Starting school for the first time is often quite a stressful time for both parents and children alike. It’s a massive change, and can take some getting used to. Of course every child is different, and while some take to this whole school thing like a duck to water, some don’t handle the change quite so well.
I really thought Caitlin would be part of the first group. She spent a lot of the summer telling me how excited she was, almost counting down the days until she could go to school. She was thrilled by the prospect of meeting new people and making lots of new friends.
Last year we had a tough home to school transition with Neil, but we had prepared ourselves for that. This year, with Caitlin, I expected it to be different. I expected her to skip in to school each morning without a care, and then come bounding out at 12.30 full of stories. Instead, when I pick her up, I see pure relief in her smile. As children head away with their mummies and daddies, calling ‘bye’ to each of their friends, Caitlin stares straight ahead, desperate to get away.
We take the car home with one of the girls in her class and her mummy. The little girl often tries to talk to Caitlin, but again she stares straight ahead, without a response. When we get out of the car she won’t even say bye to them. If anyone tries to talk to her at the bus stop in the morning she turns to face the other way. I’ve tried to gently encourage her to reply but she won’t.
I even had her class room assistant pull me to one side on one of the days and say they were concerned that she wasn’t well because she had been very quiet and wouldn’t speak or join in with anything.
I’ve asked her what is wrong, why she won’t speak to anyone and she says it’s because she is shy. It breaks my heart to think of her sitting at school feeling like she can’t talk to anyone or join in.
The whole thing seems to be really upsetting her, and the worst thing is, she is too afraid to tell me.
She plasters on a smile and tells me she loves it, but her actions tell a different story. She’s been asking if I will sleep with her, and often climbs in to my bed at night, something she hasn’t done for a while. She has also been bursting in to tears over what would seem like the silliest of things.
I found her standing in Neil’s bedroom one night when I came upstairs, and jokingly told her she had been caught red handed. She ran out of the room sobbing and barricaded herself in her bedroom, which is another thing she has been doing a lot recently.
When I ask her what is wrong she tells me nothing. I’ve tried to ask if school is upsetting her and she says no. I don’t want to push it because I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, because it’s probably not a big deal. It’s probably just a case of Mummy being a massive worrier, as I always am.
Now I know what you are probably thinking, and it’s the same as what others have said to me, “Give it time, she’s only been at school for a week, she will settle in”, and I know these things can take time, but I just hate the idea of her feeling sad or left out.
I signed her up for singing lessons in school, hoping that will help boost her confidence a little bit. She had her first lesson today, and was so excited that they got to sing ‘Do you wanna build a snowman’ from frozen. She also has some colouring in, and a little set of instructions of how to stand for singing, which she has to practice at home.
Does anyone have any advice on this, should I be giving her time to find her feet, or should I be encouraging her a bit more? Am I making a big deal out of nothing?