5yr old keeps running away from school......very scared mum please help!!!

Leah - posted on 03/25/2015 ( 22 moms have responded )

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I am writing here because I am at a complete loss as to what to do about this situation. My 5 yr old son is in his 7th week of Kindergarten and he has run away from school 3 times!! I am so scared for his safety :( The school has implemented some pretty harsh consequences the first two times to try and make him see that this is not ok and nothing seems to be helping. The first time he did it he had to miss out on the school swimming carnival, the second time it happened he had an in school suspension which included no outside play.

This last time the police were driving past and saw him running in the road, he ran from the police and wouldn't answer their question, when talking to his teachers about what had happened he actually seemed quite proud of what he had done, boasting that he had got further this time.

His teachers and I and other family members and now the police have all explained to him about safety and the many things that go wrong when you leave the school grounds without permission.
I'm so scared that something dreadful is going to happen to him.

The school have said they will try and be extra vigilant about closing gates around the school, however the school can never be completely closed and it doesn't stop parents who enter and exit the school leaving those gates open. I have to find a way to make him understand that he can't do this anymore.

After this last time he and I have made a deal (we shook on it) that he mustn't leave the school grounds without permission and that if he does then he will have to collect his schoolwork everyday and then stay at home and do it where I can keep him safe.

my husband (who is currently away for 6 mths) suggested I try and scare him with the thought that if he doesn't stay safe at school then the police won't let him live with us anymore if we can't keep him safe. The problem I see with both these "consequences" is that they are a bluff really.

The things that set him off seem to differ every time. This last time it wasn't even something major, his teacher asked him to paste a picture in his scrapbook, he got upset that he hadn't finished the picture and that was it he wouldn't be reasoned with and he left.

His principal has said that education wise he is really very smart and quite with it. and for the most part he is doing very well and enjoying school. I don't know what to do please help me

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Sarah - posted on 03/27/2015

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Where do you live that the school is open to parents and visitors? The schools I work in are like fortresses, no one can get in without being buzzed in through the office. As far as a five year old running away, where the heck is the teacher? No matter what his reasons are for wanting to leave, he should not be able to get off school grounds. Period.

Michelle - posted on 03/26/2015

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I would also look into getting him some therapy. He needs to learn ways to control himself when things don't go his way.
like I said, it's not a normal reaction for a 5yo. Most 5yo's are scared to leave somewhere they know they are safe. They wouldn't be running out of the school grounds to the road. They would throw a tantrum or cry but not fun away.
Yes, the rewards chart could work but everyone needs to work with him to give him other ways of reacting. That's the problem.

Leah - posted on 03/25/2015

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I will try, I'm not being very successful at not losing it this morning, I am terrified to leave him at school today.

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Sarah - posted on 03/28/2015

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I mean if the child went off again on his own and was harmed in some way, who would be accountable? It's a peculiar situation, and I admit I have never encountered it personally. Our teachers in kindergarten get a classroom aide once they have 25 students. You are absolutely right, what is the teacher to do? Run after the one and leave 24 five yo behind or stay with her class?

Jodi - posted on 03/28/2015

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And I would be reluctant to take that child on an excursion without the parent present.

Jodi - posted on 03/28/2015

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No option for an aide here unless there is a diagnosed learning or other disability or unless the parent pays for it.

Sarah - posted on 03/28/2015

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I agree with the scenario you describe, but this child is five. The options the school has (and I don't know if this is a US public school or not) is to provide an aide to watch the child.
The security in most public schools, in urban and suburban areas has increased dramatically over the last years in response to the horrific school shootings. However, it is definitely focused on keeping unwanted people out of the building, not necessarily keeping people in the building. The classrooms would not be locked unless there was actually a threat to the students.
If something were to happen to this child on one of his excursions, who would be responsible? The parents, the five year old or the school?

Jodi - posted on 03/27/2015

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In Australia, schools aren't locked up in the same way you describe. If I chose, I could walk into my kids' classes or on to the playground, but there is a policy that I sign in at front office first. There are no fences around the entire playground in a lot of schools, and those that are fenced have areas that are not fully fenced or gated. As an example, our school only has the main school building are fenced, but this is opened up during school hours and the tennis courts, oval and playground area are not fully fenced. My daughter's school only JUST put a fence in recently, but the back of the playground does not have a full security fence, just a basic wire fence.

If a child just takes off from a classroom, you can't actually stop them. It is against the law to lock the classroom so a child can't get out. Why? Safety. If we lock classrooms from the inside, there is no way to get out in an emergency. So they are not locked from the inside. A child could walk out at any time. Or run. At a very fast pace. What exactly is the teacher expected to do other than notify someone that the child has run off? The teacher can't abandon the rest of the children and follow this child - there is a duty of care issue to the other 20+ children.

Saying the school is responsible is like telling a high school that it is their responsibility if a 14 year old decides to take off from school and go to the shops, even though they know they aren't permitted to. We can't exactly stop them if they've made their mind up to do it. All we can do is contact the parents and let them know and also let more senior staff in the school know so they can follow up..

I am wondering if the child is actually ready for school at all. It may also be worth having him assessed. It isn't normal for a child to just take off from school like this.

Sarah - posted on 03/27/2015

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I see your point Shawwn, and I suppose it could be an international setting as well. That said, I still feel like the responsibility falls on the school to keep that kid at school. Especially if they know he is a "runner".

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 03/27/2015

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Smaller areas and rural areas in the US are still a bit lackadaisical on security, Sarah, mainly because 'everybody knows everybody'. But I live in a city of 35,000, and the only access to our school buildings here is through the main doors, and you have to check in at the office. Playgrounds are open, usually fenced, but not gated. Monitors are expected to insure compliance for entering the grounds.

Leah - posted on 03/25/2015

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Well I've spoken with the principal and I've been told that he doesn't fit the criteria for a teachers aid that he would have to be diagnosed with a learning disability (which she doesn't feel he fit's the criteria for) and even with children who are assessed as being high on the spectrum only getting funding for a couple of hours of extra teaching staff per day.

I'm going to implement a rewards system. A book of his choosing (he loves to read) which will be taped to the kitchen cupboard door with 5 boxes underneath, he will need 5 safe days at school to earn the book.

The principal and teachers agree that a positive reinforcement and rewards system might work with him where consequences don't seem to be,

Leah - posted on 03/25/2015

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When the police asked him that question he told them sometimes i just don't want to be at school anymore.

There have been triggers, the first time it happened, he had been hit and kicked by another child.

There was another occasion where he was contained but threatened to leave when he was asked to hold hands with another student and refused, when pushed the situation escalated. turns out that child he was asked to hold hands with is someone "who doesn't make good choices" is what my boy told me so he didn't want to hold hands with him.

The second time he ran he was asked to put some sticks down in the playground that he was playing with (he wasn't being violent) because the school policy is no playing with sticks when he refused the teacher took the sticks, he got upset and ran.

This last time was hardly a trigger at all, he was asked to paste a picture in his scrapbook and he was upset because he wanted to finish the picture first.

He doesn't handle situations well sometimes but honestly for the most part he is great. I don't know why sometimes he doesn't manage....maybe because he's 5.

we had two weeks there with no incident at all. Everyday was perfect.

If someone has a suggestion for getting through to him about the safety risks please tell me but until I do manage that I have to know he is safe at school.

Michelle - posted on 03/25/2015

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Have you asked him why he is running away?
It's all good saying the school needs to have a aid with him but where I live, unless the child is diagnosed with a learning diffculty/ADHD or something then they don't get the funding for an aid.
You also need to understand that the school has to look after hundreds of children, not just your child. I know you drop him off and expect him to be safe but there has to be a reason why he is running away. Most children don't act that way.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 03/25/2015

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Hang in there. I've found that it helps me if I write out a little script of what I want to say, in which order, to keep myself on track and level headed.

Leah - posted on 03/25/2015

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It's not really an option, I wish I could, I have two other young boys 3 and 2 and no one I can leave them with.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 03/25/2015

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Could you spend some time observing in the classroom?

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 03/25/2015

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Just remember: Keep calm, and cool. Level head will get you better results than frustrated mom will (believe me!). If you feel you are not getting heard, then go further up the chain. It may be a bit of a process, but you can do it!

I know, because I spent years doing this for different things when my kids were at elementary level, and then I became an aide, so been on both sides.

Leah - posted on 03/25/2015

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Ok I will definitely look into that option, thank you. An extra teacher in his class would also mean that if he did run they could at least follow him.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 03/25/2015

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Then take it up the ladder to the district personnel. There's no way that adults in a teaching profession don't know what to do about this.

They may not want to add an aide, but that may be the best solution. Keep pushing up the chain. If they cannot keep your child safe at school, that's an issue...for more than just your child!

Leah - posted on 03/25/2015

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Keeping him inside at break times is an option they call it recovery and it was implemented as a consequence. This last time he ran it was straight out of his classroom at 2:10 in the afternoon. The school says they don't know what to do about it.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 03/25/2015

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Bottom line: The school needs to step up, and stop giving excuses. Either keep your kid indoors for his recreation time, and assign an aide to him for that, or assign a classroom aide to him that will follow and monitor only him during recess.

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