Harry has been at school for two and a half weeks. It’s not long I know but I am disappointed with so many things, not regarding the school itself, which is one of the best around here, but with the educational system and problems inherent with schooling generally. These include:
- the fact that in those weeks, he has done no music or art.
- Physical Education is restricted to once a week because of the focus on literacy/numeracy requirements.
- despite having a role-play area in the classroom, Harry hasn’t used it once. Nor has he had any lessons in the forest area adjoining the school despite the head saying that both these things were used regularly in lessons.
- the teacher heard him read on the first few days, presumably to assess his reading level, but he hasn’t read to a teacher or teaching assistant for two weeks.
- there seems to be so much rough play in the playground which the teachers don’t see (some of the playground is out of sight of the teachers which seems extraordinary given that they are supposed to be looking after the children, some of whom are only four years old).
- when Harry has gone to sit on the Friendship Bench when the boys’ play gets too rough, often no-one comes to offer to play with him. A bit pointless having a Friendship Bench then really.
- when Harry has been doing work at home I have heard him say to himself on a couple of occasions, ‘I’m so stupid’ when he gets something wrong. That’s what the boys say in his class about themselves and each other.
- he has been made fun of when he has done work on the interactive whiteboard.
- the parents were called in to a recent meeting to explain how the work was being stepped up after half-term to meet literacy/numeracy requirements. The showed us what they would be doing and what sort of homework Harry would be expected to complete daily. It all looked so boring, I felt my heart sink.
- although there have been one or two instances of exciting work, Harry has frequently complained the work is boring – copying writing off the board and the like. Get ready, my son, because clearly it’s only going to get worse.
- he says (but I have to take this with a pinch of salt because I didn’t see it and I find it hard to believe – although not impossible as you will see) that he has been punched by the other boys in his class in the playground ‘because he is the new boy’. More likely he is just involved in the fights going on. He seems drawn to the more exciting looking boys but then wonders why he finds it all a bit rough. How to explain to seek out the quieter children? (I know there are one or two).
- most worryingly, at home his behaviour has been violent: he has punched Matthew in the back and hit me in the stomach. When we talk to him about it he says that’s how it is at school and he needs to be able to punch and hit. The trouble is, I believe him. Obviously we tell him that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable at home but it really concerns me that, at five years old, he feels he has to be so physical in order to be able to cope with the playground. It’s marginally better than being pushed around, like he was when he first started school last year, but still. I understand that boys need to exert energy and much of that is done through play-fighting and real fighting and Lord knows I see enough of it between my two eldest boys, but this kind of violence is on a completely different level. He has now been on half-term break for a week and although he has been poorly with croup he is only now just becoming more like the boy he was before he started back at school.
All these things are in addition to the tiredness, lack of concentration, socialization problems and nightmares (not about school, but curiously he hasn’t had a single nightmare during the half-term break) I have already posted about and the underlying feeling that I have made the wrong decision.
Like most parents, I want the best for my children. I think I can overlook almost all the problems with schooling except the violence bit. I’m not seeking reasons to homeschool again, but I will take him out of school again if I need to.