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to find this extreme behaviour and not have a clue where to go from here?

(98 Posts)
NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 04:32:52

I honestly don't know if this is within the realms of normal. My DS is 9 and I am at the end of my tether with his behaviour regarding school work. His behaviour in general has always been very, very difficult to handle but we have made huge progress and although he is still not easy, the consistent approach we have used has paid off and he mostly sticks to boundaries now.

There are still a few areas causing problems and the main one is school work. He goes to school but that's where his involvement in learning ends. He is not keeping up with the curriculum and needs a lot of support from the teacher - fortunately for him the class is small so this has been possible. He doesn't resist too much at school, it's more zoning out. At home he refuses to do homework, we have a homework routine and I make him sit at the table. He will cry and whine and say he can't do it, and at other times just stares into space. He can sit for 3 hours without writing anything down. He is kept in at play time to do the homework every day but still doesn't finish.

He has had several assessments but everything seems to be within normal limits. He is a bit dreamy but not enough to be diagnosed with ADD, spelling and maths not great but not too bad etc. He did co-operate (mostly) with the assessments and was able to do everything as well as they expected from his age. His ability seems to be about average, on paper. I personally think he is above average, and his teacher agrees, if only he would actually do something to show that.

This is not a new problem. but is obviously becoming a bigger problem as he gets older. What can we do? I have tried ignoring him and not making it into a battle, sitting with him, taking away tv/computer, and nothing has made any difference.

Catchingmockingbirds Fri 25-Jan-13 13:30:55

Your posts just describe my little boy to a T OP, he is 6 though and has a dx of AS. I don't agree with keeping him in during break as this would surely just make him even more unwilling to do work later on if he's not getting to let off steam and run around for 15 mins. Also, when DS was going through a violent phase he'd be banned from playtimes but the school weren't allowed to just keep him in, he had to be walked around the playground with a monitor, is your DS's school allowed to keep him indoors every break time to do work?

Wrt homework, I feel your pain, DS os a nightmare at homework time. Timers work, sand timer or stopwatch type of thing. If he gets a sentence done before the timer he gets an immediate small reward like piece of fruit/bit if chocolate/extra tv time/etc. Start with small time intervals to encourage him to get used to sitting down and doing his h/w. I then give DS a big treat afterwards if he finishes like a shot of his iPod. I'm not too worked up about giving him so many treats at the moment as I'm trying to encourage him back into a good homework routine where he'll get it done in a reasonable time. Then I'll ease him out of it by lengthening timer and reducing treats.

maddening Fri 25-Jan-13 13:37:33

Instead of trying to scare him maybe try and inspire him?

Could you eeek out what he likes? Try museums and science clubs or art clubs. Show him different jobs that people do and tell him what things they had to learn to do them? If he needs to see a point then maybe seeing something that he wants to aim for might give him a boost?

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 13:44:45

The teacher told me (and ds) that he could choose to get his homework done at home or stay in at break to do it. He is kept in a lot. I don't like it of course but I want ds to see that I am supporting the school as I do want him to realise that certain things must be done even if you don't want to do them.

I do use a timer but maybe we need to break it down into smaller chunks. He will now sit at the table without too much fuss which is progress in itself.

maddening Fri 25-Jan-13 14:07:32

Instead of trying to scare him maybe try and inspire him?

Could you eeek out what he likes? Try museums and science clubs or art clubs. Show him different jobs that people do and tell him what things they had to learn to do them? If he needs to see a point then maybe seeing something that he wants to aim for might give him a boost?

maddening Fri 25-Jan-13 14:08:26

Sorry double post when I turned my phone on blush

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 14:12:23

maddening yes he enjoys museums and also zoos, farms, etc. He's not keen on joining clubs. We've had many conversations about what he might like to do but I think it's too far in the future for him to see any point to what we're saying.

WorkingMummyof1 Fri 25-Jan-13 16:12:04

Hi, before I say anything, just wanted to let you know that this is an amature viewpoint (have not taught children that age), but to be honest homework is boring!! smile I don't blame him for not wanting to do the work, but could it be the way he is taught perhaps? I have a higher degree (though not in education) and if I were in your place I would do this:

1. Maybe talk to his teacher and ask them to give him a complete break from the discipline he is getting (it does not seem to be working anyway! he should be let out to play whether he has finished or not).
2. Start afresh: for 1 week no one should mention the word homework or schoolwork or anything at home.
3. Next introduce him gently to curriculum contents not from the school homework books but from your own materials using e.g. characters he likes (Spiderman loves maths - no really!) or books bought from a bookshop. BUT only a few minutes at a time everyday - maybe twice a day.
4. If he seems happy to do these exercises, start increasing the time spent at the table. Swap between Maths/English to keep it interesting. Then start to introduce the school work again with the reassurance that it is the same thing you have been doing, but in a slightly different format - you can do it!
5. Continue bribing grin you will get a sweet if you do x or we will go for a walk to somewhere you like etc

Just a thought. Good luck and brew!

TheAccidentalExhibitionist Fri 25-Jan-13 16:31:07

Nearmiss when did he have is ADD assessment? Lot of children don't get diagnosed until they are older, when it becomes more apparent.
I'm assuming he went through CAMHS and a conners assessment was completed to rule it out originally?
Would you consider getting him retested?

PopMusic Fri 25-Jan-13 16:47:39

Have you tried a timer? Set it for 15 minutes and ask him to stay on task for that time. When the alarm goes off, he stops. It doesn't matter if he hasn't finished. If he stays on task, he gets 30 minutes of reward time eg on play station or you agree to play with him, whatever he wants to do (within reason).

He shouldn't be sat down for 3 hours because it will just stress him out and stress you out - it's counter productive and also, he is more than a school boy so maybe focus on those other aspects eg praise his other achievements too (I'm sure you do btw). And applause to you too for bringing him on in so many ways.

NearMissAgain Sat 26-Jan-13 03:28:08

Thanks once again for all the suggestions. I think I need to talk to his teacher again and emphasise the problems we are having at home. Accidental all the assessments were done in the last couple of years. I'm hoping that he is like DH who started focusing in secondary school apparently!

raspberryroop Sat 26-Jan-13 08:04:15

Sorry to be blunt but you need to tell School to bog off with their homework end of and to shove her opinion of what he reads. His personality is ideal for HE but if you do not feel you can do that with him you need to protect him from their negative attitudes on his personality type. They have him for 35 hors a week ,let him have himself back for the rest of the time. THe activities you are doing outside school sound great, reading a seed packet is just as valid as reading a 'teacher'approved book your son is incredibly perceptive of his teachers opinions ,listen to him.

Booboostoo Sat 26-Jan-13 09:23:58

I don't have any experience of the issues you are facing, but just a thought that struck me when reading the thread: if he loves animals there is a lot of relevant tasks, knowledge and skills that could be used to motivate him to learn. Training pets, learning about animal behaviour and practicing animal husbandry may be the way to go (and plenty of careers develop from such interests).

OneLieIn Sat 26-Jan-13 09:31:14

OP, it occurred to me that perhaps all he is getting is negative vibes around him? School say you're crap, you can't do your homework (you're crap), we take your TV away from you (because you're crap), your homework is crap (therefore you are crap), we think you need extra help (because you're crap), we send you for assessments (because you're crap), there's nothing wrong with you (because you are crap) etcetera, etcetera. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy

Where's the positive?

FriendlyLadybird Sat 26-Jan-13 09:42:44

My (very academic) Y6 son has only started doing homework consistently this year. Previously he just wanted to do his own thing at home, and I supported him in that. Interestingly, last year his teacher started encouraging him to do his own thing at school whilst everyone else was having handwriting practice and other things. He really enjoyed it and warmed considerably to the teacher (he hadn't liked her at the beginning of the year).

Homework is not compulsory at this age and I would actually suggest your going into the school and asking them to back off. Keeping him in at playtime every day is pointless and outrageous.

If he's a determined type, he will buckle down at school once you've found out what his passion really is, and can convince him that he needs to do well at school in order to become a vulcanologist, inventor, or whatever.

HavingALittleFaithBaby Sat 26-Jan-13 09:46:40

Has anyone ever suggested he might he dyslexic? I see he was tested for ADD but did they just test for that or other possible learning difficulties?

I only ask because to a certain degree it resonates with me. I did fine at school but only ever applied myself to things that interested me. I struggled with certain subjects (mental arthimetic being the bane of my life!). I would day dream a lot and try to distract my peers all the time to keep me amused too. I also found although I knew the answers to questions in class, my academic results never quite reflected how bright I
was. It wasn't until I was 21 and at uni (as I say, I did ok, but was scraping passes by the time I reached BSc level!) that I was diagnosed as dyslexic. I thrived in some areas of the psychometric tests and struggled in others. The diagnosis meant I finally got the support I needed and was also taught a different approach to learning. My grades improved, suddenly I felt I had a new perspective on myself and gradually my self esteem improved. If he's not been investigated. It's worth persuing it. A formal diagnosis of a learning difficulty would mean the teacher couldn't just dictate how he learned but would have to find a way to educate him that helped him learn. Just a thought.

Lavenderhoney Sat 26-Jan-13 10:20:12

I don't think just because a child doesn't conform to liking school and the way subjects are taught, plus having interests outside the curriculum and not liking the books the teacher likes means that child has learning difficulties and trying to pin a label on him. It may be so, but I still think of individualism first.

I would be more inclined to say the teacher is at fault for imposing draconian measures such as missing play and socialising instead of thinking outside the box and trying to be interested in such a child. Is the teacher very set in their ways or interested in different styles of learning and teaching? Perhaps another perspective from a different teacher might help. Can you go to another school and talk to the head there just to see what they say?

Is there an Ipc school near by? The teaching methods might suit better.

HavingALittleFaithBaby Sat 26-Jan-13 10:27:30

OP did say he struggled with spelling and reading...I'm not saying he does, just referencing my own experience! I don't think 'labelling' is the answer either but I wish I'd known why I struggled so much as a child rather than having to self-refer at 21 to finally understand. A different learning approach radically changed how I felt about studying and my grades massively improved. That's all.

Lavenderhoney Sat 26-Jan-13 10:41:25

Havingalittle, sorry I did not mean to say you aren't right and I can only imagine how a change in teaching and your own realisation would have made a huge difference.

The op says he is not great but not bad at reading and spelling, which I took to mean ok as comparable to his class and age group, not struggling.

I would talk to him a lot about it, raspberryrop who said they only have him for 35 hrs, is wise to me. Supporting the school is fine if they are supporting your ds and listening to his needs, not doing a one size fits all. Their solution isn't working.

Is there an older boy who is a buddy or the same type of person who you could talk to? Who has found a way?

What about posting in the schools boards on mn, in the primary section? You might get a response from other parents with the same issues rather than Aibu?

HavingALittleFaithBaby Sat 26-Jan-13 10:52:21

S'ok! As I say, it's not that I think he must be dyslexic but might be worth considering.

I agree regardless of the cause of his difficulties, he needs a different approach to education. I really feel for him - he finds school a challenge, they expect him to do more work at home (where presumably he feels he should be able to relax?!) and if he doesn't do it at home, he's kept in at school when he could be outside running round blowing off steam?

OP if another school isn't an option, is there another class in the year where the teacher might have a different approach that suits him better?

flow4 Sat 26-Jan-13 10:59:50

Near, you are describing my experience with my own DS1 pretty much exactly. He's 17 now, and I'm afraid it got worse before it got better.

If I had my time again, I would have backed out of school-stuff completely, and focussed on filling his time outside with as much positive stuff as possible... By the time he was 11, he was so frustrated with school that he wouldn't participate in organised out-of-school activities either, and by the time he was a teenager, he wasn't doing anything except 'chilling' with his mates. sad

TBH I think (with hindsight) that school can be actually damaging for some children, particularly those who learn through doing rather than sitting still and listening. It's not just that they under-achieve, but also it knocks their confidence terribly, and they can get into very negative cycles. My DS said to me when he was about 13, "I feel like I'm in trouble all the time, just for being me" sad

Home education would have suited my DS, but there is no way I could have handled it.

Someone wise (it was probably Maryz!) once said on Teenagers that when your child gets into conflict with school (or vice versa) you need to make sure supporting your child is much more of a priority than supporting the school. After all, your relationship with your child goes on long, long after your relationship with the school... This advice came too late for me, but I think it's spot-on.

flow4 Sat 26-Jan-13 11:03:56

And I agree with what OneLieIn says above... I think that's 6exactly^ what happened with my DS1, and it sounds like it's starting to happen with yours...

OneLieIn Sat 26-Jan-13 12:12:43

flow that's exactly what happened with my ds and it took a therapist to tell me.....

NearMissAgain Sat 26-Jan-13 14:04:45

See I knew there were so many wise people on here....I agree that we need to back off with the school work and concentrate on doing plenty of what DS enjoys. Having an ok day so far - DS actually remembered about his reading for school, said he would be in trouble if he didn't do it(!). I asked him how he wanted to do it and offered to read with him - he reads a page, I read a page - and he said ok. I consider that a success! Afterwards he proceeded to annoy his sister (as usual) and ended up being sent to his room by DH, so not so good.

He has been tested for dyslexia and all sub-tests were ok - he can produce wonderful pieces of writing when he wants to, and will happily read books of his choosing. This morning he was saying again that he thinks homework is a terrible idea. I said he could maybe say that to his teacher, but he said she would just tell him he is wrong.

OneLieIn Sat 26-Jan-13 14:10:28

Do you think the tests are helping? Why does he think he's being tested?

NearMissAgain Sat 26-Jan-13 14:14:38

We were really reluctant to take him for testing but the school was pushing and saying there may be ways to help him. He wasn't too bothered about doing the tests in the end, but I don't intend to do any more.

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