I recently wrote about our discovery that some of Mini’s less desirable behaviour was down to school. It’s taken us a while to link the two because, quite frankly, he is an angel at school. They’ve always had good things to say about him. His teacher has called him a model pupil. He has a small, mostly lovely group of friends (all girls). He’s never been in trouble. And he’s excelling at literacy and numeracy.
Over the last few months, we’ve learnt that when Mini is feeling emotional – happy, upset, anxious, angry, the first thing to go is bladder control. When upset he just can’t stop himself, or hold it in although sometimes when he’s angry he exerts control over his ‘little man’ and wees on purpose, telling us as he does so.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that if Mini is dry (day and night) during the holidays, but wet (day and night) during school term-time, it’s because he’s anxious about school. Previous half-terms haven’t displayed it quite as clearly as the most recent break…which is why we’ve only just made the connection.
Today I had a meeting with Mini’s reception teacher (Miss U) to discuss what might be making him anxious – as we’re now pretty confident that Mini’s school related anxieties are specifically because of all these different teachers. Read more about why we think that here.
Miss U pointed out to me that now she has taken on the role of SENCO (earlier than planned) she has little choice but to be out of the classroom at times as the ‘powers that be’ are instructing her to do so. She told me that she feels guilty, and misses being in the classroom so much. I understand that she’s been thrown in at the deep end – and I understand that she has to do what her manager is telling her, but I’m really disappointed that the people at the heart of all of this – our children – are not being considered. And that parents haven’t been made aware of the change in teaching staff/routine. Incidentally I only know about her change in position via the school nurse, who happened to mention it a few months ago…no other announcement has ever been made.
Now of course I appreciate that we all want a well-trained SENCO, and I know that if Mini had special educational needs I’d possibly be feeling different. However for now, I have a little boy who is concerned that he’s being abandoned by us, concerned that he’s moving on, anxious about change and muddled when routine disappears. He might not have educational needs, but he still has issues that need addressing and supporting by his teachers.
If other children without these issues are unsettled (and I know they are), how on earth can Mini be expected to cope with it? I pointed out that Mini needs routine, stability, reassurance, and that he’s probably worrying that she doesn’t like him anymore, and she is also (in his eyes) abandoning him. A bit harsh maybe, but from what I can gather from Mini’s actions and reactions – the truth.
So where do we go from here?
Well, I’ve been reassured that Mini will be with at least a couple of his closer friends when he moves up to year 1. So I can work on reassuring him too.
I know that those 2 regular sessions without Miss U will continue, but with the same teachers each session, so I can reassure him as to whom those teachers are, and remind him that for the other half of the day, Miss U will be back.
Miss U will also work on reminding all the children when she isn’t going to be there, and reassuring them that she’s still in school.
Miss U will look at including Mini in some transition sessions with some other children who she thinks will struggle with moving up a year. And of course all children will take part in the moving up day too.
When class lists are announced and teaching assistants have been allocated to classes, we can work on establishing a link between Mini and an appropriate teaching assistant, to ensure that if teacher changes (like we’re currently experiencing) have to happen, at least he’ll have a constant known adult there.
And finally, Miss U will work on specifically reassuring Mini now she’s aware of the issues that can occur.
Am I happier?
The trouble I have is that I find Miss U a little…uninterested? condescending? patronising? I’m not really sure, but I feel uncomfortable talking to her at times. I find it really hard to present to her just how horrid things are for Mini and us. And her responses are almost always the same – uh huh, yes, I see, well we’re keen to provide support…. It’s hard for her I know, because they don’t see the child that I do, and she needs me to tell her what support we want, but in truth, I don’t know. In an ideal world, he’d have one teacher not four, but I can see that’s not a possibility.
So despite the action points we discussed, I’m still concerned that the next 5 weeks are going to be really tough for Mini. Although I understand why things are this way, it doesn’t make me any more comfortable about it. And until the class lists and teaching assistants are finalised, I can’t work with Mini on easing the transition for him.
The next step for me is discussing all this with the CAMHS therapist and our parent supporter. I’m also going to put these points in writing to the teacher, and copy the head teacher in too, just so there’s a trail if we should need it in the future. I’ve got a funny feeling we might. And a funny feeling that even those Mini’s moving out of her class, this won’t be my last meeting with Miss U, the SENCO…