Dear Tara's school,
I have decided to write to you today because I am very, very distressed and unable to express in words my concerns about my child’s well being.
A matter is big or small depending on who is looking at it. Since Tara started school in September 2011, I have spoken to you a few times about lunch time and the impact it is having on her behaviour and emotional well being. Tara is only 4 years old and it is understandable that I am unable to get clear information from her about lunch time, and what is causing her so much distress.
I am disappointed that almost a year on, I have made no inroads in finding out what the real problem is. I feel that I am failing my child by allowing this issue to fester, hence this letter.
First of all a few facts about Tara. I am aware that she is a sensitive child and a slow eater. She does not have the same capacity for food as some other children in terms of eating larger volumes in a short time. At home she eats a hearty balanced breakfast and dinner. I was always keen to have her eat lunch at school because I believed it is good social exposure for her. But now I’m questioning my judgement over this decision.
It is not acceptable for a small child to cry, tremble and sometimes almost vomit every night over the last one year over fears about lunch time. I am horrified that Tara feels she has to eat her food when she feels unable to. I would like to clarify that she is NOT physically forced by any member of staff to eat. But she feels the pressure when she is not allowed to leave the table unless she clears her plate. She sometimes has to sit at the lunch table alone after her classmates have left to play till she finishes. She is eating out of fear, not hunger and being sick because of it at home! I am not familiar with school lunch time routines so can only communicate what my child has told me.
I would also like to state that I do not agree with :
1. Having to clear a plate if she is unable to deal with the portions.
2. Having to be left behind by other children to finish up while they play.
3. Feeling she has done something wrong when she has to stay the whole lunch hour to finish her lunch
In this day and age when food issues can create havoc in children as young as five, I would never forgive myself if I let my child down.
Lunch is a small part of a school day. But it is having a disproportionately large negative impact on Tara. She had been enjoying all aspects of school except the lunch hour. I let it slide as was told it might be a phase she is going through. But a full year later when my child is so traumatized that it affects her health, mental well being, sleep and peace of mind I’m afraid I cannot step back and wait any longer, and need to resolve this issue before it turns into a crisis and affects Tara’s over all development and education.
I need the school’s support and guidance in this matter. I know Tara is just another child in school, but she is my only child, who is suffering and has cried for my help.
I’m not sure how to go about it but feel the following may be a start
1. Can someone explain lunch time routines and rules to me?
2. Is Tara unaware of what procedure to follow to communicate to the person in charge to indicate she has had enough so she can move on?
3. Can Tara be allowed to not finish her plate .
4. She can then join her friends at the playground and not feel excluded
5. If you are unable to accommodate her in this regard, I will look at a packed lunch option. It is not ideal but will resolve the issue and let her get on with what she is in school for – a good education and to fulfil her potential.
I am writing in the hope that I receive your understanding and help in this matter.
Who will never send this letter :-(