School Drop Offs & the Highly Sensitive Child

We had a very emotional school drop-off with our Highly Sensitive (HS) daughter this morning.

For once, I managed to stay calm throughout – wonders never cease! I stayed calm all the way through from my husband walking into the bathroom imploring me to take over and help our daughter get into her uniform as he was about to lose his temper, to the peeling off, limpet-like, of a distraught child at the school gates by the Learning Support Assistant that had been requisitioned to come and help.

Photo credit: LlGC ~ NLW via

Photo credit: LlGC ~ NLW via

Part of the reason I managed not to lose my temper, even when the school shirt was put on and whipped off 5 times in a row (the collar was bothering her), was because I understood that she was tired. Their class had a special outing to Forest School yesterday, which my daughter really enjoyed, followed by an after school trip to the dentist, a late dinner and then bed. All fine on the face of it, but just a little too much for my poor Highly Sensitive Child. She was clearly feeling overwhelmed. I heard her singing in bed after lights-out, her way of winding down an over-active mind.

I feel bad making her go to school when she’s like this, but past experience has shown that once she is in the classroom she manages to calm down and carry on with her day. I’ll need to make sure she gets an early night tonight and maybe skip her fortnighly french lesson if she doesn’t seem up to it, hard when we’ve already paid for it but not the end of the world.

Going through my mind as I struggled to get the school uniform on at 8.36am (we normally leave the house at 8.35) was ‘What do I write in the book as a reason for my daughter being late’? Would ‘tired’ be acceptable? As it was, the gates were just about to close as we got to school so we managed to get there ‘in time’ – plus 10 minutes of sobbing at the gates, but hey, we were on school grounds. Normally I have a real aversion to turning up to school late (must be my HS conscientiousness), but I saw it as an opportunity to start a dialogue with my daughter’s school about the provisions they could put in place to help all their HS children.

I’ve written about this in a previous blog ‘Do you have a Highly Sensitive Child in your Classroom?’, but it can do no harm to say it again. HS children can get easily overwhelmed because they take in and deeply process so much more information than their non-HS counterparts. As a result, they really need a space to retreat to during a busy school day if they feel the need to decompress. A Quiet Corner – with cushions,

Photo credit: Carmine.shot via / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Carmine.shot via / CC BY-NC-SA

books, paper and colouring pens, somewhere they can listen to music through headphones. However, it does need to be a place where the children can go to be quiet, not somewhere for rowdy pillow fights with the cushions! If all schools had a Quiet Corner, maybe parents of HS children would have less traumatic pick-up times, where their HS child has managed to hold it together all day in the classroom, but expresses their overwhelm in a tantrum with their ‘safe’ people (parents) when they get picked up from school.

I have had one-to-one conversations with my daughter’s teachers at parent evenings, explaining that she is Highly Sensitive and benefits from some down-time during the school day. I’m realising now that I need to take this further and try and get the school to recognise that there is a real need for Quiet Corners in all their classrooms.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all schools had Quiet Corners? After all, my daughter is not the only one who would benefit – she’s only one of the 15-20% of the Highly Sensitive population. And some of the other non-HS children would probably benefit from quiet time during the day too!

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