Mum to mum – I need your advice. Guest post from Ces Loftus

We recently moved from a not so nice area ‘Up North’ to a lovely area in our dream location Dorset. We had been trying to move for over a year and the new house was found just in the nick of time as things were so bad in the old area that our car was attacked and pelted full drinks cans almost smashing the window glass with our children sat terrified inside the car. The culprits were kids from the awful local school were our boys had to go to (another reason we were so keen to move)

Homeschool Fun

Image by Chiot's Run via Flickr

Rather than send them back to the awful school after summer 2010 we home schooled the boys, whilst also running our full time brand buzz and design business from home and trying to find somewhere to move to at the other end of the country.

We finally moved 5th October and applied immediately for a school a 22 mile round trip away as it had spaces for all 3 of our boys and also gave the eldest the opportunity to go to middle school instead of starting his first year of  high school half way through a term.

Because of red tape procedure and the fact it took the old school so long to complete the forms for Poole education board, it was the second week in November before the kids actually started their new school. Having moved to an area 9 hours drive from where we used to live in Wirral combined with the fact they hadn’t been at school since mid July, the change has proved challenging for our youngest.

Xan is five. He spent the first few weeks crying his eyes out at school and saying he hated it and just wanted to be with us.

He is behind in work ability as the last school were useless and says that he doesn’t understand what to do in class. The school have been trying to help him however couldn’t hold the whole class back to sit with Xan all day.

One day he was so upset and explained to me in great detail how he felt like he was holding onto balloons and floating higher up into the sky on his own and he was scared. That he wanted to come to mum and dad and he could see us on the grass below getting further away. Between sobs he explained he wanted to come to us but was scared to let go of the balloons and drop down and he felt lost and alone in the big sky.

It was such a descriptive thing to say it just stopped me in my tracks. We told school about this and devised reward charts used at home and school where he could earn a treat at the weekend and we would help him do some practice work at home. We are still trying this but after a few more weeks things have just been getting worse.

He has gone from upset to naughty. He refuses to do any work or join in with anything at school which is very disruptive and some of the other kids think it will be okay for them to refuse to work too (I do feel sorry for his teacher). Even with a teaching assistant sitting with him to try and help he just says no and totally refuses to do anything or he just scribbles.

Xan ran off and climbed on something unsupervised when he should have been joining in PE and refused to take part in the Christmas play. We were called to the head teacher last week because they saw him hit another boy. He is still insisting the other child pushed him in the groin under the desk but no one saw that. Now the school have said if his behavior doesn’t improve he wont be allowed to go to the Christmas party or see Santa at school and he will be put to sit in the library in the other building day in day out as they can’t allow him to disrupt lessons like this. The school are looking for us to fix this and we really don’t know how. For all the naughty behavior I can see it is because he is not happy and it makes more sense to me to do something about the reason he is acting like this rather than punishment and reward offerings over the results of his behavior.

We have tried talking to him and reasoning, offering all kinds of incentives however he is a strong willed little chap and I don’t know how to get through to him. He really needs to start joining in at school before he gets even more behind the others and alienates potential friends. I love him to bits and it is upsetting not knowing how to make things better for him.

Mum to mum – I need your advice.

Ces xx

on twitter @Ces_Creatively

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  • Jayne

    I really enjoyed your post and greatly admire the fact that you’ve admitted you need advice. So often, parents muddle along and can end up in an ever worsening situation.

    In my opinion, it sounds a lot like your boy is suffering from separation anxiety. The upheaval of moving to a new area was somewhat cushioned by the fact that he got to spend the first few months at home with you, being home schooled, and now that he’s been sent to a school that’s 11 miles away, the anxiety has set in. Because he’s so young, he’s not able to articulate this to you and his feelings of anxiety, coupled with the feeling of being misunderstood, are what’s leading to his naughty behaviour.

    I think what he really needs is reassurance. He’s obviously aware of the distance his school is from home and aware of how long it would take you to get to him if he needed you. Is there any way that you could go to school with him and stay on the premises, just for a couple of days, until he feels a bit more secure? Or find a way of bringing home to school with him, a favourite object or something? I honestly think that it’s a need for comfort and reasurance, and once he’s found these, his behaviour will improve.

    Good luck, let us know how you get on.

  • Kate Scott

    Why not continue the Home Education? He’s so young still, he wouldn’t have even started school in so many other European countries x

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  • Morag Gaherty

    I agree that this is probably mostly about separation anxiety, given the events in your life recently. Xan may be a bit behind with schoolwork, and that no doubt adds to his worries. It’s frustration, not naughtiness, which makes him react this way.

    It is entirely legal for you to ask if he can be flexi-schooled for a while – maybe he’ll have two days at home each week, on an agreed basis. The school doesn’t have to agree to this, but they are supposed to take any such requests seriously. And if Xan is as disruptive as they claim he is, they’ll probably jump at the chance!

  • Jackie

    Sorry, I don’t know. But I do know Sue Atkins has a good book ‘Raising Happy Children for Dummies’ – she might be able to help?

  • NikkiPilkington

    Oh Ces how sad you must feel for your little boy. It does seem he has got into the habit of being with you, and it’s hurting him to be away from you. But with a business and a home to run you may not be able to carry on the home schooling.

    I think the advice about you being in school with him for a few days is good – a whole day at first, then maybe just the morning, then an hour or so; just so he knows you’re nearby.

    Does his school have any sort of psychologist or counsellor? That may be an option to get him to talk through his fears, with or without you and Jay there?

  • Naomi

    Hi Ces, It sounds like your little boy is making a massive cry for help. He so loved being at home with you. You made him feel safe and secure when he had to up root and move to a new area. It sounds like he does not like his new school environment because of what he had before with you and he is showing this by being distruptive. He is communicating let me stay at home else this is what I will do. Going forward can I suggest he speaks to someone about how he feels and what changes he would like to see in his life. Is there anyone locally he would talk to that could sit and listen be non-judgemenal? Maybe someone like me (but not because I am in London). I think the security of having something with him to make him feel safe is a great one. What else will make him happy to stay at school? Explain that there are no other options so how can you both make the most of this situation? I hope that helps.

  • Ces_Creatively

    Thank you for your comment. He always gets upset if he doesn’t get to see his brother in the playground too so it is like he desperately wants something/someone to make him feel comfortable. We have seen a real improvement this first week back at school after xmas although he still hates it. We tried getting him a new bag and took him to the toy shop to choose a reward. At least he is trying. Fingers crossed.

  • Ces_Creatively

    Wish we could but we run a full time business from home and work all hours as it is. I couldn’t do that realistically. I’m sure Xan would love it though! :)

  • Ces

    I am hoping he has turned the corner now and is going to settle in okay. It just isnt practical to home school. My hubby and I are self employed working from home and if we dont work we cant pay the rent and bills. Cali our middle child is the shy one. We have been really shocked that it is Xan struggling… thanks for your comments

  • Ces

    thanks I will check this out :)

  • Ces

    Hi Nikki, thanks for commenting.
    I’m not sure the school would allow me to go in + knowing the way he is he would just get dependent on it. Would be worried of making it worse… plus after all the transitional months, work is busy + with getting the business known in a new area too so we really cant afford to have me away from the business.
    The school did have a counselor but she left (funding cuts) the week after they started #typical!
    Well, hopefully he has seen the light and will continue the good start he has made in 2011 so far :)
    Ces x

  • Ces

    Thanks for your comments Naomi.
    If it goes backwards we will have to push to find someone he can speak to. He just shuts off. As you say “He is communicating let me stay at home else this is what I will do.”… As I have said in the above replies, so far he is improving this year so have to play it by ear for now.

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