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How much is expected of year 7s when they start secondary school? DS is so stressed.

(45 Posts)
iwouldgoouttonight Tue 03-Oct-17 13:17:31

DS has been at secondary for about a month and I'm starting to worry about him. He is struggling to cope with the various different demands on him and getting used to the new environment and ways of working. He's been tearful most evenings the last couple of weeks with worrying about it all.

He loved it for the first week or so but he's been put into 'top set' and I'm not sure whether that is putting more pressure on him. He has 15 different teachers, each of which set homework which is due in at different times. He has a planner and we've been encouraging him to try to do homework as soon as he gets it so he doesn't get behind. But he still feels overwhelmed with it and worries that he's going to be told off or get detention for not doing it well enough. He says the teachers are really strict (I'm guessing they may just seem that way compared to primary). He's always been a bit scatterbrained but I think the stress is making him worse so he keeps forgetting things. He's lost one of his books and now he's lost his PE kit. I've talked him through it and said I can't re-buy a whole PE kit so he needs to go to lost property and if it's not there to retrace his steps to see where it might be. He just burst into tears and said he'll never find it and he'll probably get a detention.

Last week he got a migraine, which he's had a couple of times before when he's been worrying about things, and that made him vomit at school so he had to come home. The medical woman asked if he was ok emotionally as he seemed very upset about it. He also has a medical issue which means he sometimes wets himself. The school are aware of this and he has a toilet pass and various other things in place, but he's not using his toilet pass as he doesn't want to draw attention to himself in class or get told off (which I've told him he won't but he says I don't know what his teachers are like).

He only turned 11 a week before he started secondary so he feels young compared to the other children. But I'm not sure whether I'm making excuses for him and he should be able to deal with it all and he needs to just organise himself. Or should I speak to his teacher to say he's struggling a bit and might need some support? Is this normal for the start of secondary?

2014newme Tue 03-Oct-17 13:21:29

I would speak to school but be specific what support you want him to have eg 'it would be helpful if xyz could be put in place'
Tbh I'd be telling him he's doing really well! Big him up a bit. A lost person kit isn't the end of the world and that's the only real issue (although expensive)

Eolian Tue 03-Oct-17 13:29:32

I'm a secondary teacher and also have a dd who started secondary last September. Some kids find the organisational and scheduling side of secondary school hard to adapt to. I remember finding it really hard and stressful even though I was pretty academic and old for my year. Dd on the other hand has taken to it really easily and she is the youngest in her year.

Just give him plenty of support and reassurance and try to discourage him from catastrophising about what might happen if he misses a deadline etc. Most teachers are pretty understanding at this early stage, particularly if it's clear the child is making an effort and behaving well otherwise.

The organisation will come in time. He just needs a while to learn to trust that he can handle it all!

averythinline Tue 03-Oct-17 13:41:57

I would definitely talk to the school - maybe his form tutor or head of year at ds school you phone and leave a msg and they call you back other schools you have the email...
the first half term for DS found really hard...slept through most of half term! he has dyspraxia so organisation skills poor at the best of times..
his school had a small group called something like curriculum enrichment (v odd name I thought) that was mainly a small group of kids (all boys I think) that they helped come up with strategies and back up plans etc to reduce some of their stress was run by the inclusion department - but not all of them necessarily had SEN just been picked up by form tutors/parents ..
maybe worth asking if they have any extra support for stressed kids and flag it now..

re pe kit i had a back up set in correct colours (not logo'd) eg blue trackies and white polo top that could be used in case of emergency (was used a lot)- the proper kit did usually eventually turn up but not necessarily quickly...I did speak to the welfare staff a couple of ties and they found stuff even though he had looked! they were helpful

I told DS I wasn't too bothered about detentions for forgetting stuff/being late etc as he was learning the ropes ...
things were better by xmas and much better by the spring - ds also a summer born so young in the year but did get less stressed about things

Acornantics Tue 03-Oct-17 13:53:04

I do sympathise; DS started in Sept and loves most of his lessons and teachers, but is terrified of one who he says is 'strict' and who he doesn't want to ask for help in case he gets told off.

He said a teacher physically moved him and sternly said 'No' when he moved to the side on the stairs to let her past...seems he stepped the wrong way. He does tend to wear his heart on his sleeve and feels 'injustice' very strongly, so we're trying to reassure and build his confidence as much as possible.

He goes from happy to the depths of despair over homework and losing his PE top, mostly when he's tired and emotional. Doesn't help that I've been in hospital being treated for pneumonia and am still recovering...think it's been quite a month for him!

They will settle in, DS1 took until about Xmas to be truly settled but it happened eventually.

Witchend Tue 03-Oct-17 14:01:03

I think just like reception it takes some children time to adjust. I remember the feeling of "I will never get used to this" in my first term at secondary-
My oldest has just gone to 6th form college and is definitely going through an adjustment there too.

Dixiechickonhols Tue 03-Oct-17 14:24:22

I'd speak to form tutor and give them a heads up. Maybe they can have a word generally in form time about asking if you need help, you won't get detention for first offence etc. They may also have nurture groups for an extra bit of help.

With DD I've got her a big box for her books in her room. Books come out of bag into box. At night we repack for next day. What lesson have you got first, what do you need, stand there whilst she gets books out of box and puts in her bag, what's next etc. If book not in box it must have given it into teacher because it can't be anywhere else.

I also got her an A4 expanding file and any homework goes in there if not stuck in book and this file goes in bag daily to avoid the I've done my maths homework but the sheet is at home scenario.

I get her to do some homework each night not just leave until weekend.

Mine has a physical disability and very much doesn't want to draw attention to herself. I've told her she must ask for help if she needs it, checked she knows where senco is.

iwouldgoouttonight Tue 03-Oct-17 15:49:02

Thanks all. He definitely does catastrophise. I have said that even if he did get a detention for something its not the end of the world but he's acting as though it would be.

He has just texted me to say he found his PE kit in lost property, but in the time between finding it and coming home he has managed to lose it again. I despair. sad

2014newme Tue 03-Oct-17 15:50:36

Hmm well if he was that worried about losing his kit he'd be hanging onto it better! He's learning a hard lesson.

Lily2007 Tue 03-Oct-17 15:57:24

I would have a word with the form tutor as it sounds like he could do with some support.

My DD started y7 at a school she knew no one and adapted fine but suspect DS won't. My daughter leaves her PE kit in her locker, would that help if he's not doing that already. One of the schools we went round gave a detention for no PE kit so it's feasible, seemed to be detentions for everything.

iwouldgoouttonight Tue 03-Oct-17 16:00:31

He does normally leave it in his locker but he'd had a wee accident and was going to bring it home to wash which is why he didn't put it back into his locker. But who knows what was going on in his head today. DP is at home with him and has just texted to say he's sat crying over his homework. sad I know they have to learn the hard way but it's horrible to watch

Fex Tue 03-Oct-17 16:21:04

Oh poor little DS.
I had one like this. The well behaved child who is desperate to toe the line and terrified of getting into trouble.
Also to those who have well organised DC it's easy to be dismissive, but it really does come harder to some DC than others.
I would ring and have a chat with his form tutor.

Orangeplastic Tue 03-Oct-17 16:35:00

And every single one of us has lost something at some stage - it's human.

user1495443009 Tue 03-Oct-17 16:50:48

Poor thing. It shouldn't be this hard. Give him all the support he needs and speak to school about it

Lily2007 Tue 03-Oct-17 17:13:13

If he's crying definitely have a word with the form tutor, might be worth trying the senco too. My DS is only in y6 so I don't know what they can offer at secondary, he will need support when he goes and has had a TA at primary and a tent to hide in smile, but DD can organise the whole family!

IfNot Tue 03-Oct-17 17:25:10

It seems that this is what secondary school is like now, or at least (ime) academies.
I find it disgraceful that children are in tears with stress, but they do seem to expect such a high degree of organisation.
I have a naturally disorganised kid too, and he also gets very stressed about it. They DO punish for losing/forgetting stuff. Also for wearing the wrong socks and getting lost on the way to classes..
I don't think the schools really grasp how terrifying it is to be singled out in a new school where everything is unfamiliar.
It's bordering on cruel at times.
I would speak your school. And be firm, explain you understand the need for all the children to be organised and you are supporting him to do this, but that this level of stress is unsustainable. Poor kid.

StiginaGrump Tue 03-Oct-17 17:27:35

They don't have to learn the hard way. Support him and get school to support him. Be extra kind and make sure staff support him quickly so you are all happier quickly.

Might he be dyspraxic at all - sounds very like minesmile

Bobbybobbins Tue 03-Oct-17 17:32:34

I was pretty disorganised and lost things at school. Luckily my school were a bit more laid back so I mainly got into trouble with my mum...

As a secondary school teacher, I would want to know if one of my form group was struggling to this extent. We have put things in place for year 7s who find the transition hard.

iwouldgoouttonight Tue 03-Oct-17 18:56:16

Thanks all. I've got an appointment to speak to his form teacher so will see what she says. I've met her once already and she seems reasonable.

Trb17 Tue 03-Oct-17 20:11:57

So sorry to hear he’s struggling @iwouldgoouttonight

DD just started too and she really struggled as well. Tears daily.

I spoke to her form tutor who was lovely and she emailed all of DD’s class teachers to notify them that DD was struggling and to consider this when dealing with her. To ensure that she didn’t get punished for getting lost or other small infractions due to her nerves.

At home I took over organising her bag and homework schedule. I kept her involved but took charge so as to relieve the pressure and worry from her.

It really helped and DD is now starting to organise herself a little. Bit by bit I will hand it back to her over the next few months so as to give her the time to adjust.

Definitely speak to his form tutor. It may be all you need to do to start to turn things around.

BackforGood Tue 03-Oct-17 23:20:09

You are right to go and speak to the school. they will be used to it. Lots of dc struggle with the organisation to begin with (often adding on other new stresses like travel arrangements and going home to an empty home rather than a CM or after school club).
It is difficult to watch anyone you love struggle, but it is commoner than you think.
I felt I ended up quite good friends with the TA that sorted all the lost property in my ds's school when he was in Yr7 - I don't want to upset you by telling you how much stuff it is possible to lose in one term, grin but let me just say I bought that TA a box of Chocolates that Christmas wink

ifonly4 Wed 04-Oct-17 08:22:58

My DD turned 11 just before starting school and even going into Sixth Form they've commented they can tell she's a younger one in her year. The first term is the worst, there's so much to think about, learn, remember and it's a tough lesson getting it right but it will ease.

Any decent school won't tell him off/give him detention for not doing something well as every pupil is at a different level. The worst they may do is point out they feel he could add more and ask him to try doing this.

Re: PE kit, as you say retrace his steps, it could well have been left in a class and teachers won't mind him checking with them at break times.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 04-Oct-17 09:12:38

I really hate this zero tolerance and "learn the hard way" principle. Some schools treat 11yos as if they have joined the army or something and the expectations in the first term are massive. I'm sure it helps get behaviour sorted quickly, but at what cost to the children who are desperately trying to comply but just haven't got there yet?

My 11yo has just started year 8 and is much more settled now, but she found a lot of year 7 really overwhelming. She started sounding like an over-worked executive, who is constantly juggling unmanageable deadlines and lives for the weekend. It was sad and worrying.

IfNot Wed 04-Oct-17 09:28:14

It is treated very much like joining the army. Especially in "good" schools in naice areas. It's like they want to break them down and rebuild them into little automotons.
Sometimes they just break them down.
The pressure on kids from year 6 on is insane. OK I didn't go to the best high school, but we didn't have the level of homework and harsh sanctions, pressure to never be off ill or obsessive uniform rules they all seem to have now. It makes me sad.

2014newme Wed 04-Oct-17 09:37:01

For goodness sake it's nothing like joining the army

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