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Son started at a Prep in Year 7 and has no friends

(28 Posts)
haverhill Tue 25-Sep-18 10:25:04

I've been beating myself up horribly about sending my son to a prep school after a state primary (in which he was very happy and had friends). So he's joined the Prep in Year 7 and of course, nearly all the children have known each other for several years (many since Reception) and are in established groups. DS is lovely, intelligent, kind boy but not sporty at all (he has minor problems with his feet and legs) and is finding it very hard to make friends. He's resorted to spending all his free time alone in the Library, which breaks my heart.

The massive complication (for me anyway!) is that I teach at the school (that's why he's here; I get a big discount) and so I am seeing him going through this difficult and lonely time first hand.

Has anyone been through something similar? A big part of me is thinking we should withdraw him and send him to the local comp (Ofsted: Good) where most of his friends went before they all form firm new friendships groups. Am I just panicking? It's only been four weeks but I'm not sure how long my nerves can take the battering! I had a very lonely Year 6 at school and can remember the pain of being left out very vividly.
Thanks for reading and any advice.

OP’s posts: |
Theworldisfullofgs Tue 25-Sep-18 10:54:14

I'm not sure what to say. My son had a bumby start into year 7 after going to the same school as his sister but not his friends. He was in a school where lots of people come from different schools but often in groups.
He really wasn't well in yr7 and that complicated things (an existing condition flared up).
He's is year 8 now and flourishing and the friendship groups have evened out.
I think only you know your son and know what's right for him
As you teach in the school have you seen this with other children in the past? How did they do, give time?

makingtime Tue 25-Sep-18 11:10:48

What's the plan for him after Y8? Will he stay in the private system and go to an independent senior? I guess what you're doing next will inform whether he stays or you take him out to go to the comp with his friends.

Soursprout Tue 25-Sep-18 11:10:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

haverhill Tue 25-Sep-18 11:11:49

Thanks for replying, Theworld.
Most kids do seem to find a pal eventually, I guess. The non-sporty thing is an issue though; most new boys here seem to integrate through playing football and the like. I actually didn't realise how little physical confidence DS has.
I'm just scared that if we keep him here and he doesn't find a like-minded friend or two, he will have a miserable 2 years, his self-esteem will be damaged, and then he'll have to go off to another school with less confidence than he had in Year 6. Aargh!

OP’s posts: |
haverhill Tue 25-Sep-18 11:15:22

And making and Sour!

If we get a bursary place somewhere he can stay in the independent sector, if not it'll be back to state. We're doing the bursary applications now.

I just feel bad that I was seduced by the 'glamour' of this school (it's damn good) and didn't pay enough attention to the bigger picture.

OP’s posts: |
Blessthekids Tue 25-Sep-18 11:24:07

4 weeks is quite a long time and unless he can join lots of clubs then unfortunately it may not get any better. My dd1 experienced bouts of not really having any close friends, and it was hard. Benefits are that she focused on her own interests and is very resilient but her self esteem did take a knocking. She is in a good place now but I will never forget it as it really broke my heart. And I am always a bit anxious about my dds' friendships, looking for signs etc its very tiring.

Speak to some of the staff that teach him and see if he can be moved around in the classroom so he sits next to boys that are the best candidates for friendship. If this does not bear any fruit, I would move him.

haverhill Tue 25-Sep-18 11:39:31

Thanks, Bless.
DH will be massively effed off if we move him because he expressed doubts about DS coming here from the start but I was so sure it was the right thing to do. sad.

OP’s posts: |
sugarbum Tue 25-Sep-18 11:39:40

I get you. We have sent DS1 to a secondary that is much further away, because we felt it would be more suited to him. He is not happy about it. Not at all. Its not private but it very much has the feel of a private school (I went to one) However we are sticking it out for now because I think a lot of his angst isn't specifically school related, its the whole shebang (workload, school size, travelling etc) which he would have at any secondary. I think making friends can take time. He has been very sheltered at primary (one class per year, right next to where we live) and its a huge change. He hasn't made friends yet, but I'm hoping so much that it happens soon.

SerenDippyEggs Tue 25-Sep-18 11:43:16

It's a difficult one.. but I have to say I'd probably send him to where his friends are if it's what he'd like. I hope things pick up for him soon, bless him.

Trampire Tue 25-Sep-18 11:50:21

I hear you.

My ds in Y7 (state school). His sister is at the same school, but all his friends went to the feeder comp. This school is better for my dcs as it does lots of drama, music and Art and has a more nurturing feel.

Anyway, my ds hasn't made any firm friends yet either. He is talking to people but nothing solid. dd was exactly the same. It took her until Christmas nearly to firm a small group of friends. She's now in Y9 and the friendships groups are still slightly fluid. Often things like a School trip away brings new friends into the mix.

So I'm not worried yet. Our schools has a huge amount of clubs. My ds is trying rugby this week as he has made a connection with another who plays. However, Rugby club clashes with Drama club that is much more his thing! Argh. He's put his name down to audition for the whole school production too which is a bid deal.
I'm just trusting that he'll work it out.

However, there are 1,200 pupils at my ds's school so a big soul of people to find someone to click with. Is the private school very small?

I guess it can be harder for your DS when not all Y7's are new at the school. I would also ask around your colleagues and say your worried. Pastoral should be hot on this surely?

No shame in moving him though. There's always lots of movement in Y7.

QuaterMiss Tue 25-Sep-18 11:50:23

I, on the other hand, don’t think he’s been there long enough for you to panic.

(Side issue probably but I’m wondering if he’s finding that having a parent around is slightly cramping his style? Do you think this might be having an effect?)

It’s true that prep school life is easiest if you make a couple of friends quickly - otherwise, I’m reliably informed, you find yourself being left out of things because little boys just lack sufficient empathy to make an effort. But he has only just begun to work through all the possibilities of the new school. If he can’t bond through sport - there are almost certainly other activities going on where he’d find he has things in common with others. Chess club? Gardening? Drama? War games? These things are probably going on while he’s sitting in the library. Can you encourage him to explore a little?

haverhill Tue 25-Sep-18 12:16:20

Massive thanks for all your replies; I can't tell you what a relief it is to put this into words rather than have it churning around my head making me feel like The Worst Mother in the World.

The school is about 600 kids. There are a few teachers' kids here (discount!) so it's fairly normalised. I'm not especially embarrassing, I don't think..hmm

My feelings at the moment are: wait until the end of this term and review the situation with DS. Encourage clubs and activities and keep encouraging him to talk to us about his difficulties and sad feelings. I may also speak to his tutor about ways to open up friendship channels (I've been a tutor for donkey's years and know how bloody hard friendship issues are to solve; they're one thing you can't just 'sort out' for a kid).

Any further advice/tips/experiences very gratefully received.

OP’s posts: |
QuaterMiss Tue 25-Sep-18 12:24:02

Very, very gently ... (Truly!)

Butt out. No one says you’re embarrassing. But he needs to make his own way. You don’t want rumours flying around that the new boy’s mum is engineering his social life?

And. I’m sorry, but, less dwelling on “talking about his sad feelings”! I get that you’ve been a tutor - but honestly, you need to keep a respectful parental distance ... He’s in yr 7. That’s senior school in state school terms. Take a few steps back and ask him briskly which new clubs he’s investigated today.

haverhill Tue 25-Sep-18 12:43:21

I get what you're saying, QuaterMiss. My discussions with DS about school have been relentlessly cheery, though. He has no idea of my doubts and angst. It's all been in my head driving me crackers. He brought up feeling lonely for the first time this morning in the car, which is why I posted.

OP’s posts: |
Pythonesque Tue 25-Sep-18 13:46:58

Reading this has taken me back a little to my own yr 7 experience (at a school that was about 50/50 new girls and those coming up from primary). I think at some point there were steps taken to pair me with a couple of like minded girls in some classes, when they recognised that random groupings for some activities had worked out badly.

I'd say having a chat with his tutor is appropriate, but then leave it to him and your son to see where solutions come from. Hope things settle by Christmas!

And very best wishes for the senior school bursary hunt. Do bear in mind that older/boarding schools may have deeper pockets, though some have already done their main admissions rounds. (I've now got two boarders, just had them home over the weekend and still agog at how much sport my decidedly non-sporty son seems to be trying out! Along with everything else ...)

User19992018 Tue 25-Sep-18 14:06:10

Yes definitely try out new clubs and evening activities and get him as busy as possible integrated into supported groupings and see how it goes.

Any child in a new school will take time to find their feet. Especially where friendships have already been established for years and years.

It's the same with adults - we tend to talk to the people we know and it takes time to get to know newcomers in whatever kind of group we are in.

Your suggestion to wait until the end of term and see how things are then sounds good. It would be great if there's someone he could walk home with, or someone who's on his journey - so that he'd start to chat on a one to one basis with someone else. or even someone who lives close by.

That's how I joined a friendship group when I was 16 - a girl lived in the road next to me and walked home together.

All he needs is one tiny road into something and then he'll be accepted slowly more and more.

Give it a bit more time. I'm sure he'll get there somehow.

Orchiddingme Tue 25-Sep-18 14:10:14

It will take a lot longer if there are already established friendship groups and he's a newcomer. I'm sure he will get there, but a month is unrealistic. It does take time.

haverhill Tue 25-Sep-18 15:29:19

All brilliant advice, thank you so much. This has been like a therapy session! I didn't realise quite how guilty and conflicted I was feeling. xx

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ifonly4 Tue 25-Sep-18 15:48:00

I know we're talking about a different age group, but my DD got a scholarship for Sixth form and we were in exactly the same situation last year. I think it was partly her questioning if she'd made the right decision, also going from home to full time boarding and lack of friends. It was so bad, she did a taster day at her old school.

She decided to stay and we told her to just keep walking by the others, sit out in the open where others might see her if passing, sit with them or near them at lunch and have a go at clubs where in time she might get to know others. Fast other a year, she's made lots of friend and is really settled.

Working at the school, I'm sure you know who to contact and discuss yours and his concerns. They might be able to set something up where he gets involved with others, ie helping out.

Hoppinggreen Tue 25-Sep-18 15:51:32

My dd had the same issue, a lot of her class had been at The prep together and there were only 6 other girls in her class ( 5 of whom were at Prep). She struggled quite a lot but did make one good friend, sadly she then had to leave for financial reasons and Dd had to startbagain. By the end of year 7 a lot of the kids had started to get fed up of each other and friendships changed a lot and by year 8 dd had a great friendship group *( and still has in year 9). It’s going to be hard to break in when some kids have known each other since they were 3 years old and we are considering moving DS there in y5 rather than waiting until year 6 as DD says she thinks that would have been better in her case.

BubblesBuddy Tue 25-Sep-18 17:12:53

I think if your plans for senior school depend on a bursary, what happens if you don’t get one or it’s smaller than you need? This would really concern me. Can you easily get back into the state sector? If you decide to go back to state now, start saving for 6th form. Some schools don’t have huge bursaries and I note some don’t expect a family to have an income of more than £35,000 (my family looked for DN) so I would start looking at what might or might not be available.

I would always try and start prep in y5 at the absolute latest. You need to evaluate options to decide on 11 or 13 transfer to senior school.

QuaterMiss Tue 25-Sep-18 17:17:59

Bubbles it doesn’t sound as if the OP’s son will be sent down the pit to mine coal if they don’t get a bursary ... grin

jazzandh Wed 26-Sep-18 10:56:43

There will be a few boys that don't like sport! They are there...even in preps! He needs to bond with them! (Off-games is a good hang out for them).

My eldest DS has just started Y9 in a new school and there were only three new boys.....he rapidly found his "tribe" ....being the ones that walked really slowly to rugby sessions (and then pretended they'd never played before!)

It's still early days

TJsAunt Wed 26-Sep-18 11:46:19

it is still early days. if you thought it would suit him then it might well do given time?

As everyone has said, encourage him to join in. His tutor must be a colleague so i'd have a quiet word there too?

with any luck he'll make a good group of friends, some of whom will then go onto his next school with him. Hang in there!

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