Monday, 4 November 2013

ANXIETY & the return to school

Half term is over & Esme's back to school again (Year 1)

Some of you have been reading about this time last year when Esme Grace returned to reception after her first ever half term holiday. It is unbelievable to me that a whole 12 months has passed and here we are again... 

I'm wondering how much has changed. Reading back, it would appear not a lot. My bright, confident little Esme has got to the same point in the school calendar, just one year further, and decided she'd rather be at home. 

Although today, I have to say she seemed okay about going. Although that's today. And that's with the lure of the school photo. See, just the same as last year. 

So I'm left wondering, how will it be tomorrow?

I'm only asking, as my little girl lately has been crying in the mornings before school, begging me not to take her. And any parent going through that, knows it is one of the toughest things to tackle. For child and parent. 

Especially when it comes out of the blue. BUT, you see the good news here, is that Esme eventually settled into reception really well, with no other problems or anxiety about attending school for the rest of that year. Fingers crossed, history will repeat itself.

We enjoyed such a fabulous Summer together Esme and I, I've no doubt it has been difficult for her to adapt to school life all over again. And then there's the fact that her school split the classes up. Took all the youngsters out of their comfort zone, breaking up a lot of friendship groups in the process, and throwing them into not only a class with a new teacher, but with new children too.

The school says they do that, so by the time the children get to junior school, they will know and will have been in a class with every child in the year. On some level that makes sense. But on another, with children as young as Esme, it simply doesn't.

After all, she only just turned five. There are already kids in the reception year below her that are the same age. (Don't get me started on that issue. Just pop here to sign the Too Much Too Soon Petition and to read Siobhan's - from Everyone else is normal blog - thoughts on the matter, she sums it up brilliantly).

Being just five, I figured Esme was super tired. It is a long day. With loads of pressure. Not to mention homework at the end of it. And those are the days when we don't have a swim class or a play date - the latter now restricted to two days a week at most. 

Along with the tiredness though, have been Esme's many comments on why she doesn't want to go to school, including: "I don't feel safe without you Mummy."  

A few weeks back her behaviour became erratic and aggressive, to the point where she (words fail me here) pushed a two year old lad off the top of a slide. Thank goodness, his parent caught him before he was physically hurt. He was dangling 5' off the ground. 

Fortunately, this behaviour (that which is totally out of character for Esme), all seems to have returned to normal, but when will the other stuff settle down?

She has been playing alone at break, bravely telling me, "It's okay though Mummy, as there are things to climb on in the playground, and I like climbing." Then there are the occasional mentions of so and so not wanting to be her friend anymore. Something I've always been quick to disregard as kids being kids... fickle ones at that. 

The other interesting thing about this whole situation, is that when I talked to Esme's teacher about these struggles, she was very surprised, saying, Esme is one of the most enthusiastic, confident pupils in the class. She said, she'd keep an eye out so we could follow up on parents evening.

Recently, during that parents evening, she told us of how she had observed Esme in solitary play. And how Esme often lacks concentration.

I should point out here incidentally, that a year ago, Esme's reception teacher also picked up on this, however she dismissed it, saying Esme was bright. She felt that Esme had already grasped what she was teaching, and had long moved on - into fairy land.

Esme's lapses of concentration, are doubly hindered by the fact that she is easily distracted. She also has an incredible imagination. 

And so I ponder... boredom, fatigue, stress, or a developmental phase? Hopefully it is the latter. And one that will soon end with my Esme a more contented, settled child, once again in the zone of wanting to go to school.   

FOOTNOTE: Fortunately for me, Esme is an eloquent little girl, that can tell me how she feels. I'm left wondering about those children that withdraw, unable to express any sentiment?

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