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Three Weeks In & Thoroughly Miserable

(22 Posts)
SarahC3 Wed 26-Sep-12 22:07:41

First time on mumsnet since my big ones (12 & 10) were babies-eek. DD 3 weeks into new secondary school and having a really miserable time. Coming from a small primary it's a big change and only one familiar face in her year. I've encouraged her tO join clubs, which she has and is on two teams but still no progress. Feeling I'll everyday, crying every night. Says nobody will/wants to talk to her/takes any interest in her etc do feeling very alone. Have spoken to pastoral care & firm tutor-bottom line from them is it happens, get on with it, encourage her (we are and have been every day) abd it will take time.
V early days I know but three exceptionally long agonising weeks and so v out of character. Very very worried and wondering at what point I take more action (ie look at another school which is an option) or do I just sit tight? Any advice so v welcome.

SarahC3 Wed 26-Sep-12 22:08:52

Sorry about predictive errors-should have previewed!

DukesOfTripHazard Thu 27-Sep-12 10:23:05

What a horrible situation for you all. Hope school were kind. Sure someone will be along with a good news story, it must happen a lot but lawks I bet it hurts.

Really hope there will be some changes soon.

RillaBlythe Thu 27-Sep-12 10:27:13

My eldest just started Reception so I dunno, but I remember starting secondary school myself. I hated it. I didn't know anyone else, I spent break times in the library reading because I had nobody to hang around with. My parents said I had to give it till Christmas then we could reconsider. By Christmas I had friends & it was all fine. Hope your DD settles soon too.

Ragwort Thu 27-Sep-12 10:31:56

So sorry; my DS is finding it hard and it is also out of character, he is usually so confident and outgoing; he's changed primary schools twice so its not as if he is not used to 'change'. It is horrible seeing them so upset but I think you have to grit your teeth and give them a bit longer to settle as moving to another school could be equally (or more) traumatic. I think its getting a little better for him now. He says the same about no one talking to him and feeling he doesn't fit in (although I picked him up the other day and he didn't see me, I was watching him walk down the road with a large gang of other children, he was laughing and chatting and looked 'in the thick of it' grin).

takeonboard Thu 27-Sep-12 10:34:53

So sad for your DD it is very hard to break into existing friendship groups.sad

Is there anyone who has been friendly to her who she could invite round at the weekend or anyone she travels to school with?

I would keep encouraging her to join clubs etc and keep in touch with the school don't be brushed off they can do lots to help. It is a bit early to be thinking of new schools though I would give it at least a term. Lots of kids cling to their old primary school friends in the beginning and its not until they feel settled themselves that they start to branch out make new friends.

AutumnWitch Thu 27-Sep-12 10:42:12

I really do feel for you DD, the transition to secondary can be really tough. Do give her plenty of time before going for drastic options like a move. To move during term can make things worse, as friendship groups would have been established, she won't be familiar with the school and routines and will have her leaning interrupted as different schools teach the curriculum in different sequences.

You've done the right thing in making the pastoral staff aware, perhaps your DD could have an appointment with one, or arrange a chat with her form tutor? Some schools have buddy or mentor systems - could she be paired up with an older student to look after her? Ask her to look for positives in the day, we all remember the negatives, hold onto friendly words from other students, praise from teachers. Maybe take on a more positive role, ask her to look for other students who are looking lonely and talk to them, making someone else feel better makes us feel good.

If no-one knows her, then it's a chance to start afresh, no-one remembers what you were like at primary school, so you can be just who you want to be.
Some of the really confident sounding children may also be struggling, but are hiding it from everyone, they may want to shift away from old friends that they have drifted away from and be looking for new ones.

It can take time to settle in, but as other posters have said, things are usually settled by christmas

I hope you things look up soon

And yes, I am a teacher smile

Sparklingbrook Thu 27-Sep-12 10:49:09

We had this with DS1 last year. It didn't get any better, and I kept promising it would. I told him he would feel better by Christmas. He didn't. Then Easter-but still no change. sad

He was very stressed and his hair started falling out, he cried every morning.

In May this year I looked round another school, he started in June. He is a different child.

I know my story is a bit extreme, I think most do settle by Christmas TBH. But there is always another option.

janinlondon Thu 27-Sep-12 10:58:39

Maybe time to get a bit proactive. Do the teams she is on play after school or on weekends? Can you be the great mum who turns up and gives lifts home to kids who live nearby? Do you know any of the other parents? Is there a social group for parents you could join, and then target the mums of other girls in the same year group? Do you have an address list for the year? Are there any living very nearby? Also, pump her a bit about the various social groups that are forming - is there a "mad about boys and wearing lots of mascara" group (to avoid at all costs!!! smile). Are there some kids who are disappearing into the library at lunch time - possibly feeling much the same as she does? Maybe review how she gets to and from school, and find a more sociable route? I think they all feel a bit out of water at first in a new school, but I would bet my life that there's at least one other child feeling the same in her year. Hope you can find a solution. You sound lovely.

harvestvestibule Thu 27-Sep-12 11:16:32

It is very very early days as you say.People tend to cling onto their primary friends for dear life when they start secondary and if your dd doesn't know anyone then of course she is going to feel very left out.But as time goes by the primary school experiences fade into the background and the secondary ones take oveer giving them much more common ground .
If she is joining clubs every lunchtime then that kind of gets rid of the biggest chunk of unstructured time.I have had 3 children now in this situation and the best advice is to put herself out there .Talk to people. Talk to the person she is sitting next to or partnered with for PE or science to try and find common interests , common ground.Also do take what she says with a pinch of salt.She will remember all the bad stuff about the day more than the good stuff.

tiggytape Thu 27-Sep-12 11:30:57

I feel for you and your DD too. My DS has just started secondary at a school where he knows nobody in his year group at all. I was so worried about this as but the best thing the school has done (as far as he's concerned - others have been very upset about it) is really break up friendship groups from primary so that everyone is on a more equal footing.
I think the actual reason they do it is to maintain good discipline in class but the knock on effect is that a lot of people aren't with anyone they know all day and are forced to reach out and make an effort with new people in a way that children don't (at first) at other schools if they are with lots of kids they already know from primary.

This will settle down and by Christmas the old friendship groups won't be so exclusive anymore I am sure. In the meatime, the school cannot force friendships but there are practical things they can do eg buddy systems or just mixing up the seating plans once in a while so everyone has a chance to meet everyone else properly. Did they mention any strategies they have to deal with this? It seems very bad just to shrug it off and say they won't try anything to help. I would definitely speak to them again as it is a concern that they don't seem willing to help with this.

Lancelottie Thu 27-Sep-12 12:40:47

Sparkling, I remember your worry over DS and his school (as we've been in the same situation). Glad to hear he's so much better suited to the new one.

Sparklingbrook Thu 27-Sep-12 12:43:48

Thanks Lance. It is such a relief.

Blu Thu 27-Sep-12 12:53:47

Really feel for you, Sarah, heartbreaking, watching your child be so miserable. I think JanInLondon is right about looking for pro-active routes. Is there anyone else she thinks doesn't know anyone or seems v shy and doesn't talk to people? If so, tell her to talk to that person and ask if they want to sit together at lunch. Are all the clubs activities or is there a games / dvd club at lunch? Again she could ask a shy person if they want to go to the library or the DC+VD club at lunch time.

Do you know the mother of the 'familiar face' child? Could you arrange a meet up or a walk to school with that child, via the mother?

The truth is that people who are outgoing and prepared to talk to others are those that make friends. Tell her to look out for opoprtunities to help people. DS knew no-one in his tutor group, but is now friends with someone who handed him a spare reading book when he had forgotten to bring one - and thus saved him a bad mark of some kind.

I wouldn't be looking at a differnt school unless you are unhappy with the school per se. She'll just have another transition to make, and after all the induction stuff, too. You presumably chose a school that the other children in her old primary were not going to because you liked things about this school? Or was this school one you were 'landed with' and neither she nor you have felt good about it?

tiggytape Thu 27-Sep-12 13:13:24

I agree with Blu about looking for opportunities to help others eg lending a pen or clarifying what the homework was. I also told DS that if he is stuck for a way of breaking the ice to ask the other child a question about themselves because normally people are happy to chat if you seem interested in them. I gave him some examples as an idea but mainly I think he just asked all the boys "do you like Minecraft?" until he struck lucky!

Because they've been at primary so long, many of them haven't had to make any special effort to make totally new friends for ages (maybe years and years). Practicing a little at home may seem a bit odd but gives them an idea of how you go about joining in with others and ideas what to say to people if you're stuck.

Blu Thu 27-Sep-12 13:38:53

LOL at 'do you like Minecraft?'.

tiggytape Thu 27-Sep-12 13:47:02

I know Blu! His new friendships all revolve around who has diamond boots and who's got the biggest lava pit! Still I shouldn't complain I guess.

janinlondon Fri 28-Sep-12 09:08:38

Sarah are you ok? Just checking....I told DD (12) about this thread last night, and this morning I saw her walk up to one of the new year 7 boys and start a conversation with him as she went into the station. Obviously took it all to heart. Made me think that if one of the other year 7 mums knew about your DDs situation she might be able to steer things a little, as happened here this morning? Just a thought. I hope some of the ideas on this thread can help.

qo Fri 28-Sep-12 09:14:37

My dd also 3 weeks into secondary school, and while she seems ok - quite happily chatting about lessons etc, she has been really tearful since she started bursting into tears often for no reason. She even says she doesn't know what's wrong with her.

I've put it down to much earlier mornings than she's used to creating tiredness and also maybe a little touch of hormones, she's got boobs and is starting to get a more womanly shape, I'm sure onset of periods isn't far off.

I used to get too over-involved in my older kids school life, which really didn't help so I'm trying to hold back a bit and not get too over-anxious.

3 weeks isn't really that long for them to have adjusted, maybe give her til half term if thing s are no better for her then step it up a notch?

I really hope she settles soon, there is nothing worse than seeing your child unhappy and feeling powerless to help

MaddestMother Fri 28-Sep-12 10:33:24

We're in a very similar situation to you Sarah see my thread about DD's situation (how do geeks fit in mixed ability classes).

It's horrible seeing your child in this situation, I've been trying to look for all the positives in each day so that she doesn't feel that it's all bad and there are good things. She's joined the choir and has music groups to go to and some of the teachers seem really pleased with her work so far.
She hasn't made any real friends yet and was getting a bit of low grade bullying in some classes but I spoke to the school and that seems better with a change of seating plan. The head of pastoral care explained that lots of children are feeling like her and to look out for children she think are her type of person and try and start talking to them. She's been doing this and has a couple of people she likes working with now so I think thats progress smile.

Hope your situation improves soon, our plan is to see how things are at Xmas and if she's unhappy then, she'll move. Also if things deteriorate between now and then I will move her sooner!

CouthyMowWearingOrange Fri 28-Sep-12 10:46:18

I can see my DS having issues if he doesn't 't get into the Grammar. His year group at primary is unusually only 32. The second choice school will have 270 pupils, and he will likely be the only boy in his form from his school. Also, even in the classes that are set rather than taught in form groups the most he will have is two boys and a girl from his Primary.

I can see him hating it for a while tbh, until he gets to know other people with similar interests.

minesawine Fri 28-Sep-12 12:52:38

I have had a similiar start for my DS, he has gone from being a confident, lively boy in primary school, to very shy and introverted in Year 7. I spoke to the school about it and they have been brilliant. They regularly check on him, make sure he is taking part in activities and does not spend too much time alone. He has been given a (very pretty) 6th former as a mentor, which he says makes his friend jealous! She is nice to him and talks through and I think helps him with his shyness.

He is not quite there yet and was too shy to ask to join the five-a-side teams to take part in a school tournament, so I contacted his PE teacher who was great and discreatly found him a team to join.

It is such a fine balance between letting them get on with it or facilitating and being a little bit pushy. I should probably butt out, but it is so heartbreaking seeing this special child regress and be so upset about going to school.

I have asked him to join some lunchtime clubs and he said he will on Monday, fingers crossed.

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