child plays with leaves

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.

Struggling At School

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6 Responses

  1. Nic

    Oh bless him. My youngest son struggled in year one too. As the youngest child in his year he was suddenly expected to perform at the same level as children almost a year older than him. I remember him coming home and telling me he wasn’t very clever which was heartbreaking. He’s now in year four and thankfully has caught up and loves school. But those early key stage years were very tough.

    • Honest Mum

      So hard isn’t it but your comment has reassured me. Missing those 3 weeks really set him back. He’s one of the eldest but is quite young in himself. Things have improved a little so hope they’ll continue to xx

  2. Francesca

    Really sad to read this post Vicki. I really feel for you and Xander. I have been working with schools and children for the last 15 years and I know how important it is for a child to have positive learning experiences suited to their learning style. It is hard for these guys. In other countries proper schooling does not start until they are 7.
    It is great that you are speaking to the school and to Xander. It is good to get this sorted in year 1 as year 2 is SATS year and schools tend to get more ‘serious’ sadly. Sometimes the true reason is not obvious so do persist. If it is appropriate/feasible ask the school if they would agree to flexible schooling for a limited period of time at least. That might ease the pressure and show him that you are taking action and taking him seriously.
    Together you will find the best solution that is right for him. The most important thing that you are doing is listening to him. It is so vital for him to know that you have truly listened and understood him. I am sure you do this; do talk to him about times where you had difficulties at school and how you overcame them. It is hard for you both but also an opportunity to strengthen your relationship and his confidence in overcoming difficulties. It’s all about building resilience in a supportive way. Good to hear the school is responsive, that’s a good sign. Hope it all gets sorted soon. Keep us posted.xx

    • Honest Mum

      Thank you Francesca, the school have been very supportive and we talk endlessly and about my own experiences too. I used to teach myself which helps. Thank you for taking the time to comment, he’s already feeling better x

  3. Kim Carberry

    Sending big hugs to you! It is tough when a child doesn’t want to go to school. My youngest has had her ups and downs with school, mostly downs and it’s hard, on them and us! The transition from Reception to Year 1 is such a massive change for little one’s. It’s full on learning and they are still so little.
    Both of your boys are so bright and I am sure Xander will get there in the end. xxx

  4. Joana at Mind The Mummy

    So sad to read Xander is struggling and feeling down. There is a lot of pressure on kids these days and it doesn’t help if they are having external issues or impairments, even if temporary such as the wax blocking his ears. As the mum of an autistic little boy who has just started reception and is struggling quite a bit with sensory issues which in turn impact on his emotional well being at home, I totally empathise with your anxiety. I too have been crying the tears and feeling helpless, even though he is still making remarkable progress despite everything. We simply are not equipped to bear to see our children suffer or struggle. We would give limbs to take it away or turn into a human sponge to absorb all their pain. It’s hard but take each day as it comes. As long as you know he is in the right place, with the right support structure both at school and at home, you know you are doing your best as a parent even when it doesn’t feel like it. Take heart in knowing he is lucky to have you and that this is for sure but a stone in an otherwise happy road. Much love to you all xxx


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