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Help - Children Who Don't Want To Come Into Class In The Morning


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Hi, first time I've ever posted on here, so hope someone can help. I haven't been teaching in reception for that long, not quite a year, so any advice would be a help.

 

Have a new class as of September which is much larger than my class last year and has quite a few boys. I have two boys, who to different degrees, have difficulties coming into class in the morning. This is something I've not faced before, my class last year were through the door and more often than not forgot to say goodbye to parents, and this is the same for the majority of this years intake, bar two.

 

One little boy refuses to come through the door and stands the other end of the playground. Mum either has to pick him up and carry him to the door and either myself or my TA have to physically carry him into the classroom and shut the door or we have to go get him. Some days are better than others, but we do sometimes have tears which continue as he sits on the carpet, however on other days once he is in he is fine. If you ask him if he likes reception he says no, but during the day he is always happy, plays well with the others, is always keen to do any activity we have going and does not appear in anyway shape or form unhappy. In fact he is always laughing and having fun. He is quite clingy to adults in the classroom if allowed to be i.e. wants hugs, wants to sit on your knee etc, but we discourage this as much as possible. I have tried to get him to help me in the morning - distraction technique - but this only worked once and hasn't worked since. He is a lovely little boy, bright and loves school. Mum is supportive but perhaps not always helpful and she is often reminding (telling?!) him how he doesn't like school.

 

The second boy is more extreme, when he started school in September he would cry (and I mean cry!) and scream and cling to his Mum. He would get hysterical when he realised he had to come into the classroom and Mum was leaving. Once he was in the classroom (after a little bit on manhandling) he would continue to scream and cry and bang at the door to get out. After a week or two this calmed down and he started coming in a lot easier. We have now had half term and the behaviour has returned but worse than ever. I, and my TA, have tried the talking to him approach to calm him down. We have talked about all the things he enjoys doing in reception and all the fun he has - this hasn't worked. We have now started ignoring him and although it takes a long time he does eventually calm down and join in with the rest of the class. But the ignoring approach is hard on us, hard on him and hard on the rest of the class. I also have a lot of parents looking on and this is making uncomfortable as I am worried about what they are thinking. The funny this is that when it comes to home time (he is part time) he gets upset as he doesn't want to go home.

 

I have three concerns (in order of priority!)

 

1. The well being of the two children in question and reducing their stress levels

2. The well being of the parents, parent of child number two gets particularly anxious and upset

3. How this reflects on our classroom and on me as the teacher (selfish I know!)

 

If anyone has any suggestions I would really appreciate them. As I've said I've not experienced this before and not sure how to handle it, especially as the two boys in questions appear to be having such a lovely time in school once they are in.

 

Thank you in advance. (sorry the post is a little long!)

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I'm preschool so it may be different for us - other parents sort of expect children to have days when they won't come in, and we cope with that in a variety of ways.

For some children, a very quick exit by Mum is the best, no chatting about 'mummy's coming back' because they latch onto that and repeat it ad nauseum! I know it sounds harsh, but for some children they seem to cope better with this. No doubt a psychologist could advise whether it has any long-term effects we're unaware of, but the children we've had in the last 18 years didn't seem to 'hold a grudge' about it!

 

We take lots of pictures of them being happy and having fun and stick them in their home diary as a discussion point at home. We tell them at hometime what exciting things we're going to do the next day. We let them borrow something to take and bring back next day. We ask them to bring in something for a display. We ask another Mum to bring them in. I'll keep thinking what else and get back to you!

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Hi Kate15 and welcome to the forum.

 

Have you tried asking the parents to come and spend some time in the classroom in the morning settling these boys before they leave? I can understand why the second mum is so anxious. She must be wondering whether what she is doing is right.

 

If the first little boy feel the need to have hugs do you need to discourage him. Perhaps he would settle better if he felt that he was more emotionally supported.

 

Could you do a little bit of work with these boys to clarify their feelings about school. Perhaps ask them to show you through pictures or photos what they like about school. This could lead on to a similar activity identifying what upsets them.

 

What do the parents think? Could they have some ideas which you could work on together?

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I was wondering about boy number 2. Sounds like he needs lots of warning of change. How about doing a pictorial timetable for him with a strip of card with say 8 velcro spots on and the 8 sessions of the day depicted. He can pull the pictures off as the day goes on and each rip of the velcro brings him nearer to home time. May help him to anticipate change better.

If things improve he can then help to stick the days activities on whilst you talk through what's going to be happening.

 

Would either of them benefit from getting in a little bit earlier and being the first in? Much easier for some children to walk into a 1:1 situation rather than be last into a crowd scene.

 

Mum number one isn't helping is she? Maybe arrange to see her on her own and talk through how she is feeling about him starting school.

 

Could you or TA manage a home visit for either child? Might help to build a bridge for the boys.

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Thanks for your responses.

 

We do give him hugs, I didn't mean to suggest that we are cold and ignore his needs. It's just not appropriate all the time and we try to encourage him to go and play or join in an activity rather than be with either myself or my TA for too long a period at a time. He is a very sweet boy who enjoys reception. I do think Mum is helping to foster this idea that he doesn't like school when he clearly does. I like the idea of taking something home and bringing it back the next day.

 

If I thought it would help I would ask Mum's to come into the classroom, but I don't think, especially with the second child, that this wouldn't help. Mum has admitted that at home she does everything for her older son because it is easier than getting him to do it whereas at school we expect them to do things themselves, e.g. tidying up. We have open mornings when all parents are invited in to see what is happening at the school which have been very successful but proved very stressful for this little boy when it came time for Mum to leave.

 

We have tried the tough root - Mum says goodbye, gives him a kiss, and then makes a swift exit. I have no problems with this and I think it does minimise the stress for them both as the longer she stays the more distressed he gets. But I want to find ways to encourage him to come into school by himself rather than having to be dragged in.

 

I did wonder about asking Mum to come a little earlier than the other children and bring him into the classroom and get him settled in. This way we don't have the stress of trying to let the other children in, while trying to stop him escaping - but not sure?! Also wondered about trying a sticker chart - gets to add a sticker to sheet when if he comes in in the morning without crying then at end of week if all stickers are on chart he gets a reward? Really want to make things easier on everyone.

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I was wondering about boy number 2. Sounds like he needs lots of warning of change. How about doing a pictorial timetable for him with a strip of card with say 8 velcro spots on and the 8 sessions of the day depicted. He can pull the pictures off as the day goes on and each rip of the velcro brings him nearer to home time. May help him to anticipate change better.

If things improve he can then help to stick the days activities on whilst you talk through what's going to be happening.

 

Would either of them benefit from getting in a little bit earlier and being the first in? Much easier for some children to walk into a 1:1 situation rather than be last into a crowd scene.

 

Mum number one isn't helping is she? Maybe arrange to see her on her own and talk through how she is feeling about him starting school.

 

Could you or TA manage a home visit for either child? Might help to build a bridge for the boys.

 

We did home visits over the two days before they started in reception. We went to each childs house and met with them and their parents. Got them to show us their rooms, favourite toys etc. Was very successful and both of these two boys were very excited to see us.

 

I think a meeting with Mum number one would be very useful - she is clearly influencing his perception of school and possibly even putting thoughts/feelings across which he is then copying.

 

I'm not sure if boy number two has a problem with change - he is very willful and from watching Mum and the things she says I feel she just lets him do as he pleases as it's easier. I also think he is enjoying Mum being at home as Mum has had to give up work when he started school. She couldn't get childcare that could collect him from work 5 days at week. Mum made it very clear when we did the home visits that she wasn't happy with giving up work - she wanted him to be full time straight away.

 

There is clearly a lot going on here!

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Do either of the children have particular friends that they are close to? depending on the parents what about trying to work it so that they arrive in school at the same time, walk in together sort of thing. Not the easiest to manage, but we have some children who freeze if they get to school before their friends, and are fine once their friends arrive.

 

We have a little girl who even now continues to cry once mum has gone. She constantly asks when mum is coming back, when is it home time, why can't mum stay.... We starting being quite sensitive, reassuring her, comforting her, but mum and I decided the best way to handle it was tough love. Mum gives her one last kiss and cuddle, then she goes. Me or my TA keep an eye out and the first hint of a tear we step in to keep her occupied with an activity. We've also set up a deal with her that if she comes to school for 5 days in a row with no tears, mum will come in to help. So far this hasn't happened, but she's desperate for mum to come in so she's trying and we are making progress. I think 3 days is her record now!!

 

It's so hard. And I totally agree with your third point about how it reflects on us. When you can't calm a child down and the parents are watching it does make you feel like all eyes are on you and you're not doing it right. But that's where your relationship with the prents is so important, if they know you and know that you are doing your job to the best of your abilities, they will suport you not judge you.

 

Hope you manage to make some headway with these children :o

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Could you provide the boys with a reward chart each? A little boy in my class was extremely upset leaving mum in the morning. He is really into surfing so I made him a surf chart. If he came in with a smiley face every morning throughout the week he could bring his surfboard into school. This worked and broke the cycle. If not maybe you should ask your SENCO to come and observe ans the problem might be more than just a separation issue.

 

Good luck!

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I have sometimes found that another parent ( one of their friends) bringing them to the setting,instead of their own parent can work wonders................there's no-one to manipulate by their crying etc.Is it worth trying this, even if only once or twice, to see if it makes a difference?

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I agree with Narnia, sometimes at pre-school we find it is better if dad brings them in - nowhere near the amount of tears.

 

I also agree that parents can be rather negative about school - we had one boy who left in the summer (he was rather young 4 on the 30th August). We had never had any settling problems with him at all, but in the run up to leaving mum would quite often say he wasn't looking forward to school etc. in his hearing - low and behold come September and he was crying and making all kinds of fuss at the classroom door.

 

Perhaps your parent needs to be much more positive in what she is saying to her boy, give her some advice on the kinds of things she might try saying and doing to promote school in a good light!

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Perhaps your parent needs to be much more positive in what she is saying to her boy, give her some advice on the kinds of things she might try saying and doing to promote school in a good light!

Perhaps there's also a lesson here for how we in pre-school prepare our children (and their parents) for the transition to primary school? After all it is much easier to warn parents of the dangers of filling children's heads with fears that might not be there than pointing out them out to a parent who may have already done so.

 

Something to think about when we're planning our children's transitions.

 

Maz

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I run a pre-school setting. Have tried all, stickers, bringing in something for collage, having a special day, getting someone else to bring child in, doing a drop and run. staying till child is settled BUT found what works best is to get child to come in later. Once all the hustle and bustle is over things are calmer and parents have left our staff are easier able to cope with a reluctant child. I just don't feel its fair on my other parents if they are unable to speak to me about their child because of another screaming child.

Its not a reflection on you Kate there is usually a reason stemming from home that makes a child feel insecure. Is seems as though parent 1 is insecure without her child and child of parents 2 resents the discipline of school. If its any consolation things always do improve.

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We have had this very problem this year with a little boy who screamed himself rigid every morning and stood clawing at the door shouting for mum. We too tried loads of things but found the best thing was like bubblejack a later start. We also had him finish a little earlier. Over the first half term we have increased the time he finished and then two weeks before half term we started five minutes earlier each day. He came back after half term a little upset but no where near the state he was before. Last week he started as nomal but finished thirty minutes earlier. Today a full session with not one tear!

Mum had her concerns and we worked with her to try and settle him and allay her fears. Sometimes it is small steps over time for both child and mum. We are Nursery by the way.

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