Monday, 13 September 2010

Ideas to boost my daughter

Not Guiding I know, but I’m asking for help from you guys, especially those who may have been through it.

Daughter is finding the transition to secondary school tough. Nothing major has happened, but the stress of lots of little things has combined to make her say I hate secondary school this morning – and she LOVED primary school so this is very new.

The little things:

• The friends she goes with walk slower than her, she worries about being late in the morning (alternative is walking alone, which I will let her do rather than worry but I’ve told her to stick it out with her mates until she actually is late as it is better to be in a group)

• The software that registers the kids for the canteen and library keeps breaking down, she was given a penalty by her registration teacher for staying in the queue as the technician told her to, thus making her late for a lesson (this was later retracted due to the obvious injustice, but it was really upsetting for her)

• Her instrument lesson is scheduled during another lesson, so 20 mins out of the 60 mins class. She is worried about a/ not being there at the start of the main class and therefore getting a penalty (I told her her classmates will say she is at her instrument lesson) and b/ the fact that this lesson is a new subject and there is only one per week and she will miss 1/3 of it each week (can’t do a lot about that, I have told her if she finds it very hard, we can withdraw her from instrument tuition at half-term and we’ll look at having instrument tuition after school somehow)

It’s been bad enough that the school have actually rung me one day to say she was not well, she was flashing hot and cold. I am 100% certain she felt ill, but she felt ill because she was stressed about these things.

This is before we even add homework etc!

I keep telling her in a month’s time, she will be in the routine, it will all make sense to her, she will wonder why she was getting so stressed about these things now. And that when she has a problem she can’t see how to deal with, tell me, and we will work out the solution.

What else can I do – all constructive comments welcomed whether you’ve had a kid start secondary or not but particularly from those who have. My brother remembers losing his money for pictures a week into starting and scraping together the money himself and forging a note from mum saying sorry the money was late, all because he didn’t want to get into trouble. His guidance teacher pulled him out of class, showed him the note and asked him what this was all about, he confessed, and his teacher pointed out he had already handed the money in. So he remembers how tough starting a new school is, but my daughter feels like she is the only one struggling.

Update: She had more highs than lows today for the first time, she got to school on time by marching ahead of the others (suspect she may just end up walking alone), she finally got registered for the software thanks to the lady on reception who looked after her when she felt ill and arranged for her to have it done today, her instrument lesson went well and she made it to the other lesson without missing too much. She did feel ill again but managed to stay in class.


Jen on the Edge said...

We went through this with our older girl last year and it is tough. Yes, it will take time for the adjustment, but there are a few other things you might able to do that will hopefully help.

We had conferences with G's teachers, who offered to reach out to her. It was little things, like one teacher asking G to help her with something, so our girl felt useful and also a bit special. All of the teachers helped our girl meet new friends too, because she didn't know anyone.

Our school also has a counselor for each grade, so the one for that grade invited G and a few other girls to have a special lunch with her. From that jumping off point, Mrs. K stayed in close contact with G and checked in with her about once a week or so and listened when G expressed concerns or stress.

At home, we kept a close eye on things and talked with G daily. We kept her stress outside of school at a minimum, but also didn't let her wiggle out of responsibilities. I made sure she was eating right and sleeping enough, plus she got plenty of exercise, which helped her sleep better. (A perpetual problem.)

For us, it took a couple of months, but she finally settled into things.

blackbird said...

Being in touch with the teachers isn't a bad idea, though, I'd give it some time before you do. Secondary school is typically the time to start backing away, HOWEVER: it can be a great time to touch base with her guidance counselor. Let that person know that your daughter is feeling bumps in transition and is sensitive.
(And, oh boy, do I know what that is like. Youngest is terribly sensitive and it took him most of freshman year to get used to missing lessons for music, being occasionally late, and losing track of things.) It sounds like she's a good kid, my prediction is after a couple of teary days and some time finding her feet, she'll be okay - and so will you.
Email me if you'd like to talk more!


Kelloggsville said...

My H has also started Secondary this year. She has come home in tears a couple of times because she doesn't understand something like when she can go to the office to collect a form or what the homework task on the board meant and she is too frightened to ask. She is stressed mega about things like where she may or may not eat a snack and isn't drinking all day becuase she is worried she may need the toilet during a lesson and won't be allowed to go. Silly small things but to her HUGE issues. So I would say first : don't panic, you are not the only family going through this stress at the moment and it will ease off as they get used to it. I have moved all H's music lessons to a private tutor after school and it is surprisingly not that much more money and so worth the no-stress of missing lessons and taking instruments on the bus. If her first major stress of the day is being late then let her walk it alone. Do the school have a 'no show' txt service? That way you can be confident she is there safe and her first trauma of the day is circumvented. My H's temperature goes up when she is over tired and stressed. Me personnally I go incredibly dizzy. It is a physical reaction and it is no fun but maybe you could help her to recognise what it is an see if she can go to the toilet to run her wrists under the tap and just chill for a minute? *sigh* this parenting game just gets harder doesn't it, because really now they have to fight their own battles and climb their own challenge mountains. Big hugs to you xxxx

Anonymous said...


I have emailed because a reply would be far to long for a comment, but as they say been there, done that and got the t-shirt and survived, me the children, the school and all of our sanity.

Hope her week continues to get better and if it helps I had this same conversation this morning with a friend whose daughter started her secondary school last week as well and this week is "not so keen" and did not want to go in this morning.


Working Mum said...

Aw, poor girl. I do feel for her as I do for all my year 7s at the moment. As a secondary school teacher I know how huge the change is for year 7s. All those different lessons with different teachers in different classes with different books is bad enough, without throwing in negotiating the canteen and instrumental lessons. Hopefully, things will settle down as she learns the ropes, it usually does in 99.9% of cases and then there's no stopping them!

It may be worth finding out if the school have a mentor scheme (we attach trained sixth formers to each year 7 class to help the newbies; the sixth formers wear special badges and can be stopped by any year 7 in the corridors to ask them for help, it works really well).

If she does still find it hard by half term, a quick phone call to her form teacher will enable her teachers to know to help her with organisation and to keep an eye on her. One thing that I would recommend is that she joins a couple of lunchtime clubs, they make friends outside their form and it increases their self confidence no end.

As for the instrumental lessons, the teachers should be used to the system and have ways of making sure she doesn't miss work (I print off what we've done from my interactive whiteboard so the pupils can just stick it in their book rather than waste time copying up) so I'm sure that will settle down as well.

I'm sure that in a couple of week's time you and she will be wondering what the difficulty was!

Tawny said...

I can't add much more than what has been said. K is coping quite well at the moment but as the homework is getting more I can see signs of her beginning to worry. How about taking a packed lunch for a few weeks until the canteen situation is sorted out? I feel for you I do.

I am sure like the others have said we will all look back on this time at Christmas and wonder what we worried about.

alison said...

Sorry I didn't see this til now. I can't think of anything that the others haven't mentioned, but it seems like good advice.

I remember being horribly shy in high school (hard to imagine, I know) as we had moved the summer between elementary school and high school. I remember my mum telling me all the same things -- give it time, you'll learn the routine soon, etc. And I remember not believing her and thinking she couldn't possibly know what it was like. I also remember a month or so later, things were fine, just like my mum said they'd be.

Here's hoping that things improve soon.

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