My daughter is unhappy at school with a strict teacher

What to do?

Ever since she returned to school after the long summer holiday she’s been different.

Last year she couldn’t wait to get to new school each day (she started half-way through the year, for term 3 and 4). She would be the first up in the house. She’d make her breakfast and be waiting eagerly for her Daddy to finish getting ready and take her to school. She’d come home from school energized, enthusiastic and so happy. She was gutted when the end of term arrived.

This year, is very, very different πŸ™

We’ve been aware of her holding a lot of emotion in. Unfortunately she takes out her feelings of frustration and unhappiness on her middle sister – two and a half year’s younger and being home-educated due to being unhappy in a school setting (there’s a pattern here…).

Well, this year she’s reluctant to go to school every day, lacking in energy, unenthusiastic. She complains that she sits with her hand in the air for most of the day without her questions ever being answered. She says maths is too easy… and then it’s too hard – as she’s told to use ‘number lines’ to add up 233 + 313, which she can already do it in her head – so why is she being made to do it on a number line – it frustrates the hell out of her – but she doesn’t feel able to discuss the matter with her teacher.

The ‘topic’ of the term is about ‘themselves’ (she’s 8!). She’d much rather learn about space or dinosaurs, planet Earth and the nature around her (when she gets the chance to escape the classroom). Lessons consist of predominately maths and english. She yearns for more science.

On the up side – she does love French and Art (with different teachers). She enjoys the extra-curricalar sports, music and drama classes.

But, what to do with her unhappiness at being in a classroom where she feels scared. It sounds like the teacher is running the class-room with military precision (she tears pages out of books when the work’s not up to standard – apparently). All we know is our daughter says, ‘It’s just not interesting like it was last year and I don’t feel able to ask a question’.

As parents, what frustrates us the most, is that we switched to a private school half way through last year, in the hope of a happier school girl. It seemed the perfect fit and she was, truly, thriving last year in her new school. She made the choice to attend the new school. She asked to go there. She asked for, ‘More challenges, smaller class size, single-sex,’ (though she has many friends who are boys she found them distracting in a class of 30 children). We weren’t sure – wondering how she’d cope making new friends (she said she was fine and looked forward to having the opportunity to meet new people – and indeed she settled in so fast and is very popular with her peers). It’s so hard to see her so unhappy, especially after such a promising start last year.

Last year, in her two terms at her new school, she missed maybe one or two days of school.

This term, already, she’s been absent at least one day a week (last week it was three days). Yes she’s had a cold and still suffering some hayfever, but last term she would definitely have soldiered on. She’s not eating properly – lunch box barely touched and throwing dinner secretly out of her bedroom window. When she stops at home for a day she eats really well and wants to do maths on the computer, read books and learn.

It’s so sad to see her so unhappy and also very frustrating when we’re paying huge school fees that we can’t really afford (the mortgage is being paid off a hell of a lot slower than it was!). I know this is all very personal to ‘put out there’ on this blog – but this is reality and it’s affecting us as a family. I find it amazing that so many people never mention their children having a ‘hard time’ at school. It’s like there’s an ‘image’ to keep up of, ‘My child loves school, is thriving and is wonderful…’

Well, when our children are unhappy at school they either tell us, or show us with emotional outbursts – which we eventually discover the root cause of. I’ve heard some parents say, ‘My child is grumpier since being at school or there’s a lot of back talk of a negative kind.’ I know when my children are like that – it’s because often they’re experiencing an unpleasant feeling at school, away from the home, that they can’t always put into words. Of course they are meant to respect their teachers and there need to be rules and consequences for inappropriate behaviour, but this should be earned in my eyes – not dictated. When our children are under the guidance of a positive, inspiring teacher, with clear boundaries, they thrive and are happy at home and school. But, we are currently experiencing the polar opposite.

I did what an Internet loving mother of this age would do and ‘Google’ searched for some answers. If you’re experiencing a similar situation you may be interested in the links below. For us, we’re going to meet with the head of the junior school and see if our daughter (who is youngest in her class) can maybe go into the Year 4 class instead – where she’ll not be the oldest and will be with a teacher we all love and admire. Her current teacher leaves middle of next term (we don’t know who the replacement is), but we’d rather have our happy, confident girl back than risk waiting. It’s heart breaking to see her feeling so suppressed.

Links:

My child is having a hard time adjusting to a strict teacher. What can I do? – from Babycenter.com

The Strict Teacher v. The Fun Teacher – Teach. Travel. Taste.

What to do when your child hates his teacher – msnbc.com – TODAY

Strict parents raise better kids – what they do differently