I'm not 100% sure DS is happy at school

(10 Posts)
DrLizShaw Wed 04-Jun-14 08:59:40

I've considered home ed before; when DS was small, then he became bonkers toddler when DD came along and I changed my mind! grin

Then last year when we moved area at the end of the summer and I struggled to find a reception place for him I considered it again. However TBH by Sept we'd almost come to blows after weeks and weeks of being in a new place without knowing anyone (I don't drive- yet so it was hard to get out and about) and I was relieved when he started school. His behaviour improved dramatically, all fine.

But he just seems... I don't know how to put it. He's a nightmare when he gets in front school as he's either exhausted or he's been cooped up all day and all the mischief comes out. He already has that sort of 'oh no, school today' attitude I'd expect from a teenager but not from a child who's still in reception.

It sounds like he's fallen out with his friend who's a bit of an alpha male (lovely kid but very much 'in charge' of everything they do), and he just never seems excited about anything they do at school. He's fine going in, no upset etc. but then I'm starting to learn that like me, he keeps his cards very close to his chest.

my question is, does this sound familiar to any of you home edders? I'm planning a chat with his teacher but I don't know, my gut is telling me we might need to change.

ommmward Wed 04-Jun-14 09:38:51

I wouldn't bother asking the teacher whether she thinks he'd be better off out of school. That's a turkeys voting for Christmas scenario.

in time shoes I would spend the next few weeks finding out about local he networks, do some serious thinking about what your educational approach would be (on the spectrum between boxed curriculum structured and totally autonomous). Then just gently live that lifestyle over the summer holidays. Last week of august, ask your son "do you want ti go back to school or just go on lik This?" ans take it from there smile

DrLizShaw Wed 04-Jun-14 10:06:06

Oh yes I wasn't planning on asking his teacher about home edding, more that I was going to see what she thinks about his general happiness. She was quite insightful at the last parent's evening.

I've spoken to lots of parents who say that their reception age children are difficult at home and refuse to talk to the parents about what they do at school. It does seem to be quite a common situation, in fact both of mine were similar.

I'd try working on a few things, while you consider is HE is the option you want to go for.

a) review bedtime - can you bring bedtime forward by an hour? Aim for 6pm for a while.

b) take a snack and drink when you pick him and get him topped up immediately.

c) give him quiet time when you get home, no rushing around, socialising etc. just 30mins to settle.

d) try asking different sorts of questions about his day, instead of saying "what did you do today" (answer: nothing) ask him specific questions about things you know he's done or ask silly questions "Did you fly to the moon today? No? Gosh, what did you do then?". But I really don't think that not talking about school is necessarily a sign of unhappiness, it can just be that they either can't be bothered or don't want to tell you.

e) friendships are very fluid in reception, if he has fallen out with a friend it may not last for long but the teacher should be able to keep an eye on the situation and hopefully reassure that he is playing with lots of different friends.

Good luck.

DrLizShaw Wed 04-Jun-14 10:36:31

Thanks mrscakes.

He gets school transport home and gets a snack and a drink the minute he arrives. Transport no problem, he has a taxi with a lovely driver. DH drops him in the morning.

I just don't know. Last time he went through a phase like this he was three and it was nana who eventually got it out of him - he was afraid of a boy at preschool.

Saracen Wed 04-Jun-14 12:15:44

Yes, I do think that taking your son out of school is likely to solve all of the problems you've described - plus possibly a few others which have crept into your lives so quietly that you'd forgotten things used to be different. For some little kids the transformation is immediate; others take several months. I do agree with MrsCakes that your son's reaction to school is not uncommon, but I'd be wary of concluding that that makes it OK.

Anyway, if you are thinking of home educating, it makes sense to tackle the problems at home which led you to send your son to school in the first place. You said his behaviour improved dramatically after he started school, so it seems that school did address some of his needs, at least initially - presumably his need to get out of the house and do new things. What could you put in place that would make life better this time around? Are there local clubs and activities you can get him to easily? Is there an "after-school club" of the childcare variety at any local school - these are usually open to everyone, not just those attending the school? Have you checked to see whether any home ed families live near you? Now your baby is a little older, can you get out more often as a family, even if it's just to jump in the puddles and look for snails? Can you get anywhere interesting on the bus?

DrLizShaw Wed 04-Jun-14 14:02:02

Hello (again!) Saracen.

Yes I think school does address some needs. He's an interesting chap who comes across as very confident, but I think a lot of it's bravado. He was a nightmare last summer but I think a lot of that was down to being stuck with DD and I and not having a car. I'm learning to drive which is one obstacle gone. DD is three (now she really IS a confident child) and things are getting easier.

I think what makes me wonder is that if I were to ask him today if he wanted to stop going to school (not that I would mention it yet), I honestly don't know what he'd say. He's so hard to read, even for me.

Saracen Wed 04-Jun-14 15:44:00

Wow, I didn't realise you were learning to drive; that could make a great change for all of you. Fantastic!

Your son might not know what to say if you asked him now whether he wants to stop going to school, because he doesn't really know what alternative he's being offered. In some ways home education is like weekends and school holidays, but in other ways it feels different. For that matter, you yourself won't know exactly how it will be until you have got stuck in! Ommmward's idea could be a good one: give your son a taste of what home education could be like (including meeting up with other HE families if that appeals), then see how he feels in the autumn.

In such a situation it wouldn't be uncommon for the child to choose school, but then come out after a few months, once the novelty of a new teacher etc has worn off and the reality of going every day hits home. Knowing he has a choice can change his perception of school. Some people have to dip in and out a few times in order to feel really sure of what they want. There are plenty of kids out there who, if asked, will respond that they "like school" and who have never protested about going in, but who still choose to be home educated once they are given that option.

DrLizShaw Wed 04-Jun-14 16:27:05

Thanks. I hedged round the subject today and asked him if he likes school, what's his favourite thing etc. He seems happier today. I really like the idea of implementing something over the summer that could remain in place in Sept, even as a supplement to school.

only time will tell I think for now.

lljkk Wed 04-Jun-14 19:52:49

I find asking about their social life has the most success in understanding the quality of their school life.
Lots of who did you play with today, what do you play together, what do they like, who else do they play with, etc.

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