Advanced search

Hand holding for parents of Reception children not settling well

(33 Posts)
SweetnessAndShite Tue 08-Sep-09 16:23:22

My DS1 (4.4yrs) started reception yesterday and had to be prized off me by his teacher whilst screaming and hitting her. Needless to say I was distraught (and also a bit embarrassed if I'm honest). Today was a little better but still had to hand him over to TA who had to carry him in crying.

Thankfully he is fine once he's in there and comes out happy but I was just wondering if anyone else having trouble wanted to hold hands!

All my friends' DCs are excited and can't wait to get in there.

isittooearlyforgin Tue 08-Sep-09 16:33:40

hi there! hope your ds settles soon. am nursery teacher and about to have 30 3 year olds starting my class next monday so will let you know how it goes!!
In the past I've had children who have found it harder to settle than others and while it is very distressing for the parent, it is business as usual for the teacher and they will not be making any kind of judgement about it.All children are different and a good early years teacher will respect that. As long as they settle after about 10 - 15 minutes and it gets easier each day, it will all be fine - just grit your teeth and if it might help to wait round the corner for a thumbs up from the Teaching Assisant so you don't feel dreadful all day.

SweetnessAndShite Tue 08-Sep-09 16:54:13

Thanks, that's a great reassurance. I was OK with it today as I knew he was fine yesterday. Just trying to be firm. He really doesn't do any sort of change (new shoes, whatever) and is very stubborn. He was the same at Playgroup so I have to just ride it out.

Good luck with the 30 3yos!

primarymum Tue 08-Sep-09 19:43:09

If we have a child who comes into school distressed the teacher or TA will phone home as soon as they are settled, which is usually within 5-10 minutes! ( indeed as soon as Mum is out of sight is the norm ) just for reassurance.

piscesmoon Tue 08-Sep-09 19:56:03

Tanya Byron has an excellent article about that very thing in the Times today here
I think she is a very sensible woman- I generally agree with most of what she says-and I think she spot on in this case.

ageingmum Wed 09-Sep-09 10:46:30

Sorry long post

Had to carry my weeping child (4yrs6mths) into reception class for his second day. That was after having to pursue him around the house and garden to get him into the car. No, I wouldnt normally drive but I do struggle to carry him and he literally would not walk.

He had his first day yesterday which started with total chaos as they have no special induction process for new starters - most of the children come up from full time nursery. After half an hour in the classroom I left him with the TA (he had stopped crying). When I picked him up at the end of the day, he charged out of the door, head right down, flinging his coat at me and bursting into tears saying I shouldnt have made him go there. I dont think anything bad happened - he later told me a bit about his day and the teacher was reassuring - but he is not a happy boy.

It is a "satisfactory" school according to Ofsted - I know it quite well having had two older children there until about 6 years ago, and I was a governor there for a few years. It has gone through lots of problems but everyone there tells me it is "on the up" now.

All his nursery friends are going to one of two other very lovely schools but we are just out of the catchment for one, and I did not feel it was right to go to church for the requisite year for the other as we are not a religious family. This was a dumb decision which I now deeply regret.

We are in inner London and when my older boys were at the school it was very mixed both in terms of ethnic mix and social class. The two nearest schools to us, this school and the chuch school, seem to have become much more polarised on both dimensions in the meantime. It looks like all the middle class kids, black and white, have opted for the church school option, whereas the one my boy is attending is now very predominantly working class and with a big mix of ethnic groups, almost all non white. We are pretty middle class (and white, for the record) so I am fretting about him finding a peer group that he can share his interests with (ie Lego and numbers). My oldest son was a bit of a geek who didn't share the football interests of his peers at the school (and also had two left feet so he wasn't very welcome to join in in the playground) and blossomed only once he went to a school with lots of other geeks like him.

We are on waiting lists elsewhere but I am struggling to bring myself to force him to go to school when he is so unhappy about it. Am even thinking, "Why shouldn't I home educate him?!" when I know that I would go mad within 3 months if I tried!

I think it was the rushing out, angry, miserable and in tears, that has upset me most - I am used to prising small fingers off me at big separations for nursery or whatever, but have always been greeted with a happy child at the end of day.

Any thoughts welcome...

gladders Wed 09-Sep-09 13:46:12

ageingmum - do you have your hard hat on as your class/race comments may provoke comment. Not sure why the different mix of children would mean there would fewer interested in lego or numbers?

more generally though, you did choose this school. you went through a process. you are now doubting that decision as he has been unhappy the past 2 days? personally i would wait while longer befo moving him - he might be the same wherever he starts?

FWIW ds was v happy going into his first nursery - ran in age 2 and only vaguely remembered to say goodbye to me. when we moved him a year later he got v upset and i was floored. he got over it.

ageingmum Wed 09-Sep-09 16:46:37

Thank you for your thoughts and taking the trouble to post.

see nickname - ageing mum with teenage sons, so hard hat not needed - sticks and stones etc. I'm just trying to be honest about the things that have changed in the school since we were part of it.

Just had chat with head of foundation stage who was NOT very happy to be flexible about induction period despite promises to the contrary. As they had not made an induction plan, we did - I agreed with my husband that we would send him in this morning, and then tomorrow afternoon so that he could get a feel for the routine of the different parts of the day - and told class teacher this was the plan. Head of foundation stage rang this afternoon NOT happy, saying that I should bring him for mornings only as this would make it easier for him to settle. I said that was fine but that as I had made a commitment to Sam that he would not go tomorrow morning but tomorrow afternoon then we would stick with that. She argued, saying it was not fair on other children, that the school has to have procedures, blah blah. I said it was not negotiable as I had made a commitment to Sam. She said, well, ok, but really it would be better if he came in the morning - this discussion went on for about five minutes although I kept reiterating that it was not negotiable and that she had no power to compel me, that it was Sam's third day for heavens sake so why not be flexible?! Not very impressed with her desire to impose procedures after the total lack of effective procedures on Tuesday morning...

Anyway he DID come out without crying today, although they still managed not to let him have a chance to play with the lego...

Still does not want to go and very bolshy and cross in general but that is fine, I can deal with that!!

I chose the school only in the sense that I put it on the list to ensure that we DID have a school place within a reasonable distance of home as primary places are in short supply here and applying only to oversubscribed schools can mean being allocated a place in an unknown undersubscribed school halfway across the borough, rather than the undersubscribed school he is in now. We do have a January place in a school in a different borough, but it is very similar to this one. We were not offered places at any of the schools I would have "chosen" in a positive sense, including our nearest school, although we are on the waiting list for a couple.

The good thing about his class compared to other reception classes I have seen in the past (in the same school) is that they are at least all able already to sit on the carpet for ten minutes without yelling, running away, hitting any other children or attempting to climb out of the window. Believe me, that is worth a lot!

limonchik Wed 09-Sep-09 16:52:16

ageingmum - I'm also not sure why lego is class or race related?

bigchris Wed 09-Sep-09 17:00:55

agingmum, i really feel for you
it is horrid to see your child so upset
are you allowed to go in with him for a session just to see what is going on?

waitingforbedtime Wed 09-Sep-09 17:05:14

ageing mum - no offence and I completely understand that your child is your priority but I can understand why the school wants you to do things 'their' way. They have a whole classful of kids to consider, not just the ones who get upset. Also a bit confused about the lego and race/class comments??

kys Wed 09-Sep-09 17:13:58

My problem is a little different, my ds started school on monday, half days only. He loves it, goes in no problem at all. But today when i collected him the teacher said he had got upset at storytime because he couldnt sit next to his friend from nursery, he ended up struggling to breathe, shaking and getting really upset. When i got him home he said he felt sick and was really hot, changed him into his pyjamas and snuggled him on to the sofa with a blanket and he layed there shivering for over an hour. Within two hours of being home he was totally fine, running about and eating everything in sight.
What do you think? Just over tired?

laurasmiles Wed 09-Sep-09 20:25:13

Oh I wish I had words of advice but I feel very vulnerable myself as my son is also very 'wobbly' at the moment. He was so excited to go to school and for the first day or so he seemed to be managing but then -NOT.

He's asking to g back to nursery and he's cyring when he's left and throughout the day. I took him out this afternoon so he just had a hlf day to cope with but tomorrow and friday are full days again.

Nothing I say seems to help and I know it's only a matter of time and it's one of life's lessons - dealing with change - that they all have to come to terms with. But there's nothing I find more heartbreaking than sending my child to somewhere he's not happy.

By all acounts it is an excellent school, and it's fairly small and easy to get to .....bla blah blah....I'm trying to remember all the reasons I chose it. hmm BUT - I know that the early years' section isn't the most stimulating and I think it's a bit of a disappointment to him after the wonderful nursery he attended. blush
He seems all anxious and sensitive and not his normal self at all and it's horrible.

So I guess for now though, it's just one day at a time. Let's see how things go for us all tomorrow, and hopefully we will all be finding releif in a few weeks when the shock has died down!!

Hugs to all who need it. x

throckenholt Wed 09-Sep-09 20:30:59

if it is any help - my DS1 screamed and cried every day for the first term at least. He was usually fine once I had gone - I know because I watched through the window a few times. He just didn't like the being left. Like yours he was the same at playgroup. He was only 4yrs 2 mnth when he started school - not sure if the young age had anything to do with it.

He actually loved school and always came out happy. He is now in year 4 and still happy

isittooearlyforgin Wed 09-Sep-09 20:41:06

ageing mum - feel for you ( and other mums of unsettled reception kids) - think that there should have been induction - we do home visits, staggered entry and then are happy to allow children to come in smaller time slots to adjust. We would do our utmost to make sure that children are happy and settled(I understand school's reticence to allow ad hoc entry but think that it is in everyone's best interest to settle children in and until kids are happy and confident they can't learn so induction period would have been a great help)
I do think its a sign of a not great early years unit that doesn't put children's needs first. If he is very distressed, you do know he doesn't have to be in school at all until the term after he is five so you have every right to withdraw (in which case a place at a more understanding school could come up) or send half days. It is a gamble though.
I think leaving a young child in tears is really hard on parents.

ageingmum Wed 09-Sep-09 20:42:12

kys - Maybe just over tired and over stressed and maybe a bit of a bug too? Or low blood sugar - my middle son used to get very shaky and emotionally fragile at the end of the day till I realised he really needed to eat something as soon as he got out of school to stabilise his mood. Seems to have grown out of it now.

Sorry, I wasnt saying lego and numbers are class or race related (doh) but his interest in them reminds me of my geeky oldest in that he likes to count up to very high numbers and follow long complex lego instructions which was also fine for my oldest at 4 but didnt really cut it in the playground once they got into kicking balls around. I guess I am being neurotic as youngest has MUCH better social skills than oldest at same age but I guess also still feeling guilty about not picking up on the oldest's unhappiness for a long time. Sorry that sounds hopelessly muddled.

waitingforbedtime - So can I that is why I have agreed that he will come in for mornings from Friday, but I wasnt willing to go back on my promise to him that we would go at lunchtime tomorrow and not first thing in the morning. It seemed a bit rich to demand that we fit in with them when they had completely failed to plan for induction at all.

Anyway thank you all for taking time to comment - am feeling more relaxed(ish) as I think he WILL be all right in the end once he gets used to it.

halia Thu 10-Sep-09 13:53:13

We started 'big school' (reception class) on monday. He was OK about it before hand and on his first morning was excited to put on his new uniform and walk up with me and daddy. On the first day he was a bit quiet and clingy - and then a couple of other kids started crying so it all got a bit traumatic but we managed.
Since then however it has got worse and worse each day, he runs and hides when he sees his school jumper in the morning.

He is OK on the walk - once I get him past the whinge of 'tired mummy', and today he actually left my side to run madly around with his friends younger brother (friend was clinging onto his mummy).
But then when the bell went, his face crumpled and he grabbed hold of me, I have to drag him down to the place they line up and he refuses to let go off me.

The arrangement is that all the classes line up outside in the lower playground. Parents aren't suppoused to go down there but none of the reception kids will walk down there on their own yet. Then they have to wait a bit and walk in, the problem is because they don't just go striahgt inside I can't just leave him - he runs after me and with 15 other kids the teachers can't stop/grab every one. By the time he gets to go in he is really worked up and clinging onto me. Yesterday I had to carry him in, prise his hands off me and transfer him to the teacher who had to hold his hand tightly to stop him running out the door.

What can I do? He says he doesn't like it and all I've heard from him have been bad things. Its horribly traumatic and right now I just want my little boy back at home again or back in preschool.

ageingmum Thu 10-Sep-09 14:22:01

Awful for you, and for him. What are the "bad things" he has talked about?
The lining up arrangement does sound very unhelpful for nervous reception children. Can you go in a bit later so that he doesn't get the chance to get quite so wound up?
Is it just him that is still getting so upset or are there others too? At least it sounds as if he is in a smallish class which should help.
What is he like when he comes out at the end of the day?
Really feel for you. Even when you know the chances are that he will settle and be fine in the end, it is horrible to see them in distress - and there is always the lurking fear that it will just get worse and worse and worse...

Highlander Thu 10-Sep-09 16:04:55

school is a huge step-up from nursery. DS1 (5) was keen, but very unsure when I dropped him off on Monday - the main reason is that school is a new environment where the kids don't understand what the routine and boundaries are.

For example: Nursery

parents go in, hang up child's coat, hang around etc etc
children have food brought to them
chidlren are reminded to drink
children are probably remoinded to toilet

In other words, they are actually babied a fair bit.

Then they go to school...........

The child walks in, the parents are discouraged from helping the child. Child does not know the routine, but is suddenly expected to grow up and sort themselves out - hanging up coat, putting the water bottle in the tray etc.

Suddenly, they are expected to be more personally responsible, and that's a lot to ask of a 4 year old.

Our school is excellent, with a very slow induction process, and parents are encouraged to stay for as long as they feel comfortable. BUT, my big gripe is that we could have been forewarned of the new school routine. I walked into DS1's class and I had no idea what to do - and poor DS1 probably thought he was being dropped onto Mars!!

Fortunately his teacher had them straight on the mat and outlined the routine and her Golden School Rules. Thus DS1 was super confident on day 2, because he knew what was going to happen, and he's never looked back.

I'm horrified that new reception kids are expected to be dumped in the playground - what kind of school encourages that? I'd be rebelling!

gladders Thu 10-Sep-09 17:05:11

ageingmum - wasn't meaning to be harsh/do any name-calling but your fist post didn't read very well... hope they bring the lego out soon?

am sorry your little ones are all having issues - some of the school settling procedures seem a bit basic??

halia - can he stand in line with a friend? hold someone's hand? can you promise him a reward if he does it beautifully? or maybe even bribe him with a chocolate button that can be your little secret as he goes to get inline? am also wondering if it would help if you didn't stand too close by? whenerv i've left mine they've been upset as long as they an see me but the tears have dried up once i've gone?

halia Thu 10-Sep-09 18:32:12

I've tried the holding hands with a friend thing and bribery! I agree with highlander - its such a huge step up that they are expected to take suddenly.

Everywhere he has been before I went in with him, tbh I'm a bit dissapointed that they havn't had a slower induction. There is no 'settling' process as far as I can tell. Personally I would have loved to be able to go a bit later on the first day so that reception kids could go in without all the big kids piling in as well, and to let parents go in on the first day to help kids adjust. Also because I DON'T know his routine at school, or even what his room looks like really (they changed rooms this summer) I don't know how to help him best at home.

saaa Thu 10-Sep-09 19:55:38

I've just read the link to the article in the times and it has annoyed me somewhat because that is just an opinion. All of the above opinions are in my view valid in each individual case. We know are children. To say labelling a child as sensitive will blight his future I feel is wrong. Some children are more sensitive and will remain so all their life, and trying to force them into situations that they are not ready for can only be damaging if not handeld well.

roundabout1 Fri 11-Sep-09 17:56:51

Can I join this thread please? I'm sorry to hear so many little ones are finding it tough but also pleased that it's not just my dd iykwim! My dd (4 3 weeks ago) did so well on her 1st day in reception, no tears & was so happy when I picked her up at lunchtime. That was wed & these last 2 mornings havn't been so good. Am dreading next week when she starts full time. She's scared of the handdriers in the toilets so won't ask to go, so far no accidents but obviously will be a problems next week. At snack time they have fruit or a veg option, first day fine as had banana's. Last 2 mornings they had tomatoes or pears, my daughter refuses to eat either. We've had tears before leaving home but has gone in happily but has been very upset at snack time. She's waking in the night worrying about staying for dinner, did 1 full day a wk at nursery no problem but obvioulsy different setting, no big school hall to worry about. I've tried reassuring her, have read through the menu's & showed her that there are loads of choices she will like evry day, we've played at dinnerladies at home, getting her used to making the choices, struggling to think what else I can do to help & getting very worried myself.

ommmward Fri 11-Sep-09 18:54:03

halia, you know he doesn't have to go if he's hating it, yes?

Me, I'd whip him out, home ed, and think again after he turns 5. But I'm a rabid home edder. Just wanted to make sure you know it's totally legal to do it - come and find the home ed topic if you want advice

Acinonyx Fri 11-Sep-09 19:25:59

roundabout - my dd can't eat the snacks (always apples or tomatoes) but children can take alternatice fruit snacks. I'm sending her with a banana or pear.

She's also terrified of handdriers - surprised they have these for infants as this fear is so common.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: