The last few months haven’t been the easiest here in all honesty. My youngest son Alexander, 6, has been finding school hard since he returned in September, and it’s affecting me hugely. I held the tears back just writing this.
My usually fun-loving, warm son full of joie de vivre and silly jokes up his sleeve (‘I just want to make people laugh, Mummy, it makes me soooo happy’), has become oversensitive and anxious of late, crying easily and finding the simplest of tasks frustrating.
I relate completely because his mood has brought out exactly the same stress symptoms in me. I’m crying at the drop of a hat, I losing sleep and frankly feel in turmoil, seeing my son so unhappy.
I realise the transition from Reception to Year 1 is vast and it’s probably the biggest milestone he’ll face during primary school as he’s left the more carefree initiation into school behind and is now into more formal education but it doesn’t make it easier to handle. He’s 6 years old which is still incredibly young and he’s stressed.
We also discovered today that Xander’s ears are blocked with wax after his teacher showed concern over his hearing. We hadn’t noticed there was an issue at home but he’d missed instructions on several occasions in class which alerted them to the fact something might be wrong. Both he and Oliver are thankfully well behaved at school (they KINDLY leave the bad behaviour for us at home) so the teachers worried when Xander failed to hear them.
This temporary hearing loss has undoubtedly impacted his learning to date and while he’s a bright, mature boy with an extensive vocabulary (thanks to his older, academic brother), he’s, on the contrary finding writing and reading tough-going.
Having time off during critical learning periods last year due to illness haven’t helped matters, but equally, I believe children grow and flourish in their own time. Oliver struggled with reading and writing at his age but is now deemed ‘over-achieving’ by his teachers and zooms through books.
It goes without saying, we all want our children to do well and have the best chances in life, but what matters most to me is their happiness. That they feel emotionally safe and happy day-to-day. I say this as a former teacher and also a parent.
I’m writing this post to help me process and to hopefully help YOU process if you feel the same way. It’s heart-wrenching to hear your child doesn’t want to go to school day after day and I needed to share. He told me earlier today, ‘I’m sad at school because I miss my mummy loads and loads’.
On reflection, Xander hasn’t ever wanted to leave my side. He didn’t fully settle into nursery and was still crying at drop-off six months before he left to start school. He loved our days together, as did I (hello flexible working hours as a blogger) and recently asked me why I can’t teach him myself at home, even learning what Home School meant in the process.
I used to teach English GCSE but I’m certainly not equipped to teach Year 1 and more so, I like his school and want him to attend there, not only for the purpose of education but to boost his social skills and help him to feel part of a community. That’s by no means dismissing Home School or how worthwhile it can be, it’s just my own personal opinion and aspirations for my child.
His teacher praised his presentation in class, he’s got a speaking role in assembly and I see the things he’s achieved with me at home (his love for the camera) and his surprisingly in-depth understanding of plot and character when it comes to films, and not forgetting his huge heart and generous nature and I’m blown away. That little boy gave me such immense support during some of the hardest times in my life: losing my auntie Zak and a recent thyroid operation and deserves to feel confident and happy.
I know he will get there but in the meanwhile it’s tough for us both.
So, I’m talking to him, I’m listening, hugging and kissing him, all the while going back and forth to school to discuss the issues we’re facing with the teachers I know are committed to helping him.
Hopefully, soon enough, my old (young) Xander, the happy boy I know and love, will be back before I know it enjoying life once more. Childhood is so short and precious, and should be lapped up and loved.
These are the days of his life, after all.