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Unhappy DC - when to chat to school?

(15 Posts)
zafferana Thu 09-Jan-20 09:18:27

DS1 started secondary in Sept. He moved from his old, non-academic prep, where he was happy but bored, to a highly selective secondary. Pretty much since day one he hasn't enjoyed it. He seems to be popular and is doing fine academically, but he's just not very happy. He never wants to go to school. He mopes around each morning looking miserable and then gets out of the car like he's going to the gallows. I think the main problem is that his old school has a senior school attached and all his friends went there. It's only him and one other boy from his old school who moved to the new school. We also spent new year away for a week with two of his best mates from the old school and their families and this, while great for him, hasn't helped him to settle back into the new school this term.

So my question is do we speak to the school and see if there is anything they can do? DS1's attitude to the new school isn't that favourable and I'm not sure I want them to know that, but I do want to help him to settle and be happier and I'm sure they've dealt with this before.

zafferana Thu 09-Jan-20 09:20:24

I should also say that moving him back to the old school would be the absolute last resort. It's not a great school and I don't think it's 'right' for him, I think this is mostly just about his friends and I think in time he'll make new ones, so I'd much rather wait it out. New school is a great school and I feel he will reach his potential there, not sure he would at old school.

LIZS Thu 09-Jan-20 11:21:39

Does he still see friends from old school? Could be an adjustment period between presumably being one of top performers at old school and finding himself amongst many similar at new, which will resolve itself in time.

FredFlinstoneMadeOfBones Thu 09-Jan-20 11:57:17

Is there something you think the new school could do to help him settle? I think it's still early days and imagine he'll settle fairly soon. It's normal for kids to still be more attached to primary friends at this stage by the end of the year things have shifted more.

zafferana Thu 09-Jan-20 12:02:29

Yes, he does LIZS, but not that often as they're all quite busy with football/rugby/homework at the weekends. I'm hoping that it's just the adjustment period and with time it will resolve.

I don't know FredFlinstoneMadeOfBones and I worry that if I do say something and they send him to the school counsellor or something he'll be furious with me for interfering.

PopGoesTheWeaz Thu 09-Jan-20 12:30:39

Is he doing anything extra curricular at the new school? IF not, that would be a first step into getting him to feel more part of the school and that is something that the school should want to help with. All of the independent schools I've visited talked about "sense of community" so if they have a similiar ethos, that should be something they want to help with.

AlpineSnow Thu 09-Jan-20 12:39:08

Does the new school have lots of children who knew each other before from a previous school/s as it might be harder to break into established friendships

zafferana Thu 09-Jan-20 13:01:58

He does sports @PopGoesTheWeaz. I've encouraged him to join in with some other things, but so far he doesn't want to. And yes, the school is big on community, participation and trying out new things. I wish he'd get stuck in a bit more, but me saying that has had zero effect - that's one way in which the school could perhaps help actually - by helping to identify things he might enjoy.

No @AlpineSnow, not really. There are a few from one school, but mostly the other DC didn't know anyone in Sept.

Malbecfan Thu 09-Jan-20 17:40:53

As a y7 tutor, I would want to know this, so I suggest you email his form tutor or Head of Year to let them know. My school takes in children from all over the place - this year was very different as some from the same primaries were put together but lots in my class were the only ones who came from their old school. One term in and the friendship groups have developed.

I deliberately mixed them up in my first seating plan so they had to talk to children they didn't know and I think that has helped. Maybe that's something you could suggest.

PopGoesTheWeaz Thu 09-Jan-20 19:40:03

Sorry, what I was trying to say is that if you approached with the school as a "I don't think he's feeling part of the community" then you will perhaps get practical solutions around them suggesting clubs to him or mixing seating plans, etc, rather than suggesting he see a councillor which is what they may do if you approach it as "DS is generally unhappy", iyswim

ConfidingFish Fri 10-Jan-20 07:13:48

I would inform the HOY over this, maybe they can encourage him into some clubs which would help with friendships.

Both my sons went to a secondary without any friends from their primary (they all went into a feeder secondary) so I deliberately did not encourage any meet ups with old friends but the meet ups happened a few times. My sons understood the importance of friendships and so they mainly concentrated on making new friends at the new school.

I think New Year will have possibly reinforced feeling disconnected as the friends would have had things in common to talk about like teachers etc.

In year 7 at my sons' school you had to join at least one club, it could be a lunch time thing or an after school one. But at least one. Any lunchtime clubs had a queue buster card that meant you could go to the front of the line for food grin

Your son needs to know that his feelings are not going to change unless he invests in making it a more positive experience for himself. When he comes home perhaps get him to focus on 3 good things that have happened in school.

LolaSmiles Fri 10-Jan-20 22:49:21

As a form tutor I would want to know if anyone in my form was feeling like this and would welcome a parent calling me to have a chat
Pop makes a great suggestion in termsnof how to phrase the concern. I'd also suggest framing the situation as "DC is struggling with the transition to secondary, especially as most of his friends from prep went to the same school".

MollyButton Fri 10-Jan-20 22:56:38

I'd request a talk with his form Tutor, house master or head of year. You can tell them that you don't think he'd react well to being carted off to the school counsellor, but you want advice and them to see if they can keep an eye on him. Some pressure to join something (a team or activity) could help.
But it shouldn't be anything they haven't seen a lot before, and they may have some really constructive suggestions.

zafferana Wed 15-Jan-20 07:41:43

Thanks for all your suggestions. Things seemed to be better for a few days, but now I realise that they weren't. I'm going to email his form tutor this morning, but I still don't really know what to say. He's just miserable. He says he doesn't enjoy any of the lessons, he feels a sense of dread before each and every one. He says maths (formerly his best subject and he's been put in the top set), is too hard and he just doesn't understand it any more. He doesn't even the games this term as instead of PE and rugby (which he loves), they're doing swimming and hockey (which he hates).

I feel so out of my depth. I loved school (generally speaking) and don't understand this gloominess and malaise he appears to feel. He's going through puberty (early developer), so I suspect that that's part of it, add in new school and higher expectations and he's just unhappy, despite actually being quite popular among his peers, or so it would seem.

AlpineSnow Thu 16-Jan-20 12:20:25

He sounds depressed, possibly sparked off by leaving the familiar school. I've got girls in Year 8 and 11 but i wouldn't say low mood like that is necessarily normal for teenagers. Maybe a trip to the GP would be a good idea.
I'd tell the FT what you've said and perhaps a move to a different maths group would be a good idea.

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