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School overnight field trip

post #1 of 59
Thread Starter 
This really has to do with parenting and the family bed, but I'm going to put it here because it's probably most related to school.

Dd, 2nd grade, attends a language immersion school that she absolutely LOVES. She has been there from the 3yo program, being immersed in the target language and she has friends that she literally has grown up with. She thrives at this school. She is social, loves her teachers, is independent and one of the best students in an academically challenging environment that suits her personality well.

However, there is one thing that we are apprehensive about. The kids in 2nd grade are required (part of their grade) to spend a night at camp. It will increase to when they will eventually start doing exchange programs abroad in a few years. So this year, one night, next year, two nights, ect. 3 trips abroad between 5th and 12th.

Here's the thing... dd can't sleep alone yet. She has not spent a night outside of the family bed since she was born 8 years ago. I take that back, she'll occasionally sleep in my mom's bed (mom lives with us in her own addition on the house), but most of the time, she ends up back in bed with us even then.

She does sleep in the top bunk above me when we rent cabins with bunk beds. Sometimes she climbs down and gets in bed with me, but can and has slept by herself when we've been camping.

She wants to go on this trip (and "technically" it's required), but I respect her needs and know that eventually, she *will* outgrow wanting to co-sleep. I co-slept with my parents (at the foot of their bed, not between them) until I was about 9. Then after they divorced, my mom and I often slept in the same bed because we were both lonely (I was around 12) and I had just lost a brother to a fire and was scared. I understand the need to have family around you when you are at your most vulnerable time of the day (or night as it were). I respect that in dd. (She's an only child, btw.)

I don't think that the school will accept this to excuse her from this trip. Eventually, I *DO* want her to be able to go on these trips, as the cultural diversity is one reason we're sending her to this school. Just the other day I was at a meeting and when someone found out where dd attends school, they said, "Oh, yeah, I know that school. They say that eating lunch there is like eating lunch at the U.N." It really is a great school and I think she would benefit in many ways if she could go on this 2 day camp. I really think if she'd just go, she would have a BLAST! But I won't force her and the idea makes her very nervous.

BTW - no parents allowed on the trip.

Sorry this is so long. Anyway, I'm looking for any suggestions, thoughts? We've been talking to dd about this for a year (knowing it was coming), and she has tried to sleep alone, but it never worked.
post #2 of 59
She's 8. She wants to go. I think she understands the consequences of choosing to go - she has to sleep alone. If she can't sleep, she'll have a rough night. Children act very differently in different contexts and different people. My son is capable of falling asleep on his own at daycare. At home? No way.

Chances are, they won't get much sleep anyway! Or, they will be so worn out that they will all sleep easily and soundly. If she is uncomfortable, is there someone she can go to to talk about it? Counselor, teacher? Does she have a friend she can confide in if she is scared?
post #3 of 59
I would not harp on the fact that she will be sleeping "alone" that one night, especially if she is otherwise eager to go. In any case, she will be with friends and other known adults will be close by, so not exactly the same as sleeping in a big room by yourself. If she is just nervous, but not panicked about it, I would just focus on all the great things she will get to do at the camp. She just might surprise you (and herself). If she does want to talk about it, get down to what her exact fears are so that you can address those, rather than the "general" idea of sleeping alone. And let her know that it is only for the one night and she can come back to your bed when she comes home.
post #4 of 59
I expect that she won't be the first child who is a little lonely, homesick or scared at bedtime at the camp. Even if the other children have been used to sleeping alone, bedtime problems occur pretty often at sleep-away camps.

I would speak to the school and teachers/camp counsellors about your concerns and ask how they handle lonely children at bedtime.

You can try some of the techniques parents use for separation anxiety during the first days of school. Give her a special comfort object to hang onto at bedtime, and maybe a letter to read or a recording of your voice (unless you think that will make her even more homesick).

When she has tried to sleep alone, has it been in a room by herself? I imagine at camp she will be in a cabin or tent with several other children and possibly a teacher/counsellor. It isn't quite the same as being in bed with mom and dad, but it isn't the same as being entirely alone in a room either. If she's slept in a bunk bed, it won't be too different.
post #5 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASusan View Post
She's 8. She wants to go. I think she understands the consequences of choosing to go - she has to sleep alone. If she can't sleep, she'll have a rough night. Children act very differently in different contexts and different people. My son is capable of falling asleep on his own at daycare. At home? No way.

Chances are, they won't get much sleep anyway! Or, they will be so worn out that they will all sleep easily and soundly. If she is uncomfortable, is there someone she can go to to talk about it? Counselor, teacher? Does she have a friend she can confide in if she is scared?
Dd has never been able to fall asleep without us in the room. She is a horrible sleeper and always has been. When she was small, her sleep cycles were 37 minutes and if I wasn't there with my breast ready to nurse her back to sleep, she would cry and not go back to sleep. That was the only time I ever tried to let her cry herself back to sleep and it was so horrible for both of us, I swore I'd never do it again. Even now she doesn't STTN and reaches for me in the middle of the night... if dh or I are not in bed, she's wide awake trying to find us.

Her best friend is in another class and will not be in the same cabin as her. It might be a good idea for me to see if they can't make an exception and put her in with her best friend, though. Thanks for that suggestion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amma_mama View Post
I would not harp on the fact that she will be sleeping "alone" that one night, especially if she is otherwise eager to go. In any case, she will be with friends and other known adults will be close by, so not exactly the same as sleeping in a big room by yourself. If she is just nervous, but not panicked about it, I would just focus on all the great things she will get to do at the camp. She just might surprise you (and herself). If she does want to talk about it, get down to what her exact fears are so that you can address those, rather than the "general" idea of sleeping alone. And let her know that it is only for the one night and she can come back to your bed when she comes home.
I haven't harped on the fact that she'll sleep alone. I've been stressing that it will be like camping. She loves it when we go camping, but her nighttime fears definitely trump any daytime enjoyment. She is stressed about this, and I'm stressed trying to find a good solution. I think she should go. I won't disrespect her needs, though. I hope you're right and that she'll surprise us both if she goes. She won't even spend the night in my mom's room, though, so I'm not holding out hope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
I expect that she won't be the first child who is a little lonely, homesick or scared at bedtime at the camp. Even if the other children have been used to sleeping alone, bedtime problems occur pretty often at sleep-away camps.

I would speak to the school and teachers/camp counsellors about your concerns and ask how they handle lonely children at bedtime.

You can try some of the techniques parents use for separation anxiety during the first days of school. Give her a special comfort object to hang onto at bedtime, and maybe a letter to read or a recording of your voice (unless you think that will make her even more homesick).

When she has tried to sleep alone, has it been in a room by herself? I imagine at camp she will be in a cabin or tent with several other children and possibly a teacher/counsellor. It isn't quite the same as being in bed with mom and dad, but it isn't the same as being entirely alone in a room either. If she's slept in a bunk bed, it won't be too different.
She has tried to sleep alone on a camp bed in our room. She hasn't been able to do that. She DOES sleep alone in the top bunk camping, though. She will be with other children. I hope I can get her in with her best friend as a pp suggested.

Great ideas... thanks everyone. Just talking about it make me feel better about encouraging her to go.
post #6 of 59
a) it's one night, if she doesn't sleep well she will manage and b) it's camp with a bunch of other kids, they will probably chatter and giggle til some ridiculous hour anyway, and then sleep from sheer exhaustion.
post #7 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calidris View Post
a) it's one night, if she doesn't sleep well she will manage and b) it's camp with a bunch of other kids, they will probably chatter and giggle til some ridiculous hour anyway, and then sleep from sheer exhaustion.
Thanks for the reply.

One night, yes, but if it's traumatic for her, then how will it go when she has to do it next year, and the next year? Better to have her feel confident about going the first time so that she doesn't have fears later. That's what I'm thinking, anyway.

Unfortunately, they won't get to stay up and chat. It's not going to be quite like summer camp in that respect... more strict. And I don't think they'll let dd sleep with a friend if she gets scared. She doesn't have a lovey or anything she sleeps with (except mom and dad).

I want dd to have a realistic expectation and be able to accept the trip on her own terms. I don't want to ruin it for future years, IYKWIM.
post #8 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Thanks for the reply.

One night, yes, but if it's traumatic for her, then how will it go when she has to do it next year, and the next year? Better to have her feel confident about going the first time so that she doesn't have fears later. That's what I'm thinking, anyway.

Unfortunately, they won't get to stay up and chat. It's not going to be quite like summer camp in that respect... more strict. And I don't think they'll let dd sleep with a friend if she gets scared. She doesn't have a lovey or anything she sleeps with (except mom and dad).

I want dd to have a realistic expectation and be able to accept the trip on her own terms. I don't want to ruin it for future years, IYKWIM.
I think that if you drill in reality to much she will be scared to go and have a hard time seeing the fun side of sleeping at the school and it will do more damage than if you try to talk about the sleep over as positive. This is a big adjustment for you, it is hard when kids sleep over somewhere else for the first time. I think you need to be careful to just tell her what the sleeping arrangements will be then help her plan for how she will help herself be happy for the one night. Try not to let your sadness and worry overshadow her excitement.
post #9 of 59
Maybe you and she can pick out a special stuffed animal to be her "lovey" for this trip. Something she can hold onto, cuddle up with, and whisper her fears to.
post #10 of 59
Have you discussed her night time issues with the teacher at all? Is there anyway you could pick up late at night and drop off early morning? Sorry you (and she) are having so much anxiety. My ds went on a trip in 3rd grade for 4 days with school. Only about 2/3 of the kids went due to the length. Now in 5th grade, they all went for 5 days.
post #11 of 59
Does the school need volunteer chaperones for this trip? Maybe you could do that...?
post #12 of 59
Could you do something like send along a portable CD player with some soothing, familiar music, or a relaxation or story cd? Would it be helpful to have something from you with her? A recorded message for night time, a letter to read?

I really get this. My dd is older, but really stresses about overnights. It produces a lot of anxiety. If she's motivated to stay overnight she'll often keep herself awake the entire night. I didn't mind so much when she was younger, but now I think that there are implications, socially as well as for other interesting opportunities.
post #13 of 59
Thread Starter 
My anxiety from this only comes because she has been talking about it a lot and when she does, she is wringing her hands and acting very agitated. I *WANT* her to go. Dh and I have not had an entire night in our bed together for over 8 years now... believe me... I WANT this to happen and am trying to handle this in absolutely the best way possible for it to happen.

They are talking about it at school a lot. For some kids, this is the first time camping and others are scared about that aspect of it (not dd, though, as we camp a few times a year, primitive and in cabins). I don't bring the subject of the trip up unless dd does and then I calmly try to just tell her that it will be just like when we go cabin camping, except there will be other adults instead of us. The trip is in 3 weeks, though and they are talking about it more and more. It's making dd more and more anxious.

Unfortunately, her beloved teacher that would be a huge comfort to her will not be in the same cabin. It's a male teacher and he will be with the boys. Her cabin "mother" will be the French teacher (dd is in Spanish immersion) and dd says she is a strict teacher. I think that has her worried as well. Dd is a very loving, hugging, gentle personality. She's not really sensitive, but speaking harshly to her makes her feel isolated and vulnerable. This teacher is not known for gentle understanding. I can imagine, if dd is really scared, that she would just spend her night crying quietly under the covers and not saying anything. No matter what circumstances or what age, I would NEVER want my child to have to go through that.

I don't know why I'm explaining all that. Just that this will be her very first time away from home. She will not have a trip to the grandparents or a sleepover at a friend's or a night at her cousins' under her belt, so this will be a HUGE leap for her and I want to make sure it's a great experience.

It sounds like most people think I should just make her go even if she is apprehensive about it.

I like the idea of buying a lovey specially for this trip. I think we'll do that.

Again, I appreciate the replies. I realize that people with older kids, even if they co-slept when they were younger, probably cannot imagine what an 8 yo is still doing co-sleeping. Maybe I'll post this in the family bed forum. I know there are some people there still co-sleeping at this age. The camp itself is not a problem at all... it's just those dark hours and if you're afraid of the dark, you're afraid of the dark. Heck, *I* don't like sleeping alone.
post #14 of 59
Okay, here's what I would do. I have an anxious 3rd grader and we've got an overnight school trip coming up this year, too.

First, does she have her own bed? Try lying down with her in her own bed (we recently got a bunk with a double on the bottom just for this reason) to get her to sleep. After she's asleep, having told her about this ahead of time, make your break for your room or wherever else in the house you want to go. Be sure to tell her ahead of time that you might get up out of the bed and she is welcome to come find you. You want her to have some success in sleeping alone, but you don't want it to be a big "you have to sleep in your own bed" thing. She is welcome to come crawl in bed with you. When you've had some success with that and she is sleeping some amount of time on her own in her own bed then proceed to step 2 — the sleep-over!

Do you think the best friend's parents would be up for a couple of sleep-overs? I'd start by having the best friend come over to your house for a sleep-over and see how that goes. You can still lie down in dd's bed or read them a story or whatever seems best. You could let them both come sleep with you if needed.

After some success with best friend sleeping at your house, try moving it to the best friend's house. Let the parents know that they can call you if necessary. If it seems like dd needs that reassurance, too, you can tell her that as well, but if it seems like that's just going to make her want to call then maybe hold off on planting that seed.

With all those successes under her belt see how she feels about the camp now. If she feels successful at sleeping without you then chances are she'll be fine and ready to go.

hth
post #15 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMommy2 View Post
Does the school need volunteer chaperones for this trip? Maybe you could do that...?
No, teachers only.
post #16 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post
First, does she have her own bed? Try lying down with her in her own bed (we recently got a bunk with a double on the bottom just for this reason) to get her to sleep.

After some success with best friend sleeping at your house, try moving it to the best friend's house. Let the parents know that they can call you if necessary. If it seems like dd needs that reassurance, too, you can tell her that as well, but if it seems like that's just going to make her want to call then maybe hold off on planting that seed.

With all those successes under her belt see how she feels about the camp now. If she feels successful at sleeping without you then chances are she'll be fine and ready to go.

hth
Thanks. Yes, I've tried putting her to bed in her own bedroom (which she's had since she was born). She won't go to sleep. Hours and hours. Even in our bed, she takes 1 - 2 hours to go to sleep... always has. But in her own bed, it's even longer.

IRT the sleepover at the best friend's house... the friend doesn't do sleepovers either. It may be because of how far we live from each other... almost 2 hours. We live an hour from the school and the best friend lives on the opposite side of the city. They don't even have playdates but once or twice a year and only in the summer because they live so far from each other.

We have asked dd if she would spend the night with *my* best friend, though, who lives next door. She is a bit older than me, childless, in her 50's, very loving with dd and only 50 yards away. Dd *is* considering that as an experiment. We're still negotiating.
post #17 of 59
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post
Could you do something like send along a portable CD player with some soothing, familiar music, or a relaxation or story cd? Would it be helpful to have something from you with her? A recorded message for night time, a letter to read?

I really get this. My dd is older, but really stresses about overnights. It produces a lot of anxiety. If she's motivated to stay overnight she'll often keep herself awake the entire night. I didn't mind so much when she was younger, but now I think that there are implications, socially as well as for other interesting opportunities.
Thanks, that's a good idea. I'll see if they will allow it.
post #18 of 59
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
My anxiety from this only comes because she has been talking about it a lot and when she does, she is wringing her hands and acting very agitated. I *WANT* her to go. Dh and I have not had an entire night in our bed together for over 8 years now... believe me... I WANT this to happen and am trying to handle this in absolutely the best way possible for it to happen.

They are talking about it at school a lot. For some kids, this is the first time camping and others are scared about that aspect of it (not dd, though, as we camp a few times a year, primitive and in cabins). I don't bring the subject of the trip up unless dd does and then I calmly try to just tell her that it will be just like when we go cabin camping, except there will be other adults instead of us. The trip is in 3 weeks, though and they are talking about it more and more. It's making dd more and more anxious.

Unfortunately, her beloved teacher that would be a huge comfort to her will not be in the same cabin. It's a male teacher and he will be with the boys. Her cabin "mother" will be the French teacher (dd is in Spanish immersion) and dd says she is a strict teacher. I think that has her worried as well. Dd is a very loving, hugging, gentle personality. She's not really sensitive, but speaking harshly to her makes her feel isolated and vulnerable. This teacher is not known for gentle understanding. I can imagine, if dd is really scared, that she would just spend her night crying quietly under the covers and not saying anything. No matter what circumstances or what age, I would NEVER want my child to have to go through that.

I don't know why I'm explaining all that. Just that this will be her very first time away from home. She will not have a trip to the grandparents or a sleepover at a friend's or a night at her cousins' under her belt, so this will be a HUGE leap for her and I want to make sure it's a great experience.

It sounds like most people think I should just make her go even if she is apprehensive about it.

I like the idea of buying a lovey specially for this trip. I think we'll do that.

Again, I appreciate the replies. I realize that people with older kids, even if they co-slept when they were younger, probably cannot imagine what an 8 yo is still doing co-sleeping. Maybe I'll post this in the family bed forum. I know there are some people there still co-sleeping at this age. The camp itself is not a problem at all... it's just those dark hours and if you're afraid of the dark, you're afraid of the dark. Heck, *I* don't like sleeping alone.
I would never force my child either. It sounded from your first post that did want to go to the camp but was "nervous" about sleeping away from home. If she is so scared that she does not want to go after all, I would not push her to go either. It is not a one-off experience - she will have other chances at sleepovers and camping when she is ready. I would really leave the decision up to her then and let her know that you support whatever choice she makes.
post #19 of 59
I'm kind of confused about what your dd's feelings are here. You say you don't want to force her, but you also said she really wants to go, and yet she is stressed.

What does she say about the trip? I agree that you shouldn't force her. But there is a difference between forcing and allowing her to go, even though she has some apprehensiveness about it.

What is the ratio of eager to apprehensive?

Personally, I think you should let her go if she wants to, talk a little about what she's going to do to get through the night, and then not make a big deal about it.

I agree with pp who said that kids act in very surprising ways when they are away from the family and home. She may well be just fine.
post #20 of 59
Oh Mama, I just wanted to say that I understand completely! My 7 and 8 yos are still in our bed. The 7 yo would move if the 8 yo would go with her but, the 8 yo is absolutely not ready.

I understand where you're coming from. My 8 yo would really want to go too but the sleeping thing would cause her a lot of worry and anxiety as it got closer and closer.

For us though, we wouldn't allow a trip where parents weren't allowed. It would just never happen. I don't see how they can tell you that you must allow them to take your child and you're not permitted to go.

Can you go just on your own? Not as part of the group? For me, I just don't believe in sleeping away from your family so this would not fly with me. But, you have to do what's right for your family. But, I do get where you're worried about her reaction to sleeping away from you.

Hope you find a happy solution!
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