. Some people are never pleased...

Yes, ahbut. I think that one does have to accept that they have to learn consequences and individuality. It's just so hard- perhaps it's the age thing. 5 is still so tender. In America, he would still be in kindergarten- and yet here he is in the school of hard knocks already...

verygreenlawn Mon 08-Jun-09 17:12:29

I feel for you, we have the same with ds1 (6). He's ahead of the game academically, but really just loves books and reading, science, that sort of thing - basically he's a bit of a geek!

The boys he really likes are all good at football and won't let him join in because he's no good at it. He's generally quite happy to take a book out at playtime, but I find the thought of him sat there on his own reading a book really heartbreaking.

School are aware of the issue but a bit useless - they just say things like they have to leave the children to "find their own friends". In fact we've really got the impression it's seen as ds1's fault that he lacks "social skills".

Only seems to be an issue at school, at parties he joins in and has a fantastic time. Oh well, at least he's not the only one .......

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