My Biggest Mistake – Trusting The South African School System

I have been meaning to write this for quite some time, I just did not quite know exactly where to start (or how). I suppose I did not want this to be a blog post of me moaning without any end about all the negative things we experienced this year at my daughter’s (now previous) school. I was waiting for something positive to happen, but it never did. It got worse. What eventually prompted me to write this is that countless moms across the country started messaging me, having the same problems… feeling alone and not sure what the solution is. 

I have always been very transparent and honest, so I am going to tell you our story, in the hope that we can find a solution together. Not only for the sake of my family, but for the countless other families that are too worried to speak up, or who don’t know how.

My daughter attended a prominent public school on the West Coast last year for Grade 1. As far as public schools go, it is considered one of the best. We were all so very excited, she is an academically strong child through and through – the thought of school made her happier than you can imagine. I would never forget her first day. How she put her uniform on with pride, helped me pack her lunchbox and the hopes and dreams she had for her first year at “big” school. She was a little scared, a little nervous… but she was determined. She made friends within the first 5 minutes of arriving, which is not unusual for her. Mikayla has a very kind soul, you cannot help but be drawn to her.

The first week or so was filled with excitement as they navigated the school grounds and made new friends. At the end of the 1st term, as I was fetching Mikayla from school, her teacher called me over and started frantically explaining to me that my daughter needs an OT as soon as possible. That she is not as good as the other kids, because her handwriting is messy and she doesn’t draw like everyone else. Her colouring was messy, she was disruptive in class and she moans too much, she talks too much. The word “ritalin” was thrown in for good measure, as she was 100% sure that Mikayla had ADHD. She did all of this in front of Mikayla and a few of her class friends. Mikayla burst into tears because all she took away from the conversation was that something was wrong with her.

That she was not like everyone else, and that in itself was seen as a flaw.

Now, no parent likes to listen to criticism about their child. It immediately makes you defensive. I asked for a proper meeting so we can go through Mikayla’s work, in a more suitable setting as I did not appreciate the way she was handling this. 

We had our meeting and she showed me the kids’ workbooks. She compared Mikayla’s work to the top 5 in the class, and yes – her handwriting was a MESS. That being said, all of her answers were correct, she was reading on an advanced level to the rest of the class and showed a particular interest in math. Something was not making sense… Mikayla’s handwriting at school was not matching up with her handwriting at home. 

I sat Mikayla down to have a chat. She explained to me that she found the work too easy and boring, and all she wanted to do was go out and play. She also said that she struggled to concentrate in class because the kids were so noisy, and her teacher would not make them quiet because she was playing games on her phone. She did not like the fact that everyone had to draw the exact same picture, or that everyone had to colour in the same colours. In her own words… “That is not how art works”. She also said the other kids were teasing her for being stupid, because they heard what the teacher said about her work.

My solution was to help Mikayla practise her handwriting at home, to help her deal with the other kids emotionally and show her some breathing techniques for when the noise in the class gets overwhelming. I suspected that she was struggling with some sensory overload, it happens to me often. I got her some trace & wipe boards from Nectar & Ink to help her practise (they are awesome by the way) and tried to guide her as much as possible. 

R120 Nectar & Ink
R150 – Nectar & Ink

I then started getting almost daily WhatsApp messages from the teacher, sending me photo’s of Mikayla’s “bad” and “messy” work and asking me to take her to an OT or have her put on Ritalin because “she does not know how to handle her”. I am not disagreeing that Mikayla’s handwriting is messy, but I did notice that the work was extremely repetitive and… well, boring. 

The amount of homework these kids were getting shocked me. We would get home from school and spend about and hour to two hours doing homework. It was exhausting and frustrating. Mikayla would be too tired after to go play outside and she started resenting school. I eventually stopped making her do all her homework, it was absolutely ridiculous and she is just a little child. 

Kids should be allowed to be kids, and if they cannot do what they need to during class time – the teacher needs to work on their time management skills. That amount of homework for Grade 1 is excessive.

So, I suppose at this point you are wondering why I did not just send Mikayla to an OT? While I truly believe that OT’s have a place in this world, I am also sceptical. I ran a poll on my Facebook page during the second term and 78% of mothers voted that they were told by a class teacher to have their child assessed by an OT due bad handwriting or behavioural issues. 85% voted that a class teacher recommended their child be put on Ritalin.

Let me just repeat this so it can sink in… 85% of almost 9000 moms where told by a school or teacher to medicate their kids for ADHD. Please explain to me how that is not absolutely alarming??

I honestly did not believe that the issues my daughter was experiencing could be solved by an OT, so I did some research. 

At this point Mikayla was complaining about going to school, struggling to get up in the morning and was being extremely emotional. She cried every day after school, and her appetite was suppressed, she no longer wanted to play and did not show an interest in her usual hobbies. She complained about stomach pains and headaches in the morning and exclaimed that she hated school. Of course, I recognised these symptoms… I am these symptoms. My little 7-year old girl was showing signs of depression and anxiety. If you had ever met or seen my daughter, you would know that this behaviour is incredibly unusual for her – she is a ray of sunshine. 

We decided to take her to an educational psychologist and have her assessed across the board. Educational psychologists study children of all ages and how they learn. While investigating how children process emotional, social and cognitive stimuli, they make assessments based on the child’s reactions to stimuli. They use this analysis to identify learning, social and behavioral issues that impede children’s learning.

Honestly, it was the best thing I ever could have done. Mikayla was indeed showing signs of depression due to feeling inadequate at school. She was struggling to focus in a class with a lot of kids due to overstimulation and did not feel like she was fitting in with her peers. The school work bored her, and her teacher kept dismissing her which made her feel unworthy. There was a simple reason for all of this… Mikayla’s IQ was sitting at 129 as opposed to the average for her age of 110. She was processing information faster, getting bored and was not being stimulated enough. 

Over R6000 later and countless assesments, I made an appointment with the teacher. Her response? It is not her job to entertain my child. She has too many kids in her classroom to give Mikayla individual attention. In short, she was not willing to do anything to help Mikayla progress in the way she needed to. I received the same sentiments from the school principle at the time and once again it was suggested that I put Mikayla on Ritalin to slow her down.

The issue is, you do not need to have a child with an above average IQ to experience issues in the classroom. They have dummed the curriculum down to such a degree that I don’t see how any child could actually enjoy it, or be intelectually challenged/stimulated. 

I know not all teachers are like this, I truly do… but in the South African school system – most are. I shared some of my frustrations on InstaStories and the response was overwhelming. We are not a unique situation, not even close. With Mikayla’s IQ, we knew she would thrive in a mainstream school environment… if she found a teacher that was willing to nurture her abilities. The likeliness of that happening was slim, so I had her put on a waiting list of a local private Montessori school that was willing to work with Mikayla at her pace. 

Unfortunately, that meant that Mikayla would need to stick it out at her current school until a space opened up for her. It also meant that we needed to find an extra R3000 a month for her school fees. That is a lot of money, and we have had to reprioritise our lives drastically.

At least we understood what she was going through, and we were better equipped to help her – even without the school’s support. The next blow came during the third term. And this is the one that sent me over the edge.

Let me me make it clear, this did not just start out of the blue, it was happening the whole year – it just got more violent. I picked Mikayla up from school, she looked at me and burst into tears. Something was very, very wrong….

I sat her down, tried to calm her so that she could tell me what happened. When your child cries like that, your mind goes to the worst places.

Eventually she managed to tell me that a group of 5 boys grabbed her and her two friends and beat them. Mikayla was thrown on the floor, kicked repeatedly in the chest and stomach while her friends tried to get the boys off her. The one girl got her face smashed into the fence, while the other got kicked in the back. She showed me the marks on her body. I went to go find her friend and the stories matched up… In that moment, I could have murdered someone. I was shaking, I was so unbelievably angry.

I tried to find the principle, but was unsuccesful. I called the other two girls’ moms and they felt the same. We took it up with the school… the response?

“They were just playing.”

“They are just boys.”

“You know how boys are.”

“We spoke to them”

I asked where the teachers were, why weren’t the kids being supervised?

“They can’t possibly see everything that happens on the school grounds.”

The event was violent enough that it attracted the attention of the grade 2 classes, yet – no teacher noticed. They have a no tolerance againast bullying in the school rules, yet it does not specify what would happen to bullies – and according to them, they cannot actually do anything about it.

They promised me that they would increase school ground supervision and that they would listen to the kids should they come report incidents.

Things were a bit better after a while, and then towards the end of the 4th term my daughter was pushed to the ground by two boys and her dress pulled up. Just writing this makes me so angry that I am struggling to type.

This time my husband got involved and spoke to the principle… once again. “So sorry… what do you want us to do?”. Same old bullshit.

This particular school has a massive bullying problem and they are not willing to address it. Needless to say we immediately removed Mikayla and she did not finish the last few weeks of the 4th term. We will never set foot on those school grounds again, but I do feel they should be held accountable.

Every single time I see someone recommending this horrid place on Facebook, I die a little inside.

I realise that this post is a little all over the place… and that I am highlighting more than one issue – but I do feel that both issues are bred from a lack of care within the South African school system. A lack of passion for the institution, a lack of love for children and absolute laziness from the teachers.

It is not okay that kids are being medicated in order for teachers to be able to “handle them”. It is not okay that our kids are feeling like being different is wrong. It is not okay that they are not being guided, nurtured and loved. It is not okay that we are trusting that they are being kept safe at a place of education… only for them to be more unsafe there than anywhere else. I do not need to tell you the effects bullying can have on a child.

I will show you the scars on my wrists if you really don’t get it.

A teacher can make or break a child. Some teachers have absolutely no business being in this profession, and the schoolsthat allow them to practise their profession the way they do have no business working with children.

My biggest mistake of 2018 was placing Mikayla in a school that did not feel quite right from the beginning.

So… what would you do if you were me? Do you have a similar story? I really would love to hear from you.

Today Mikayla started at a private Montessori. She is so excited, and so am I! And I feel at peace knowing that the teachers truly love their jobs and that my baby would be looked after. My son has been there for a year and he is absolutely thriving.

But what about the mothers that cannot afford to move their kids… What about the people who have limited options? What about the kids that are too afraid to speak up….


87 thoughts on “My Biggest Mistake – Trusting The South African School System

  1. Zeenat Carrim says:

    Thats terrible… My daughter has started grd R in a primary school this year. The remedial teacher has stressed that they will assess kids first etc communication will be kept confidential etc. That teacher seriously had no common sense

    • Maz says:

      To be honest, I have become so numb to schools and their promises… the only reason I know that she will be okay where she is now, is because my son has been there for a year already and I have come to know and love the teachers. I honestly hope the school your little one is in does right by her, and that she thrives and loves her education!

      • Lara says:

        My son has ADHD he repeated gr R. And now end of third term still cannot wright and read. He was assessed and tested and and. He struggles in his class as the class is so big. And he already has a very poor selfesteem which makes him act out towards kids that tease him. He is easily influenced and impulsive. I wish i could place him in a private school as i know he deserves the treatment and help. Aswell as being excepted for his short comings. I feel very depressed by how he is treated and the way the school ignores the fact that he is different and needs to be treated and helps as such.
        Dont know what to do.
        Why cant schools have atleast a seperate class for gr1s in his position to help them get a proper foundation.

        Hopeless but good mommy trying to figure this out.

    • Amy says:

      My daughter has Dyspraxia and severe ADD. The neurologist said that she will cope with a mainstream curriculum, but in a smaller class.
      We had her in a remedial school that was FANTASTIC , but unaffordable, so we had to move her. Mainstream is not an option due to class size, and private schools don’t want her as they’re concerned that she will mess up their pass rate (their exact words 😡) she is now in a school that is autism friendly, as they have less children in the class. This is her 4th school, and she is in grade 4 (she repeated grade 2). We are now considering homeschooling, due to sexually inappropriate comments being made by a classmate (they are 10/11 years old)

  2. Zeenat Carrim says:

    Its also sick how society has the mentality that boys will be boys… No that behavior is not normal.To be honest this is my exact fear for my daughter and would like for her to do self defense classes

  3. Gillian says:

    Argh this post has made me sick to my stomach and heart broken to hear what your little on has been through in her first year of ‘big’ school. It was not fair ☺️.
    I glad she is starring a new school and really hope everything goes well for her 💜💜

  4. Monique says:

    Nothing mentioned above is okay! The fact that the school just brushes it off and does not take it seriously is horrifying! And with regards to the school system your daughter was 100% correct. No kid should be forced to do anything exactly like someone else. This is probably my biggest problem with the system – they make our kids little robots – stand straight, walk in a line, write like this, study like that and if you dare stand out in any way there‘s something wrong with you and then its ALWAYS HDHD 😡😡😡 This is the main reason why I am so fond of the Montessori system. So happy you moved your daughter and I hope and pray she has the best year ever!

    • Maz says:

      I agree… If you don’t fit into their neat little box, something is “wrong” with you. And in a generation where we raise our kids to stand out – it just is not working! Thank you Monique.

  5. Nix says:

    Wow I had those same comments spewed at me by a school a good few years ago. I eventually took my children out and am homeschooling them. Contrary to my initial thoughts on homeschooling we are all much less stressed and happier all round! I only wish I had started off this way.

    • Maz says:

      Well done! I don’t think I have the patience for homeschooling! But if this school does not work out (I am sure it will) that is the next step for me too.

  6. Noreen Miller says:

    Maz we experienced a similar situation with my youngest daughter when she was in grade R and grade 1. First in grade R when her teacher couldn’t fault her academic progress but recommended we hold her back as she had a gut feeling Mika wouldn’t cope socially going to grade 1. We decided against retention. Then in grade 1 she was once again thriving academically but the teacher found she couldn’t concentrate and recommended we have her assessed by an educational psychologist. So we took her to Anel our own educational psychologists. Turned out Mika’s IQ was also higher that the recommended IQ for that grade and that my child was in fact bored with the work. Anel made recommendations to the teacher on how to deal with Mika in the classroom by giving her more challenging work. Grade 2 and 3 my child thrived with no problems. This year she is in Grade 4 and yes she is young as her birthday is only in December but she is doing well. Each child learn differently and at their own pace but that doesn’t mean a child has ADHD.

    • Maz says:

      Oh my word… please explain to me what child is able to concentrate properly at such a young age?? And I completely agree with you – and look what a difference it can make if a teacher is willing to come to the party and help out with their “special needs”. I am really glad she is doing so well now. Thank you so much for your comment.

  7. Carrie Groves says:

    I am so very sorry your daughter had that experience. But thank you so much for sharing your story as it confirms what I believe about the national school system here. I am a single mom on a minuscule salary but I have put my daughter in a very particular private school for so many reasons including the things you have stated here. I am struggling a lot financially and my family is urging me to send her to government school. I just can’t bring myself to do that to my child though. I will eat jam sandwiches til the cows come home if it means a happy, safe, quality education for for my magical child. I wish you and your daughter all the best for the future.

    • Maz says:

      Hi Carrie. It is amazing that you have put your child’s needs ahead like that. Unforntunately there are some pretty rotten private schools as well, just as there are some excellent public schools. I think it all boils down to the way the school is run/managed and the kind of teachers they employ.

  8. Shelley says:

    Trust your gut. We had an incident when our son was in his last year of nursery school last year. The teacher also tried to organise an OT for him as she suspected signs of ADHD (he was 4 at the time). After us calling a meeting with the principal as something didn’t sit right it turned out the teacher was out of her depth as had come from a small farm school and it was too many kids for her to cope with so every single child that didn’t conform got a letter recommending an OT.
    We chose to take the experience as a lesson and he has started in a private school (today) where we know he will genuinely be cared for (although we will always still check in).
    I am sorry your experience got to the level it did and thank goodness for change going forward – all the best!

    • Maz says:

      How in the world do you see signs of ADHD in a 4-year old, seriously.
      Can you imagine the stress for parents who cannot afford an OT?
      I am glad you trusted your gut, well done mamma. Good lucj for the new year of school!

    • Eunice Foentjies says:

      Omw. …….where do I begin🙈my son now 23years of age was diagnosed with ADHD when he was only 3 and a half at Red Cross Hospital😣was advised at the time to start him on a low doze of Ritalin, which I then refused…….long story short, he was again prescribed Ritalin at the age of 6 yrs after starting Gr1, I then decided to try it,,,,after 3 days my adventurous and loving son became very emotional😢I then made up my mind nobody, but nobody is going to change my precious gift. I had informed the school that I was not going to let him continue on the medication, which they were not happy, but referred me to what was called The Parent Centre who have therapists who works with the parents to understand their child with ADHD. It was a great help to me as the mum, but my innocent child did not have it rosy at school. He had a therapist at school working with him as well. There were days I was so afraid to collect him from school, as I did not know what to expect 🙈🙉🙊The year he started Gr2 my husband had a job offer in Ireland😊We then relocated to Ireland, brought over all the paperwork of all his assessments, blah,blah,blah..After telling the new Head mistress and Class teacher of the findings in South Africa, they have” Passed no remark”(Irish saying for dismissing something said or done)My son completed national school with happiness, went onto secondary school and then onto University of Wales😊with NO Ritalin 😊only by Grace. He graduated 2018 with A Bachelor of Science in Sports Studies. I do not deny that he has ADHD and is dyslexic, but over the years learned to cope with it. He is my rugby player, Gaelic football player and forever in the gym😊Mommies please do not give your precious child a pill to pop to please teachers. Find what their interests are, then encourage them in it. Give your full attention to your bundle of joy, no matter the age.❤❤

  9. Tamarah says:

    I actually cried as I angry-read this to my husband. He started spitting expletives at the first mention of the teacher. I’m so sorry, Maz. So sorry. No child deserves any of that. And it just increases my anxiety around sending our kids to school. And for us, we don’t feel most public schools are even a remote option…

    • Maz says:

      It is so very sad. And it is even worse for those few teachers that do go the extra mile, who love their jobs and try create a healthy and wonderful school enviroment. Knox’s teacher is strict, but she is absolutely INCREDIBLE. She loves those kids so much and she is a mother of twins herself. She always teached with love and kindness.
      Anyway, Mikayla’s first day went very well!

  10. chastin dreyer says:

    I think I know which school you are referring to and if I am right almost every child I know that attends that school has at one point or another been told they need to be on ritalin- my cousin actually teaches there if this is the correct place and her own child was put into the same box she changed teachers and it is going much better but still- in mainstream we had countless issues we also went to an educational psychologist my older son also has a very high IQ was bored and frustrated his handwriting was so bad- it got to the point where my child was on so many meds and they just wanted him on more (not that I am saying the meds don’t have a place when the child is correctly diagnosed and the dosage is properly monitored), he was angry all the time didn’t want to go to school was bullied to the point that he became a bully – the school wouldn’t act when it happened to him but oh boy when he turned the tables because he was already labeled difficult… I was called every day to collect him every single day was hell I used to sit at my office desk with bated breath just waiting, we went into debt seeing specialists and eventually we couldn’t take it anymore- my son turned to me and asked me what was wrong with him and said he was sorry for being so bad we were done- we kept my second son in that school for another year until they started with the same story and before we ended up down the same road we removed him as well- both my sons after assessment fall on the spectrum and unfortunately mainstream is just not equipped to handle kids who do not conform or fit within the box- the teachers are over laden and under paid, the curriculum is too content heavy and the teachers and children cannot keep up- the teachers are forced to focus on the thriving children and any child struggling or who doesn’t just move along gets left behind or pushed out- there are many great teachers but they are few and far between in so many cases and although I know that adhd and such are very real they are too easily suggested or diagnosed which means that the issue is not properly addressed for those who do not have it and for those who it just becomes another excuse when it is actually a genuine issue. I have heard so many horror stories with friends whose children as young as 7 are depressed or so anxious they need to be medicated I know of more than one primary school child who has attempted suicide it is just insane, the schooling system is failing and the government just plods on and drops the pass rate instead of fixing the curriculum building more schools and building an encouraging and supportive environment.

    • Maz says:

      I think you know exactly which school it is. I am so sorry Chastin, I cannot imagone how difficult that must have been on you, but also on your kids.
      I completely agree with every single point you have made! It is truly sad. Thank you so much for telling your story.

  11. Karen says:

    So sorry you had to go through this. No teacher has the qualifications to throw around terms like Autism, ADHD, Ritalin etc. Very unprofessional even if she was thinking along those lines. Hope 2019 is really good to you all.

  12. louise bronn says:

    I am shaking just by reading this. This is so unacceptable from the school. The just medicate them mentality has me fuming! Not every child needs Ritalin. Then the boys will be boys attitude make furious I have a son if I ever find out he would kick ANYONE let alone a girl… I have no words. Good on you for making sure your daughter gets what’s best for her. 2019 Will be so much better.

    • Maz says:

      What worries me is how common it is for teachers to suggest medicating kids. And don’t even get me started on the boys will be boys thing…

      Thank you Louise!

  13. Shaun says:

    Why not name and shame the school? That’s the only thing that would have any effect and be of any benefit to anyone else.

      • Michelle says:

        I’m out on the west coast, so potentially could be sending my child to this school. I had a chat to my son’s principal this morning, (although still in preschool) about applications for Grade R etc, and she told me of one particular school that she would advise me against. They’ve had a change in principal and things are not looking great. I hope this is the same school as the pickings are already slim as it is.

        • Maz says:

          It is so difficult, there are very few schools out there, but there truly are some amazing ones as well. I can’t name and shame the school, but I can tell you that there was a lot of drama regarding principles.

  14. tami says:

    This is almost exactly what happened to Z1. And he was at a school for kids with ADD and ADHD. You would think they would be more compassionate. But, he too was blamed for being the victim while the bullies go away with murder. He too was forced to go onto Ritalin because he “played with his pencils in class”. This is from a teacher who was trained to teach kids with “learning disabilities”, but she “couldn’t encourage him to participate in class”. Because he was so worried about what would happen to him when he eventually got out onto the playground. Not that that happened much. More often than not, he was kept inside so that he could finish the work he didn’t finish in class. After 5 years of that bullshit, I had enough and chose to home school.

  15. Jacqueline Carlo-Krams says:

    Hi Mariza ( I love the name as my eldest son’s God-mother is called Mariza).

    Your post has brought tears to my eyes and I feel for you. I have read the comments of the other moms and I share your sentiments.

    I have 2 boys (27 and 8) …. yes! 19 year gap between them. One just happened and the other one we waited for 7 years after beingbtold that I would never have any children. Non the less, my youngest was wrongly disgnosed with ADHD! At a nursery school in Kuilsrivier, the teacher refused to feed my son breakfast for 6 weeks. When I confronted the teacher, she shebitvwas not her duty to feed my child as he has special dietary requirements! When I became dramatic and confronted the principal, she turned around and said she did me a favour for 2 years, so why should she. My husband threatedvthe principle and she called in her lawyer. I was told to remove my child. The courts and social welfare did not habe any sympathy for my “issues”. His behsbiour became erratic in this 6 weeks and his pedestrian referred him to a psychologist. After 6 sessions at R300 an hour, I stopped going to them. By this time I had place my son into another nursery school and the principle recommended that he see an OT for a 2nd opinion. After several sessions, she said that she can’t say if he has ADHD, but he dies have low muscle tone. He’s over active and a busy boy. Gave him several exercises which we had to do at home. All through this time my husband kept saying there’s nothing wrong with our son. His class teacher said there were no signs of ADHD.

    During that year, my husband lost his job and we were not able to afford the fees and the principle and owner of the school became uglyband nasty whichbresulted in my son being treated differently.

    I removed him, and placed him at a play centre/Montessori school. The Principle, trained as an OT said that Ibshould give her 2 weeks, she would do all the necessary assessments on my son.

    Two weeks later, she sat my hubby and I down and said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with our son. He does not have ADHD. He is a normal, highly active and extremely intelligent child who needs to be stimulated and kept busy.

    Were we relieved!

    We have since left SA and currently residing in the UK (husband’s work takes us places! ☺) oOur son is currently in Year 3 and is in the top Maths and English groups. He plays the violin, cricket, swims, loves lego and chess. He is a blessing and a joy…. without Ritalin!

    Maz…. If I may ask, would you share this page from your blog on a group I am current only…. Teachers 4 Real Change, South Africa on FaceBook.

    You, as well as all the moms who have posted on your blog are most welcome to join this page and share your sentiments on the current education system of SA.

    Kind regards


    • Maz says:

      Thank you, I have never met anyone whose name is spelled the same as mine. I am so sorry to hear about your ordeal as well – it must have been so stressful. How did you manage to not let it have an affect on your son? Prevented him from feeling negatively towards school / education?
      Is he still in a Montessori school in the UK? I will share the post on the group ♥

      • Jacqueline Carlo-Krams says:

        Hi Mariza…. Jethro has coped tremendously in school. Doing exceptionally well at school. He’s in the top Maths and English groups. Socialises well with his peers and enjoys any challenge.

        It is a 4 star rated Community School m run by the locsl council. I really am happy thatbhe has settled in so well.

        I wish you and your family many happy and joyful years and bountiful blessings.


  16. Tee says:


    Had a similar situation

    On the first day of grace one the teacher called me aside to say my son is just all over the place and talks to much.

    Throughout the term she kept telling me he was going to struggle in the next grade.

    She said she is tired, and at wits end because she can’t cope with him.

    He gets sent to the office for everything to a point where he didn’t even care anymore.

    By the fourth term I also got the “you need to test him for ADHD and put him on some sort of medication to help him calm down “
    She even said I’m not saying that he has ADHD but if it is a problem he can’t control then it’s best to get help.

    All along this I felt that something was off as I know my child and also no one wants to hear negative things about your baby. Also he has amazing academic results and it doesn’t add up for a child that has a “problem”

    I had him tested and it came back negative.

    His pediatrician even recommended not using medication as it alters their personality.

    By the end of the year my boy was not liking school speaking negative about doing work and just all round bad attitude towards learning

    I was so angry at that teacher and myself for allowing him to be so demotivated .

    I dedicated the holidays to allowing him to be a kid to forget about all that and just connect and motivate him.

    But the scars were there he grade the night before school 2019

    We prayed and prayed for a better teacher

    And looks like our prayers were answered.

    But that year is something we can’t get back and the memories and messages are imprinted.

    All I can do is move forward and continue to fill his bucket of self asteem

    It made me frustrated because

  17. Zoe Hawkins says:

    My heart broke reading this!! Education was the main reason we left SA – I wanted to know that the schools would be good for Harley, and that she’d have opportunities to study what she wanted and be a unique little person. I’m so sorry you went through this, and so glad that you followed your instincts and made the change. So glad she’s in a Montessori school now – worth every penny!

  18. Andrea Thomas says:

    I teared up reading this article! For a few good points…. one this sounds exactly like my 7 year old current grade 2 daughter! My child is “a under the table; upside down child who seems to be very distracted but is in fact paying attention and listening to everything you say”! Last year with the very first parent meeting I told my daughters grade 1 teacher what kind of a learner she is! Her response “oh yes the previous Grade R teacher said you are very involved parents and want to be kept up to date with the class happenings”! Within the first month the teacher called me in to show me my daughters colouring compared to the rest of the 20 girls! While my daughters work was done; it was not as neatly done as the rest! Her handwriting is messy! She is bloody left handed (since about 4 months of age)! She is confident; well spoken; smart; amazingly athletic; a natural at anything she tries! Her teacher said “can we take her tonhe put on Ritalin”! I blew my head…. this is my profession! Education; SPECIAL NEEDS; behaviour!!!! I know who needs mediation and I have no issue with those who need it! BUT….. other interventions first! Mediation is a last resort! This teacher was against OT (my daughter is sensory sensitive); an assessment by a clinical psychologist; our Paediatrician! This was the route I followed! None of the professionals agreed with her! We did not agree with her! Turns out…. like your daughter our daughter tested way above her age group! She is smart! Very smart! I am thankful this teacher was only kind to my daughter as she only speaks well of her teacher last year and was sad to move on! Me…. I am only too happy we have moved on! Same school still! This school I feel has the balance and challenge my girls need! I do often feel my daughter would benefit from a Montessori school but PE is limited as my daughter needs sport; academics and music which her current school offers! Its her 4th year there and she loves it! But a teacher truly can “make or break” a child! My daughter also suffered from some anxiety last year! I sent interventions to class with the teachers knowledge to help her deal/cope….. a weighted sock for her lap; some thera-putti to squeeze; heavy chews (biltong; popcorn); elastic band around the chair legs. And when I asked the teacher about these and whether they are helping her response was “well she doesn’t go to the toilet often” so yes…. it is working dear teacher!
    My daughter loves reading; loves learning and more than anything loves making cartwheels!
    Good luck for 2019! May it be filled with positivity and happiness!

  19. Lameez says:

    I am so sorry, Maz. You really can’t go wrong with Montessori. It is a beautiful, ingenious philosophy. Good luck to your little girl at her new school!

  20. Elize says:

    Thank you so much for your post Maz! (I want to write so much, but will keep it short)
    So grateful that both kids are thriving now! Despite the heartache you all had to endure.
    I personally struggled in the mainstream system….. And we are very thankful that our Rainbow got a place in a private Montessori school and starting on Tuesday!

    Love your posts*

    All the best

  21. Bronwyn Marcus says:

    Hi. Maz. Thank you for sharing your story. I have 3 boys. Now 18.16 and 12. My 18 year old has auditory processing disorder. My 16 year old is aspergers. There was nowhere suitable for them. I home schooled them throughout. No I didn’t have all the answers and I lacked patience but I knew I loved those boys more than an outsider would and I knew what was best for them even though it was the hard choice. Homeschooling was the best choice I ever made. I am saddened to see your story countless times among friends. Moms who work. Homeschooling is not an option for everyone. Moms who are not as brave or vocal as you or I. Moms are desperate and the system is failing.

    • Maz says:

      Thank you so much Bronwyn. It is really a terrifying thought. TBH, the lack of schooling for children with actual AHDH, Apergers, or who are on the spectrum shocked me… There is just nowhere to turn. We did our research while waiting on Mikayla’s results just in case – and my heart bled for those moms. The lack of options is shocking. Well done for putting your kids first, you are doing a great job!

  22. Tommy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. That is why at this stage we are homeschooling. Our son was 6 and because of his interest in maths he is 3 grades ahead. We teach what is required by Dept of Edu… (as it is policy that homeschool kids must comply with CAPS). my son is way ahead purely because of good attention received. identifying the areas he has an interest and feeding him the much needed info. not being tired or frustrated or bored. Countless friends of ours have same experience as you. First thing is ritalin. Why… because the teacher cant handle it.

  23. Karen says:

    Just to give my 2c worth. My son has been on Concerta (Ritalin) from the end of Grade R. But before we decided to medicate, we went through a whole bunch of test, psychologists, educational psychologist, play therapist, OT for 2 years. It is never an easy decision to put your child on any kind of medication. But it is really helping my son. I know it is not your intention, but please don’t give ADHD meds a bad rap. It does wonders when it is needed. But no teacher is qualified to diagnose ADHD.

    • Maz says:

      Please show me exactly where I gave it a bad rep?
      I have a husband with ADHD, I have never once said medication is bad for children with ADHD or learning disabilities. Please read the post properly, I don’t appreciate this comment at all.

  24. Kim says:

    Reading this and I have tears , in so sad for what u and your little girl have gone through . I am also a mom and all I can say is that we need to trust our gut at all times. I get so angry about meds this ADD that , I have also heard it at my children’s school , there is a Netflix documentary about those meds which would send me running ! I wish u and your beautiful girl a super amazing year at her new school !

  25. T says:

    This post has made me so incredibly angry! I had to read it in stages, and talk it through with my MIL, who was a high school teacher turned learning center principal. It is absolutely disgusting what has happened to your daughter and it is even worse knowing that this isn’t an isolated experience. I fear for my son and his future experiences in school, and I pray that when his time comes we will be able to put him in a good school.
    Teachers should be assessed BEFORE going into the profession!

    • Maz says:

      It is particularly sad because there are so many educators that are absolutely amazing. I feel like there honestly should be some sort of license that needs to be handed out before you are allowed to teach, based on personality, people skills and just plan common sense. Going through all these stories of people going through the same is testament enough that something is very, very wrong.

  26. Celeste says:

    Your post pissed me off big time. I hate that Mikayla had to experience any of this and that your mother heart was hurt. I feel for all kids and parents who have been subjected to this kind of behaviour at a school.

    A good couple of years ago, my friend went through the same thing and spent thousands of rands on OT and God knows what else the school recommended. Her son was told that he was dumb. When I found out I went batty and reccommended her to the Dept of Education. Turns out that the school did not exactly operate above board and they investigated the school. Things didn’t exactly turn out well for the school administration or educators and thank goodness. Imagine how many kids would have been disadvantaged. Right now her son is thriving at another school and is taking in awards every year.

    From a school administrator’s POV that is utter BS! I work at an ordinary mainstream school with classes of about 60 kids per class. Our educators work their asses off to teach those kids the curriculum as well as fulfill various other roles. Our kids come from extremely difficult socio-economic circumstances and they have real problems. Not made up problems that teachers from advantaged schools label their kids with to make their tasks easier.

    But before my comment turns into a blog post, let me stop right here and leave you and every parent struggling with school authorities labelling their kids… Do not accept any and everything your child’s school tells you. The ADHD card is tossed around carelessly by lazy people who are sometimes in cahoots with the therapists they refer you too. In this way everyone gets rich. If you can’t seem to reach the principal or are given the run around, pay the department a visit. Everyone has a boss. Don’t be afraid of your child being victimised by silly adults with bruised egos. If they want to fight let them fight with people their own age. Stand up for what is right and stand up for your kids.

    • Maz says:

      Thank you so much for your comment Celeste. Would you suggest I go to the Department of Education? I never did as I thought it would be a lost cause. I got my kid out, but we left a lot of moms behind dealing with the same issues…
      Also, how would you suggest I go about it?

      • Celeste says:

        I definitely recommend informing the department. Even if you’re not there anymore, advise other mom’s to do so and have the school investigated. I find it difficult to believe that many kids have the same “problem”.

        The department doesn’t take anything lightly. They constantly remind us the importance of remembering to treat each child as an individual “case” and to always put the child’s well being first no matter what. To be honest it’s quite difficult when we have to deal with upset parents who give us grief to still treat the kid with love and kindness but we do. Working in Education is more than a job, its a freaking honour to be part of forming our future!

        But trust me, no school wants to be on the ministers radar for bad behaviour. I know I shudder when I hear the word minister used in a sentence. Lol.

        • Celeste says:

          Find out who the circuit manager or director for that school is and then lodge the complaint in writing. Follow up with a phone call and take it from there.

          • Maz says:

            Hi Celeste, I had someone kind enough share the minister of education in the WC’s details with me. I am drafting a letter, and requesting a meeting. Besides reporting the school, I think there are a few issues that needs to be brought to light.

  27. MeeA says:

    This is exactly why we removed our boys from the public school system. We, too, were given the spiel about handwriting and disruptive behaviour, and suggestions about “medicating” them. We, too, refused to “medicate” our boys to numb and make them manageable.

    We also struggled with bullying – one teacher actually *encouraged* children to ostracize and exclude those kids whom she labeled as “naughty”.

    And as your own research shows – a system that requires that the great majority of children require “medication” in order to function within it is a very broken system!

    I’m so glad you got your daughter out of there and into an environment where she can thrive.

  28. PlantFerns says:

    This just hit a nerve.
    A really really sore twitchy nerve.
    My kid is two… literally turned two yesterday, and we started this year with a moment of mommabear rage. I am a loud and very frustrating person to deal with.
    I was diagnosed as borderline at the age of 11. I was told by several teachers in South Africa I need to be medicated, my ADHD is a huge issue. I have above average IQ and I used to read my textbooks in school holidays before school started. So by the middle of the year, I was already bored shitless and itching to learn something new and stimulating. I skipped the last year of primary school when moving to Ireland and went to high school a year before everyone else in my age group.
    I was a straight A with distinctions student. Until I got so bored and unstimulated that they didn’t know what to do with me, except challenge me further. I soared in Europe with the correct guidance, and with people that were accepting of my abilities in some areas, and understanding that maths just was not my thing. I got help where I needed it and challenged in areas that I was excelling in.
    South Africa however, I burnt through teachers and schools. I was in grade 2 when a grade 7 boy tried to kick the shit out of me and because I was close to fainting in a headlock and the only way I could get him off of me was to bite him, I got in trouble because I left a mark on him.
    I got detention.
    I was put on a shit list where my mom was called in, the teachers told her I was a problem because I corrected her English… ‘I has a cat.’ is WRONG, fucker. She argued and argued that I am wrong for correcting her. That I lack respect. Until my mother got there and told her politely that in English we say ‘ I have a cat. ‘ and that if she wants to teach English she had better learn to speak it properly.
    My mom and I are both copywriters today and we both speak English. I didn’t get my matric. By the time I got to high school, it was too late already, I had lost all hope and faith that the schooling system in any country would actually encourage me and grow me as a human being that I gave up in my third year of high school. I was being bullied by asshole girls because I was different, I was an African with white skin, and I wasn’t Catholic, I also happened to listen to some pretty weird alternative music, and didn’t fit into any of the groups and cliques.
    It fucked me up so badly that I have such an issue with the schooling system it gives me anxiety dropping my kid off at creche… CRECHE the place where people drop their little-little humans off to sing, dance, throw balls, colour pictures in and play with sand.
    What is so wrong with a creche?
    Well, when you have teachers standing shouting at the African assistants (I mention this for a reason) to do all the hard work, not really communicating with your child but trying overly hard to bombard you with a million assurances without giving you a chance to speak, alarm bells start to sound. When you ask them why your kid has a rather deep and painful scrape and a cut on his palm, and a grazed elbow, and no one knows what happened, you start to wonder… When you get there and because your hubby speaks ZERO Afrikaans and sounds foreign, and they start chatting between themselves in Afrikaans so that you don’t understand… and the principal doesn’t know what the children’s names are… when mevrou verskoon my, maar ek is vlot in Afrikaans maar ek se maar niks… It really irks me that this woman is allowed to take our precious children by the hand and teach them that it is okay to speak to people and bark orders at them.
    It is okay to speak to foreigners like they are idiots…
    I got there and they were couped up inside watching TV shows. Zombiefied.
    They don’t want to waste time writing in a message book what my kid had to eat or if he slept well or not… I have an allergy baby so I need to know whats what otherwise we have nights from hell.
    So it is not just the primary school situation it is far beyond that. It is in every institution that just sees this as a get out of jail free card a job that they just get to sit around on their phones and ignore our kids instead of watching them properly.
    I took my kid to a new creche today.
    I have to somehow find the money to pay for his registration fee, the monthly fees which have increased by a lot, and I need to move him to a new place where he is valued as a child, looked after and treated as a growing human being. My kid didn’t scream like a banshee. He didn’t try to run away when he saw the place. There were a few tears this morning when we took him to the new creche for his trial. But no blood-curdling shrieks.
    I have to contain my mommabear rage. He will have to stay at the other creche until the end of the month.
    But I am not going to ignore my gut. I am not going to ignore my feeling of GET OUT.
    My kid is my world. I will not let him have the childhood education failings that I had.
    Thank you for sharing this, more mothers need to trust their instincts and go with it. My hubby is not on the same page but he is not my baby’s biological father, he is still learning to listen to the instinct. He has said he will help make a plan to get the cash together to move.
    It is so hard for people who cannot afford it, what do you do when you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Can’t send your kid to school. Can’t afford a better school….

    • PlantFerns says:

      Forgot to mention, my first year of Primary school was marred by the fact that they insisted that I go on medication because I wanted to sit and read books the whole day.
      I am and always have been a book worm.
      That is what happens when you are clever, and understimulated in a school environment that doesn’t encourage you to grow and excel beyond your ‘age group’ because you are supposed to fit into a fucking box your whole life.
      I’d rather colour outside the lines instead of sticking to some rigid train of thought. If I had truly listened and moulded myself into what they wanted me to be then I would have been a clone, a boring clone. I would not be a creative, I would not be in the industry I love, doing what I need to be doing. I would go home unsatisfied. This is also why I think our world is so wrong on so many different levels. We are given a cookie cutter mould and we are told to follow all the instructions on the box and if we don’t then we are wrong and bad bad bad bad humans.
      We are basically drummed into thinking that something is wrong with us. This perpetuates mental health issues, it continues the cycle of self-destruction.
      We start accepting that we are wrong and that all piles on top of us. I am still damaged from countless institutions with archaic schools of thought, that has essentially become the nasty voice in the back of my head telling me that I am not good enough, I am not quite enough, I am not normal enough. I am not.
      Those feelings rise up as a severe case of impostor syndrome every now and then. More now than then. I struggle with it. I go home and I cry, I am not educated enough to do my job, and I think that because I didn’t fit into the conventional moulds of how a girl should be… especially with South Africas beautifully fucked up notion of barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen. I have this internal struggle. I have to fight back and say well this is not a joke, this is not a game, no one is setting me up to fail. I worked to get here. I worked hard to be who I am and to get to where I am. This me.
      If it wasn’t then why would anyone be sick enough to play such a cruel mean joke? These are real hard and heavy emotions to go through when you have a kid to shape and mould into being whatever they want to be in life. This is what a poor schooling system does to a kid.
      Add in a few mental health issues and no wonder this world is full of kids killing themselves, doing more drugs than a pharmacy’s stock sheet, we have people perpetuating destructive behaviours because we fail to understand that not everyone is the same. Some kids are ten years old physically and are capable of doing things at a much higher level, I know some twenty-somethings that have the mental abilities of a 14-year-old. We all progress at different paces, and stages. There needs to be a better system in place where kids that need to move on can move on. Kids that need more time get given more time. It isn’t about entertaining kids. It is about accepting that our brains are all different. My kid is light years a head with picking up coordination related things – he can pick up bikes and do physical things faster than some kids his age, but don’t bother asking him to show you colours or to count with you and repeat things. He isn’t stupid he knows and understands exactly what you are saying he just has no interest in doing thing just for your benefit or because you said he should. He thinks for himself.

      Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be so long.

    • Maz says:

      STANDING OVASION TO YOUR MOM! I am so glad your mom fought for you, there are mothers out there who just don’t.

      I am so sorry about your experience at the creche, well done on following your gut. I wish I followed mine sooner.
      All I know is osmething has to change, and somehow we need to be louder than the failed system – so loud that they can no longer avoid us. I am busy drafting a letter to the minister fo education to have a meeting, I want to show her these stories. I want to report the school my daughter was at, and I want children to actually have a damn future in this country.

  29. Aisha O. says:

    I am so so sorry your daughter went through this. I had to hold back tears when I read about the boys pulling her dress up. It’s just disgusting and proof that this kind of gender based bullying and harassment starts here and schools are doing nothing about it. If they don’t take responsibility for what’s happening on their grounds then who’s responsible? I’m so glad you found another place for her x

  30. Lizanne says:

    I’m so sorry Mikayla went through this. It’s unacceptable. I’m glad you found a better school. This definitely assuages any doubts I had about whether I should keep homeschooling. I’ll keep homeschooling thanks. I hope mikayla heals and that she is back to her normal self soon xx

  31. Simone says:

    Maz, I was in absolute tears reading this. These little children are being shaped and are like little sponges. We should be encouraging their curiosity and different ways of learning. Our daughter’s Gr1 teacher called me in beginning of last year, and told me similar things to Mikayla, BUT she said she realizes that Emily learns faster, and in a different way. And asked us if it’s OK if she gave her extra work to stimulate and motivate her. I feel so privileged that we got a teacher who saw her intelligence, and how she gets over-stimulated, and could correctly guide this little girl so she would continue to learn and LOVE school.

    May this new school and set-up and teacher(s) be that for Mikayla. Thank you for sharing a bit of your heart. And doing it in such a way that still shows your character. You are an amazing Mom.

    • Maz says:

      Thank you Simone, there truly are some amazing teachers out there. I am so glad your daughter got one of them. Being a teacher is a calling.

  32. Lizelle says:

    I think what upsets me most is that your story is so common. That I’ve heard thousands of similar stories by other moms! This has become the norm in SA schools.

    Good for you for getting your child out and into a safe space. The sad bit is that not everybody can get out. They are stuck in this system. I really feel as parents we should get to a point where we say enough! That we refuse to be forced to send our children to schools that do not have their best interests at heart.

    On a side note. I’m sure teachers didn’t start teaching because they want to harm children. Unfortunately the system has overloaded and overworked teachers. Many have simply given up and the results are devastating!

    Our country is in a definite need of a complete overall of the education system!

  33. Kristi Fraser says:

    I know the boat you’re in, seems it’s more a ship with all the moms saying they too have these issues. My youngest is bright, I have been told at every parents evening to put him on “something”, Im so tired of it, he is in the Afrikaans class of maybe 16 kiddies and you can’t give him a little extra work to stimulate him. Last year he was choked on the playground by kids, the teacher tried to bully me into being submissive, woah big mistake, clearly don’t know how mamma bear comes out of a usually quite reserved mom. Then they told the children if it’s happens to you once, it’s not bullying, the kids just not being nice. I was like “say what”, so I asked the same teacher, if one person slaps you, another kicks you, one swears at you, another shoves you to the ground… When you go home we’re you bulleyed or just not been nice to. Stumped!!! Needless to say, I’m looking at home schooling😬

    • Maz says:

      That is absolutely disgusting. That teacher should familiarise herself with the teen suicide rate in our country due to bullying – BECAUSE SHE IS PART OF THE PROBLEM. Good luck mamma bear. Enough is enough

  34. Ayesha Hoosain Kanjee says:

    So sad to say, but this is one the few reasons why we emigrated. My kids had wonderful teachers but the school was forced to follow the government curriculum which in my opinion’s main aim is to dumb our kids down so they can blindly become patriotic. My kids are smart, naturally leaders and critical thinkers and they system does everything it can to stunt these qualities.
    We are happy to be in the Canadian school system which encourages building of things, thoughts, ideas etc.
    I acknowledge that they need to emphasis maths more, but we are happy putting in some of that by ourselves because they get zero homework until grade 6
    Oh and schooling here is free

  35. Heather says:

    Hi Maz I am so sorry that you went through this. So much bad stuff but you have turned it around and are starting afresh. I was reading about the comment of the dept of education and I really do think you should pursue it.
    One of the things our previous teacher said to us in the meeting was about talking about your kids in private and not in front of them. How important it is to have that conversation without them. How damaging it must have been for Mikayla to hear that stuff. The bullying issue is also horrible. Good for you for taking her out.
    From a teacher’s standpoint I know how an incident happens in seconds and you just can’t get there in time before the damage is done. And how you live with the grief and the guilt afterwards, not to mention having to tell a difficult parent why their kid has scratches all over them when you really tried to stop it in time. But I always take responsibility and say sorry. It happened on my watch.
    I think one of the important issues you raise is finding a solution. Hope you can report them and that there is some consequence to their actions.
    I was taken aback and defensive this time last year when OT was suggested for Nicky but it was the best thing we could have done for him. Also hard that it was recommended he was kept back but because I have taught Gr 1 before and know what a difference it will make for him, and also for his size, I decided to do it.
    I think this comment is also all over the place but your post has stayed in my mind, I have been turning it over in my head. How can the government improve education with limited resources and a culture of indifference. People playing on phones get to me. There was a nurse on duty on the day Brett was dying was on her phone. And he was gasping. But it doesn’t help to live with regret. Just learn and move on.
    And I am really hoping for a better year for Mikayla.

  36. RVC says:

    My daughter was in Gr2 in a good government school. Her teacher was HOD of foundation phase and had an assistant. We got called in to say that we needed to put her on Ritalin. My exact words were uhm I will first go down every path available before I start medicating my kid. We went to and educational psychologist who could find no reason to medicate her. We moved her mid term to a smaller private school. My kid who “needed” Ritalin became a completely different child. Her marks went up and she loved school.

    She finished Gr7 last year. When she was in Gr6 she told us she didn’t want to stay at current school for highschool. She had her heart set on one of the top government highschools in Jhb. Once again my child has flourished.

  37. Shannon says:

    I used to be an OT and I used to get SO MANY referrals from schools to assess for ADHD.
    I cannot stress enough how pointless most of these assessments were. The kids that came in (99% of the time) were absolutely normal.
    Sure, you can always FIND a problem if you want to (because all kids develop at a difference pace) but for the most part they were absolutely normal.
    Since when does being active (like a normal bloody child!) = hyperactivity and Ritalin?
    Since when does untidy writing = learning problem?
    Since when does anything a teacher “can’t handle” = referral to an OT?

    In truth I got so despondent that I actually stopped working in paediatrics and changed to neurology.
    Further along down the line, I decided to become a teacher.

    From first hand experience in the classroom, children are crazy – especially 30+ of them – AND THAT’S NORMAL AND HEALTHY!! They should be active, they should be inquisitive, they should be given extra/different work if they are bored and they should NOT be given homework (I believe strongly in giving homework activities that link to work in class e.g. learning about flowers – go home and pick 3; then find their similarities and differences, share what you found in class the next day)

    I could go on and on, but I totally agree that the South African schooling system is failing kids and parents. There is a “not my problem” mentality and an acceptance of lazy teachers/staff in general. It is sad and completely unacceptable. Praying for a change, and trying to be that change every day (even if it’s just a little).

  38. Tasneem says:

    I am up at 9pm googling “alternatives to the SA public school system” trying to find a solution that’s right for my son. He is an intelligent and sensitive child who excels in every area of school life but has recently started acting out in a serious way. I’m becoming so anxious because I can feel the problem “growing” and my interaction with his teachers has me feeling that this is MY problem and I should go away and deal with it and bring him back when he is “stable”.

    My trust in this school (which he thrived at initially) is dwindling and I can’t imagine leaving my child in any environment where his emotions and personality are at worst seen as a nuisance and at best considered trivial. I am greatly concerned at this point. I had a good feeling about this school and was happy with his progress there. I now feel that the lack of sympathy and assistance offered by schools is telling of a much deeper apathy amongst the personnel. Teaching, for the majority, seems to be just another paycheck.

    Im not usually all doom and gloom but I hate telling my son “it’s OK if you don’t like it, it will get better” because #1 I don’t know that for sure and #2 why the hell should he have to be unhappy at all. Im looking into home schooling as an option and hope to find something that works well.

    Maz, thanks for this post. It’s given me hope and helped me to see that no I am not crazy! Good luck to all of you having similar issues with your kids.

  39. Es says:

    I went through all the emotions today. Guess that’s why I ended up here at this blog post. I finally received the ‘come get your child from school’ call today. When the teacher brought him to me, he was crying that he wants to stay at school. I felt that my 6-year old child in grade R was chased away like a dog. It broke my heart. It’s been disruptive behaviour the entire year and I feel that it’s pretty soon going to reach an unpleasant climax. I had speech therapy testing done late last year when he was still in preschool. In a previous meeting when the current teacher mentioned concentration issues, I told her about the testing and before I could mention the results, she jumped the gun and assumed it was negative. Where in fact he scored 100% which was apparently not so common. I am going to take my son to a psychologist next week and take it from there. I am just glad that tonight I found a whole lot of people that know what I am going through. I cannot thank you enough for this post. Where I was broken today, I feel renewed in now knowing that I was not imagining the victimisation. I gave him lots of love and reassurance and tomorrow we will face with strength and with the knowledge of our options. X

  40. An3et says:

    It is scary how alike our stories are. My son is in Grade 1 in a well known public school in Pta and (except for the teacher who tries her best) we have been experiencing such heartache since the beginning of the year. He is on Neucon 18mg, but the fact that my 7yo has lost his sunny outlook and personality (he is seeing a psycologist for stress and anxiety), being bullied (where nothing is being done to the bullies; which includes some teachers who cannot handle kids who are outside the box), feeling inferior and that he cannot do anything and that something is wrong with him has me so furious. I have repeatedly asked to speak to the head of their disciplinary department (as he used to get notices for disruptive behaviour without any context or explanation), but to no avail.

  41. Nadia says:

    Hi, it feels like I just read our own story, everything is EXACTLY the same, apart from on our side, it is a son, not a daughter and we are based on the east rand, but everything else is exactly the same, all this happened to my son as well when starting grade 1 in 2018, he also has an above average IQ however on our side we added HFA (high-functioning autism) and severe sensory processing disorder to the mix, I just feel like if the teachers were more willing to assist and interested to find out the root cause of the problems these kids are having in class, so much of my son’s time could have been spared but instead has gone to waist, even the bullying is exactly the same on our side, they knew about it but did nothing apart from talking to the kids… it’s really ridiculous what some schools are doing and getting away with.. thank you for sharing, it helps knowing we are not alone and that there is hope, it’s just very sad that there are so many with the same stories but getting the word out would hopefully have an impact of some sort.

  42. Charlotte Coetzee says:

    The south African School system is not made for children who do not fit into the bubble. My eldest has severe anxiety and depression (diagnosed and medicated) she has to write exams separate from the class with a facilitator to monitor her anxiety etc. but the government school cannot assist because “they do not have any other kids like her and cannot offer a facility for one child only”. For me that is like saying we cannot accommodate that 1 child in the wheelchair.

  43. Annoyed says:

    I wish my parents had listened to the professionals and put me on medication when it was suggested. Instead I went though 20 years of HELL. Only now as an adult has a very kind doctor figured out what my Grade 1 teacher already knew and put me on suitable medication. I think back how much different and how much better things could have been for me if my parents didn’t think they knew better. Just because a teacher tells you something you don’t want to hear does NOT make them bad at their job but rather shows that you are bad at yours. I know many many teachers and have never ever come across one that does not take their jobs seriously and each and every single one of them only has the child’s best interest at heart. If your child cant cope working within a classroom how on God’s green earth will they cope in the working world? Homeschooling is only for disillusioned self centered parents who are arrogant enough to think they know better than people who have devoted themselves to teaching. Your job as a parent is to get your children ready for the real world. And I tell you from experience no one is going to give a dam when your daughter can’t achieve her work goals because her “IQ is too high”, or that she cant work with other people around her or she got bored and couldn’t focus and she never learnt how to cope. All I can say is, from living through it, you are setting up your child for a terrible life and when she realizes it the way I have she will resent you for the rest of her life. “I’m bored” is not an excuse to be disruptive, “I’m too clever” is not an excuse to be disruptive, “There is too much noise” is not a reason to be disruptive, “I’m too lazy to figure out how to teach my kid to cope and want to force my child’s teacher to do my job on top of hers” is not an excuse for bad mouthing the entire profession . Grow up, start doing your job as a mother and stop expecting everyone else to do it for you.

    • Maz says:

      With all due respect, go fuck yourself.
      We went through various therapies, assessments and more – my daughter has been in a new school for a year and is THRIVING. Her previous teacher was not fit to do her job, lazy and not trained to deal with kids properly. Just because you have a problem, does not mean that every single parent in this thread’s children do. My daughter is doing perfectly fine without medication because for once she does not have a teacher that is a complete fucking idiot.

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