First Grader Doesn't Want to go to School - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 09-04-2012, 06:19 AM - Thread Starter
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My 6 year old started school last Monday. He went to all day kindergarten last year, and Pre-K the year before at the same school. He LOVED school the last 2 years- loved to go and had fun- he was even sad last year when school was over. Last Thursday morning, he was crying, saying he didn't feel good, that he felt like he had a fever. I took his temperature, and he didn't have a fever, and told him he had to go to school. He kept complaining that he didn't feel good, and then said his ear hurt. I went around with him about how he needed to tell me the truth, about how he needed to go to school, about how you only stay home from school when you're really sick, etc. Long story short- got a Pediatrician appt since he has a history of ear infections. Doctor looked in his ear and said his ear drum looked fine, but did see some redness and inflammation, so diagnosed with externa otitis media and gave us some antibiotic ear drops. Left the office, and would have been back to school/ home around 12, and school is over at 2:50. I told him I was going to take him to school for the rest of the day, and he started crying, saying his ear hurt. At this point I couldn't tell if it was the truth or not, but I had a doc's note, and he had already missed 1/2 the day, so would be counted absent anyway, so I let him stay home. My husband I lectured him all day about importance of going to school, the law, and jgetting an education and good job when he grows up, etc. I didn't let him play video games, watch TV, or play outside- all which he was upset and couldn't figure out why I wouldn't let him do it, b/c he was home sick. We had a camping trip planned for the weekend b/c he was off Fri-Monday, and I threatened to make us stay home, but he promised he was going to be good on Tuesday. So, because we had already paid in full for the trip, we went. He was good all weekend, and when I would talk about school on Tuesday, he would always say he was going to be good. So, today is Tuesday, when I told him to brush his teeth, he said he didn't feel good, and couldn't go to school. Luckily, my husband didn't have to go into work as early this morning, so he was still here, and helped me get him dress, brush his teeth, etc. We explained to him Again, the importance of going to school, etc. I told him that once he starts learning things and getting used to things he'll be better. My husband took him to school and I stayed home with our 3 year old. My hubby said when he went into the classroom, somebody asked him why his eyes were all red (because he been crying the whole way to school) and then he started crying, and ran out in the hall after his dad, saying he wanted to go with him. My hubby said he had to take him back in the room 3 times, after he would run out after him, and finally a teacher from another classroom came out and got him, so my husband just walked away. I am kind of upset that his teacher didn't intervene. Last year, my son had 3 of his good friends in his class, and this year, none of his good friends. There is a new principal, and I heard he purposely split all of the children up. There are only 15 kids on his class. He said 1 boy in his classes bosses everyone around, but he said he does it to everyone, not specifically him. He said a girl in his class made fun of him 1 day in class because he lost a game. He was upset because he had his hand up to go to the bathroom, and said the teacher looked right at him, and then turned around and did something else. Everything that upsets him seems like very miniscule things. The biggest thing is that he says it's boring. Last year, they had different "play" stations that they got to go to a couple of times a day. This year he has gym/ music on alternating days as soon as he gets there at 8:15. Then it's back to sit at his desk until 11:15, when he has lunch and then recess, then back to his desk until he leaves. He said it is just too boring. I told him he will start having fun when they start learning things. It is extremely upsetting to me, because I don't like seeing him so upset. He used to love school. One of his friends would cry a lot about school last 2 years, and he just didn't understand at all why he was upset, and would say he was acting like a baby. He had an Exceptional teacher last year, and they absolutely loved each other. I've only talked to his new teacher on the open house day, so I don't really know much about her, but I know she's definitely not as welcoming as his old teacher. I just don't know what to do! I realize I am doing some damage control now, and wish I had made him go to school last week. I will not be there to drop him off at school the next 2 days because I will be at work, but the next day is Friday. I also wish my 3 year old son didn't have to see him like this, because I don't want him to think that is what he is supposed to do next year when he goes to Pre-K! Help!!
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#2 of 5 Old 09-04-2012, 08:15 AM
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hug2.gif  That sounds sad for everyone. Some children can have a tough time adjusting to the 1st grade classroom but I also wonder if there isn't more going on and he can't explain what is bothering him. 


I'd start with asking for a meeting with his teacher to let her know how stressful he is finding it and get her views on what she has noted. She'll just be getting to know him and his classmates, so she may not have much insight yet. Usually, it makes sense to wait a couple of weeks before meeting with the teacher, but in this case, it's a good idea to get everyone on the same "team" since there are already some concerns with how he is coping. 


Is it possible for either you or his father to spend some time in the class - possibly as a volunteer - and observe how he interacts with everyone? That might give you some insight as well. 


I would also try to arrange an after-school or weekend playdate with a classmate to help him start making some friends in the class. The teacher may give you some ideas on who to invite if your DS doesn't provide a name or two. 


Is he finding the lack of play and the need to do deskwork "boring" or is the work itself too boring? Teachers tend to ease into the school year with a lot of review so he may find this work repetitive and uninteresting. On the other hand, the teacher may have miscalculated and hasn't found the right level of work for this class and the work is too difficult. That's something that should improve as the teacher and class get into stride. 


Finally, I wouldn't withhold any treats, threaten or otherwise add any pressure to this already stressful time for him. He's probably coping the best way he can right now. He needs lots of support and some help to work through this adjustment period. 


Good luck to you all. 

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#3 of 5 Old 09-05-2012, 08:08 AM
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1st grade can be a tough transition for some kids. There are a lot more (academic) expectations than K or pre-K. It's no longer so much play, but a lot more desk time.


I agree with olly that a conference with the teacher may be a good idea - you need to find out if "bored" means the work is too easy or too hard, and then figure out how to solve that problem.


One thing that struck me about your post... how your son kept telling you he'd "be good". Why does he feel that having a problem with school equates to *not* being good?


When one of my two stayed home "sick" (regardless whether they were actually sick or pretending to be for whatever reason - and yes, it happens), my rule was that it would be a quiet day. No running around or being boisterous, but quiet and calm activities were fine - reading, watching tv, playing video games, playing a board game together, etc. was okay.

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#4 of 5 Old 09-05-2012, 08:38 AM
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I think time spent in the classroom volunteering is ideal, but agree with the others about meeting with the teacher.  If it is primarily a social issue, playdates could help.  Has he had playdates with his other friends that he was split up from?  Maybe also talk to their parents and see how they are making the transition?


I would be cautious in revoking privileges and giving long lectures.  I think that approach is a bit heavy-handed with a kid who is obviously under alot of stress and emotional upheaval already.  As you stated, he doesn't really understand why you are taking his activities away (other than a vague notion that he needs to be "good"?) and he's too young for talks about society, the law and his future - those are pretty abstract boogeymen to a first grader.


It may be hard to discuss what is bothering him, or he may not be able to name it.  Perhaps you could plan more one-on-one activities with him, that would give him time to feel secure, process his emotions and open up.  I think his feelings need to be acknowledged and validated, even if they seem miniscule to you.  Those reasons may be the tip of the iceberg, or they could loom large in his mind.  Either way, nobody is going to fully open up if they don't trust they are being listened to, respected and heard. 

I know you have to do what you can do to get through the day, but it sounds like you may be sending mixed messages that his feelings and reasons don't really matter, he just needs to suck it up and be "good," kwim?


eta: Could you go through his concerns and come up with a game plan for each?  Ways to deal with bossy kids, etc.?  Maybe that would help him feel more secure, to have tools in his toolbox.  The "boring" issue will have to be discussed with the teacher, but you may be able to come up with ideas for the others.  Good luck!

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#5 of 5 Old 09-06-2012, 11:08 PM
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I agree with setting up a meeting with his teacher ASAP.


I also agree with taking his concerns seriously and helping him brain storm ideas or going to bat to help him out. I would not want to go anywhere that I wasn't allowed to go pee when I need to. That's really basic for me. I feel for you little guy. Like wise, with the bossy kid and the girl who was mean once, helping him find ways to deal with his peers *as reasonable* for his age and ability provides him an opportunity to grew, or letting the teacher know about the situation if it isn't something he can grow into pretty quickly.


On one hand, I think when kids learn to deal with stuff on their own, it helps them long term. At the same time, sometimes that just isn't possible and they need an adult to intervene. It had be hard to tell the difference. May be when you and your son meet with the teacher, she'll be able to talk to him about these situations and offer something useful for him.


One of my kids has anxiety problems, and for her, none of it is about being "good."  When her anxiety is acting up, she is truly doing the best she can, and her responses to things are no more "bad" than a child with a cold is being bad when they cough. It just is what it is.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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