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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.

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 04:46:06

When you ask hIm about it, what does he say?

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 04:48:27

Depends on the day - he says he can't do it, doesn't want to, thinks it's boring/pointless, waste of his time, so unfair, too hard etc etc. I have even tried to scare him with stories of unemployment (I am desperate) but he says he doesn't care, he doesn't want a job anyway.

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 05:00:21

Gosh! He is talking like a teenager at 9! How infuriating for you!

My dad was like this throughout his childhood, a real dreamer and struggled with anything academic. He has been self employed all his working life and is a well respected expert in his field of work and has always loved his work.

My brother was like this too but lacks determination and I think scratching beneath the bravado his self esteeme is very low. He hasn't done anything and has been on benefits since leaving (getting expelled from) school.

Do you think all this could be to do with his confIdence? Do you think he think he can't do it or won't be good at it so won't bother trying?

anonymosity Fri 25-Jan-13 05:01:06

what does interest him? can you find a positive way into subjects via things he does care about? He may genuinely be bored but potentially a very high achiever. They shouldn't keep him inside during breaks - boys actively need to burn off physical energy in order to focus in classrooms. That's a pre-historic way of dealing with problems...
just a few thoughts for ya.

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 05:08:20

I suppose what I'm getting at is perhaps its time to take the pressure off him getting his homework done and start looking at every which way you can build up his confidence and self esteeme, find ways for him to prove to himself that 'he can' rather than 'he can't'.

I think then this will impact positively on his school work eventually, and if not his school work then he should be better equipped to make it in that big wide world.

gillyglops Fri 25-Jan-13 05:09:26

Not everyone thrives in formal lessons - I would agree it would be worth finding out what really inspires him, and encourage that. Perhaps he'll grow up to be a successful personal trainer, or gardener, or woodcarver, or artist etc. The educational system tries too hard to squash all kids into the same shaped box.

anonymosity Fri 25-Jan-13 05:13:09

I wouldn't assume an intellectual lacking due to disinterest in class room work. It doesn't mean he's meant for manual work. He could actually be light years beyond the teacher and what is being taught. It has happened before....

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 05:13:39

Good to hear dad finally got his act together hyperballad. I hope that will happen with DS as I sense there is a lot of ability there. He gives the impression of being full of confidence, almost arrogant at times, but I think some of that is a front. I don't think he is lacking in confidence though, I mean it can't be nice getting negative feedback from the teacher on a regular basis but he just shrugs it off, on the surface anyway. He has never cared about conforming or followinf rules. Some of that is good as an adult but he is making his life very difficult in the meantime.

anonymosity the break time detentions don't seem to be working anyway. He loves anything hands-on and engages more with that side of the curriculum, but still gets bored quickly if he can't do exactly what he wants with the equipment. He enjoys playing with other children but he is always the leader so will simply leave the group if people don't want to listen to him.

I think he would prefer to home school but I just couldn't do it.

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 05:13:57

This may seem a bit old fashioned but girl guides did wonders for my confidence, is he part of any group like this? Perhaps scouts/cubs would be something that could help.

TanteRose Fri 25-Jan-13 05:16:17

Why don't you try completely backing off for a while?
he is only 9

for a few weeks, don't make him do anything at home (leave school to handle things their way)

take the pressure off at home completely

can't hurt for a couple of months

poor boy, he must be miserable sad

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 05:16:49

He does go to cub scouts and loves the parts where they are given a pile of wood and nails and told to build something, but he zones out during the "boring" parts. He doesn't usually want to go though.

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 05:18:19

Ha! Do you know what, I don't think you have much to worry about in the future, sounds like he's made of good stuff (although sending you crazy now!) I think he could be sat on that panel on dragon's den in a few years!

Still think scouts/cadets type group could be really good for him.

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 05:19:07

Sorry xpost about the cubs!

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 05:19:10

TanteRose I have sort of been doing that - I decided that it was his problem and left him to it. But we recently had a report from school and they are asking us to support more with homework. When no-one is making demands on him he's very happy but gets very angry very quickly if he can't do what he wants when he wants.

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 05:25:21

I really relate to what your describing, we are all like this in my family we have ended up being dancers, photographers, jockeys, sales people, jewellery makers, and everyone of us self employed!! I don't think any of us are employable!!

Yep I think take the pressure off at home, embrace anything that he enjoys and is good at to build 'real' confidence and I'm sure things will be ok. You'll probably enjoy him more this way too smile

He sounds like a non-conformist alright! Nothing wrong with that but the frustrations, for both you and him must be huge. It also sounds like he is really angry, and possibly struggling with the fact that he is different and doesn't want to do what his peers, mum and school see to expect of him.

This may seem an odd suggestion, but have you tried taking him to a counsellor who works with children? Someone who is completely outside all the dy to day pressures to conform and do as he is told. They would hopefully be able to help him express what's really going on, be it frustration, anger, lack of self esteem or whatever and help him understand it and communicate it.

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 05:36:21

TheSkiing, sounds like he'll try councelling the councillor! ;)

Lavenderhoney Fri 25-Jan-13 05:52:19

This resonated with me, ESP about future/ jobs/ etc, just to explain about how choices narrow without conventional exam results unless you know what you want to do, which most people don't! I hope I haven't stressed my ds nowsad he is so young. I want to back off, but then I want to instil a work ethic.

Can you ask him to do his homework then do work on home project that really interests him? What about refurbing furniture etc if he likes that, a small piano stool to start? Or some wood and tools and learn to make a box with the corners cut to fit, no glue? Or make a jigsaw? my ds enjoys music so I put that on as well. Plus a snacksmile

I have this with mine to some extent, and I just say it won't go away so let's get it done and do something else more fun. This works at school to- if he finishes some writing he gets to do something he likes, a bit of painting while he waits for the others. My ds also prefers to work alone at projects at school. He asked if he had to do it in a group as he had clear ideas of what he wanted and was allowed to. He was given the option of joining a group but was quite happy. He does group stuff if he doesn't care about the project- teacher says he then just sits back and lets others do it, or gets bored with arguing and gets everyone organised then sits back againsmile

The latest thinking on homework is that it is not necessary and the head of our primary school would stop it if she could as she feels kids should do other stuff outside school and grow that way too. Unfortunately the head of the whole school disagrees. A couple of schools we know of don't set homework at all!

School doesn't suit everyone does it? ( hopeful)
I have tried to interest my ds in the cubs/ scouts but he says the same as yours.

shemademedoit Fri 25-Jan-13 06:01:17

No advice, but marking my place, and sending supportive seen to be describing my son exactly sad

shemademedoit Fri 25-Jan-13 06:03:13

SeeM to be....

Yfronts Fri 25-Jan-13 06:22:59

I can't see why you and the school are pushing the homework aged 9. Why don't you let him play and enjoy his home life, then maybe he might feel happier generally and more focused/interested eventually when he does need to concentrate in class.

Yfronts Fri 25-Jan-13 06:23:55

Yes I agree build his confidence at home doing things he enjoys - swimming, building dens etc ..

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 09:26:19

Just came home a read all the replies - good to know there are others with similar boys, and some very hopeful points about the future too. It is my instinct that he will be ok as he can be very determined, but I would like him to to do as well as he can at school and pass exams if possible. But I also know that I can't force him to learn. He is actually learning all the time and loves to be busy doing all sorts of things of his own choosing - inventions and creative games, roaming around searching for interesting objects outside etc, he just doesn't seem to fit into school life.

I do feel that the school expects too much homework but they won't seem to budge on that so there's not much I can do. We live in a remote place so can't really change schools and he loves where we live as he has quite a bit of freedom to explore outside. The school does have a counsellor lady who visits so I could pursue that suggestion. To be honest I can't imagine him opening up but you never know.

He has lots of opportunities to do activities he enjoys - he regularly goes off camping with DH, loves animals and feeds pets for all the neighbours whenever they are away, goes fishing, builds dens etc - so we will obviously continue with all of that. He resists structured activities but we have made him learn to swim - it's taken a while but we are there now and he's actually very good but could be even better if he made an effort. I guess we just plod on with the school work and try not to worry too much. His teacher has made noises about not letting him move up next year and I told DS - he replied that she's lying....

He has been asking for pocket money recently - we tried once before with additions/deductions related to behaviour/attitude but it never workedand he always lost a lot. He knew the deal and wanted the money but could not seem to control himself enough. I reminded him about previous attempts so we'll see.

HappilyUnhinged Fri 25-Jan-13 09:39:25

Have you considered removing him from school and home educating him? School isn't for everyone and for many it totally stifles any love of learning. If you are in a position to do so, I'd recommend HE, it needn't be for ever, try it for the rest of this school year and reassess come September, perhaps.

I bet if you go to the home education section of Mumsnet and post your thoughts there you'll get lots of useful advice.

boredSAHMof4 Fri 25-Jan-13 09:44:42

9 is an awful age IME!!
This too will pass

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 09:46:20

I have thought about home-ed but I really don't think I could do it. I wish I could. He saves his worst behaviour for me (all guards down) and I can't imagine it working. He is slightly better with DH but he couldn't do it as he works to support us all. DH is however fanstastic at doing things with DS at the weekends and on holiday.

I just remembered something DS said to me - "my teacher just thinks everyone should love reading just because she does, she thinks that's how I should want to spend my time but that's just work, work, work and a waste of my life."

FauxFox Fri 25-Jan-13 09:52:03

Have you asked him how he feels you could deal with the homework situation? Not quite the same but my DD (Yr3) was causing me no end of grief trying to avoid homework tantrumming, refusing, doing it really badly etc and I made her a hot choc one day and we talked about it - Can't change that it needs doing/how to avoid all this drama etc.
It turned out she feels weekends should be a complete break from school work, she suggested she do it after school in the week. I was amazed! I had assumed the last thing she would want to do after school was more schoolwork (she finds it hard to focus and get things done at school like your DS). We are 3 weeks in and it's a dream! HW is set on weds and she has 2 things to do, she does one piece on weds eve and the other on thurs or fri depending on social stuff and we don't have to think about it at all on the weekends!
Good luck with everything - it's hard when the school system doesn't seem to fit your child very well isn't it?!

YorkshireDeb Fri 25-Jan-13 10:01:32

From a teaching perspective I'd say it's never worth having a battle over homework & agree with the people who say don't do it - but I appreciate your son's school might not share this perspective. I also think the talk to him suggestions are worth trying - we started a new behaviour system last year that involves talking to the children about their problems & encouraging them to help to find a solution. Some children have really flourished & found it almost empowering. On a side note though I'd just ask if he plays 'age inappropriate' computer games? A lot of children in our school who have similar problems to your son play 18 games at home & a mental health professional once explained to me how damaging this is but I think a lot of parents don't realise. X

EmmelineGoulden Fri 25-Jan-13 10:03:17

Generally speaking it doesn't sound like much is going to change at school until he's older and feels driven to engage for himself.

He sounds like an unschooling candidate - curious and determined but turned off by conventional schooling. You say you don't think you could home educate because he saves his worst behaviour for you, but if you weren't trying to school him, but instead trying to facilitate him learning by following his passions and interests for a few years, could that work?

It wouldn't need the same skills as trying to follow a school curriculum, but it's asking a lot of you and you'd need to think hard about whether you felt the approach was right and whether you had the facilitation skills and resources for it. Could you take him out of school for a term and try it - with an incentive for him of being able to keep it up if the time is productive for both of you?

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:04:10

Thanks fauxfox and glad you are seeing such improvement. DS has homework set every night for the next day and occasionally something for later in the week (which he never remembers about) and the only thing he has to do on weekends is read for 45 minutes each day. He has to read certain books during the week so at the weekends we let him read whatever he wants (usually some kind of encyclopaedia rather than a novel). His teacher is not too happy about his choice but we have ignored that....

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:09:42

I think if I asked him he would say something like "watch tv first then have dinner then do homework", which means it wouldn't get done! We have tried different routines and the biggest tantrum comes with turning off the tv so tv never goes on until everything is done!

He doesn't play 18 games - super mario etc on the weekends only.

Thanks for the link emmeline - I do think it is really interesting but such a big step and I'm just not sure. I did once ask him if he would like to stay at home (he knows one boy who does) and he said no (the thought of all day with me?).

musicposy Fri 25-Jan-13 10:13:11

Just a thought, there may not be any worst behaviour to save for you if he was at home all the time. It sounds as though most of the worst behaviour is centred around issues with homework and what the school is demanding. You may find the problems just don't exist once school is taken out of the mix.

He sounds like the kind of child who would thrive with an autonomous education - I know a few boys just like him in the home ed world who are happy and thriving and their parents are still sane! You could ask more over on the home ed board. But I do agree you need to want to do it because it is a full on 24/7 thing.

musicposy Fri 25-Jan-13 10:14:12

xpost with Emmeline!

diddl Germany Fri 25-Jan-13 10:15:08

Why on earth does he have to read for 45 mins on a Sat & Sun?

That´s a lot imo!

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:15:12

As it is I can't answer many of his constant questions so imagine how many more there would be if he was home all day!

Example from yesterday: (related to going to a baby's baptism and talking about how some people baptise babies, some people wait until the person can decide for themselves, some people do neither) "So if you weren't sure if you wanted to be baptised, and you got really old, then you died, would you still be able to go to heaven?" (Ummm....)

I think there would be lots of "why don't we google that?"

ukatlast Fri 25-Jan-13 10:22:49

You may want to get him checked out by a behavioural optometrist. It could be his eyesight - he may be able to see but his eyes may not co-ordinate, track properly leading to inattention, lack of desire to do desk tasks.

Good luck - it made a real difference to one of mine who is now a bit of a swot. Treatment is fun exercises and also helps builds self-esteem I found as it gives them an explanation for why they found desk stuff so challenging in the past.

willyoulistentome Fri 25-Jan-13 10:27:19

Marking my place too.. my 9yo Ds1 sounds just like yours. Homework is HELL in our house. I do think my son has very low self esteem. He will also NEVER join in with anything. Loves playing football in the garden ( or the house grr.) but refuses violently to go to the local Saturday morning club. I can;t get him to DO anything. He was picked for the school athlectics team in a local competition and cried and whined about it instead of being pleased.

He just won't ever try very hard at anything. Any time he has to make any kind of concerted mental effort he just cries and says he 'caaan't' He wouldn't even sit and play with lego.

I have also resorted to trying to frighten him into getting into gear by warning him he will never pass any exams or find a job with his attitude. I think it hit home, but instead of getting in gear, t just made things worse. He now wails -"I'll never get a good joooob".

I am despairing! HOw the Hell will he cope at seconday school?

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:30:54

Thanks for info ukatlast. Not sure how he would take the suggestion of fun exercises though - he opposes almost everything I ask him to do.

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:35:13

willyoulistentome my ds won't join in with anything either, UNLESS he sees a reward he really wants. So if he's at a party, for example (doesn't usually want to go but occasionally does) he doesn't see any reason to play the games. But, once he spotted the big bag of sweets which was the prize in a dancing competition, decided he wanted it and proceeded to do the most outrageous, noticeable dancing you could imagine. He won the sweets. So I think these kids pull it out when it suits them!

Callisto Fri 25-Jan-13 10:40:05

I would consider HE too. Just bescause his behaviour is worst with you at the moment, this may not be the case if the pressure from school is off. And I know all the arguments about career choice etc, but tbh with individuals like your son formal qualifications probably won't figure much in what he wants to do. And if he does want to be a vet for eg, then he will be able to take exams without having to go to school. Check out the HE board and see what people say there.

Finally, he is very young still. I would not force him to do homework whatever the school says.

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:46:40

I will check out the HE people. I have a lot of admiration for them and agree with many of the reasons.

Mumsyblouse Fri 25-Jan-13 10:56:15

One of the reasons you are having these problems is that the school is very heavy on homework, I hate the homework mine do, but it's a lot less than that, usually one lot given on a Friday due next Wed, plus the usual reading/spelling. My dd1 resists a lot, but the school have set up a homework club and so if they don't complete it they have to stay after school, and this is perfect for me, as it takes the heat out of the situation.

I would not be battling daily with a 9 year old to complete homework, I'd be going in and discussing how daily homework is making home life a battleground and that you are simply not doing more than 2 x 20 min a week or whatever and then you will leave the teachers to deal with it. Or, set the timer for 20 min, then what hasn't been done doesn't get done.

My dd2 has had difficulties with her reading/spelling homework and in the end I simply stopped doing it as I don't want to have a 30 min tantrum battle every night. It was not at the right level, and she was tired. We do the weekly homework and the reading a few times a week and that's that.

I would commit to what you think reasonable and abandon the rest, and explain to the school, this is about emotional/family welfare. They might not like it but there you go, it's ridiculous to have this spoiling your home life for no good reason whatsoever.

EmmelineGoulden Fri 25-Jan-13 10:59:01

Agree it would be a very big step Near. I post it only as a suggestion to consider. It's not something I've done, and I don't presume to be able to tell what would work for your son or you.

stargirl1701 Fri 25-Jan-13 11:12:44

Are there any schools near you with Forest Schools programmes? That would be a perfect solution.

stargirl1701 Fri 25-Jan-13 11:14:35

Have you read Nutureshock? Some very interesting research in there. 'How Children Fail' is also very good.

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 11:40:44

Will look at both of those, thanks. No Forest schools sad

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 13:16:16

Willyou, eek! Please don't try and frighten your son again! I'm sure you won't but a 9yr old should not be worrying about not getting a job. At all. Ever.

Build him up, tell him he CAN do anything in life if he puts his mind to it, he can achieve anything!

Try to find the positive way of explaining things rather than the negative.

I know it's easier said than done and takes energy and time but it is so important we build our kids up and inspire them not knock them down and worry them.

Hobbitation Fri 25-Jan-13 13:27:47

I also hate how some people think any manual work = dumb, not using your brain. Whereas sitting in the office staring into a screen is highly intellectual??

I was very academic at school but still vastly prefer practical work with my hands, so much more satisfying.

BridgetBidet Fri 25-Jan-13 13:28:48

I did this. It was because my parents only really paid attention to me when I was doing something negative. If I tried it was never good enough to be praised it was just ignored so I played up to get the attention

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.

OneLieIn Sat 26-Jan-13 14:30:11

Why did he think he was being tested?

NearMissAgain Sat 26-Jan-13 14:38:20

We just told him we wanted to check how he was doing. The last time was almost a year ago now. He was ok about it and didn't seem to mind. You just never know with him. He is definitely aware that hs is not keeping up though because he has to read his reports from school and sign a copy to send back.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 26-Jan-13 14:48:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OneLieIn Sat 26-Jan-13 14:54:15

With my ds, it was a case of couldn't do his homework, did it badly or not at all, got into trouble, knew he was going to get into trouble, therefore did not do his homework, knew he was going to get into trouble, therefore didn't listen when I asked him, he got into trouble, knew he was going to get into more trouble....and so on. We had him tested, we said it was because he might need a different way of learning, he thought it was because he was stupid, because he thought he was stupid and couldn't do his homework, he believed he was stupid and got into trouble. He got into trouble at school, at home, he was isolated and difficult.

It is a vicious cycle.

You need to break it.

revolvenotevolve Sat 26-Jan-13 15:04:49

I think your son sounds a bit fabulous actually. He's got quite clear interests is determined (even in the face of considerable nagging) he knows what he wants and can excel to get there (winning the sweets). I was the opposite to your son - loved school work and was brilliant at it. However I lack the determination drive and specific interests to actually succeed in a field.
Just because this very traditional education doesn't do it for him it doesn't mean the end of the world. I would try and find avenues to get him spending time learning what he wants to do preferably with someone he can look up to (Im thinking helping out on a community farm or in some stables). Also 45 mins of homework every night sounds like a total drag and too much.

amicissimma England Sat 26-Jan-13 15:04:56

I think there are quite a lot of people who aren't really suited to school. Most of them get through as best they can and then start their 'proper' lives.

Two friends have children who just fought, struggled and resisted all the way through. One is in a very successful band, touring the world, the other stayed on at uni for a second degree!

It's a pity for such people, but a certain level of academic achievement makes adulthood much easier. Have you discussed the long-term picture with your DS, not just threats of employment problems, but from the angle of what he needs to be able to do and how he thinks he can develop these skills? It is, after all, his life, although he needs to draw on your greater experience for guidance.

Meanwhile, he is not alone!

NearMissAgain Sat 26-Jan-13 15:21:02

Good to hear the positive stories and love that link to Churchill etc - you do tend to hear this kind of background with the ultimate high-achievers! He is rather fabulous actually just bloody frustrating at times. The 45 minutes is just reading, they have to do maths and some kind of writing on top of that!

Lavenderhoney Sat 26-Jan-13 19:19:08

Near miss I do think you are a great mum to your ds, and well done for sticking up for him and you with regards to stopping the testing as its going to make him feel different for all the wrong reasons.

I hope he gets his work done faster and he gets a more inspiring teacher next year. And he makes a list of stuff he wants to do and you can do it outside school and after the dreaded hwsmile
Our home projects as ideas...
Currently we are have drawn a map to track how/ when birds emigrate across the world, wind, and how they affect the plant and insect life when they get there. There are pirate ships on our seas as wellsmile Its blimin exhausting but fun toosmile

ukatlast Sat 26-Jan-13 22:36:32

If you are convinced he can read, write, add up etc and that he is unwilling and unmotivated for some reason, I am sure it would make sense to back off with the pressure.
However maybe (if he is a typical boy who likes computers) you could do all his homework on the computer and print it off (whether his teacher likes it or not)....with writing stories, may be he could dictate them to you so as not the stem his freeflow by having to think about spelling etc.

The other thing you could do is to offer to pay him an amount per day for doing his homework provided he gets on with it and doesn't make a big deal and waste time. It may be bribery but it works and let's face it as adults we work for monetary gain so it is a good preparation for the world of work. My kids pocket money is still conditional on doing HW without fuss but it is never an issue thesedays.

Mytimewillcomebutwhen Sun 27-Jan-13 01:05:35

I just wanted to agree with ukatlast about the payment. I know I know - the prevailing view is that kids should do as they're told cos they're Being Told, but I had to be bribed to do homework. I'm very academic (4 yrs of phd) but would never to something unless I could see a good reason blush so for years and years, my mum had a policy of £1 per piece of A graded homework. What can I say? I was a delight grin At the end of the day it stopped the homework battles for many years.

I know this could sit uneasy on you but ukatlast makes a very good point about work n wages. I just wanted to say it worked for me. I went on to do a second degree after temping for years cos I could never find the right job. I'm now self employed and far happier.

I think you're trying really hard to sort this out which is lovely smile I would decide what actually is important in all of this - and ask the school too.

lljkk Netherlands Sun 27-Jan-13 08:54:42

Do you have any behaviour problems other than with regard to school work? It doesn't sound like it (not beyond minor things like winding up siblings which is almost compulsory sign of being normal, anyway). Most kids are difficult about homework and plenty zone out in school and don't get much work done. The portrait all sounds so pressured and full of high expectations, jumping to Home-Ed which is usually a pretty laid-back approach to learning would be a huge shock/change for you both. Be aware that HE becomes a lifestyle.

I have similar but I think much worse issues with DS; he is difficult in lots of areas so quite different picture, I think. Now in yr4 and only in last few months does he mostly crack on with homework without major tantrums. But DS hyperfocuses in school, mostly, we haven't had zoning out. My friend's young boy zones out loads, I remember thinking he could be on ADHD spectrum.

NearMissAgain Mon 28-Jan-13 04:18:44

Really appreciate the votes of confidence - in no way do I get it right all the time with ds but trying hard!

I like the idea of paying him his pocket money related to getting homework done each day - he is like a little adult in a lot of ways so this could appeal to him. We could put it to him as "everyone has to work and sometimes there are parts of your job you don't enjoy but you have to do it anyway."

lljkk I wouldn't say we don't have any other behaviour problems but things are gradually improving. He has been much harder work to discipline than my other dcs - he had toddler tantrums which continued way beyond the age you would expect, and can be extremely oppositional and stubborn, much more than "average" I would say. At other times he is delightful. How did you help your ds?

Arcticdream Mon 28-Jan-13 04:58:17

My ds was very individual like this only interested in certain subjects or activities he watedto do and had slight dyslexia tendencies he grew out of . One teacher at primary went ballistic because he asked to be taught chemistry when e couldn't 't do his regular English ..she was really angry! He hated schoolwork and I had to spend ages over it.
However it turns out he's extremely bright and musically gifted, has a monumental memory found schoolwork very boring.he is always streets ahead and is extremely innovative. He s 21 now and tels me schoolwork was v ery dull.

Arcticdream Mon 28-Jan-13 05:00:09

Try not to battle too much with him I found my ds was very sensitive but also very oppositional and angry if people were overly negative and unfair with him.

GothAnneGeddes Mon 28-Jan-13 05:12:24

O.P - while I understand why he can be quite hard work, his comments you've told us made me smile.

I would agree that school need to back off and look at the bigger picture if possible.

Hyperballad Mon 28-Jan-13 06:06:05

OP, will you update this thread in 15 years and tell us what he is up to?!

My bets are he's runn

Hyperballad Mon 28-Jan-13 06:08:39

My bets are he's running his own successful business and treats his mum to nice meals out and bunches of flowers regularly! smile

Goldmandra Mon 28-Jan-13 10:07:24

I agree with all the comments about taking the pressure off as much as possible, rewards for homework, etc but I also think you need to try to get to the bottom of why he can't concentrate in the classroom.

Has anyone looked into his sensory processing? My DD2 has AS and she cannot concentrate in rooms where the smells, lights, touches or noise are overpowering.

The smell could be of washing powder on another child's clothes or the teacher's perfume.

Noises could be from flourescent tubes, other children whispering or a fan running.

The light could simply be the sun being low in the sky and shining in through the window.

Touching could be a label in her clothes, other pupils brushing past her or someone wobbling the table.

They are all things that most children will take in their stride or perhaps find to be a minor irritation but my DD zones out completely. She literally takes herself away from the classroom in her head and becomes unaware of what is happening around her and the passage of time. It is a self defence mechanism and the solution is to remove the sensory stimuli she can't cope with. She doesn't recognise these stimuli as problematic for herself. Someone else has to notice them for her a lot of the time. It took a skilled OT and a specialist Autism teacher to spot what was happening but small adjustments have made a big difference.

She also has always had a big problem with homework. In her head school work is for school and home is for relaxing. In the end the Ed Psych recommended that the school stopped asking her to do it.

Another thing you should look into is Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). It is an element of Autism but can be an overarching difficulty on its own. Children with this don't respond well to normal behaviour management strategies and find pressure to do things unbearable and counter-productive. Putting pressure on my DD2 to perform increases her anxiety and reduces her ability to process thought and language. She then has no hope of completing a task.

Another thing to look at is "Impaired Executive Junction". This is another element of Autism but is also present in ADD and ADHD. It can mean that a task which involves several elements can become overwhelming even though each individual element is well within the child's ability. My DD2 freezes when presented with a blank piece of paper yet she can verbally recount all the information she needs to present on the paper faultlessly. She needs a framework to work within.

One of DD2's biggiest issues when writing anything in the classroom is the overwhelming choices of words and methods she has to choose from. She went through a stage of having to do every sum using every method because she couldn't choose just one. Writing things down was nigh on impossible because she had to choose every option for every word and her sentences became lists of similes. Her solution was to zone out and write nothing until a teacher or TA was talking her through it and choosing the words for her. Again it took a lot of hard work to find out what was going on and why.

Despite all of these difficulties DD2 is very academically able and is very adept at appearing to be neurotypical and simply a bit awkward and inattentive.

There are ways that the teachers would help work out if any of these problems are the root cause of his concentration problems. They could also invite their Autism outreach team to come and observe him in the classroom.

I think you need to ask for a meeting with the class teacher and SENCo and start by asking them to give him a homework-free period. In the meantime they can look further into what might be disrupting his attention.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Mon 28-Jan-13 10:27:21

OP, my DS2 has SN and is similar to your DS, but much more extreme. Your DS doesn't sound like he has any SN to me. He sounds like an ordinary, if rather stroppy, boy.

Your school, on the other hand, sounds horrible! He's 9, so in Y4? That's an awful lot of homework they're expecting him to do. In Y4 my DSs got 10 spellings, and either a maths or literacy task once a week, that took maybe 1/2 hour. Plus reading, but at that age they could read what they liked. My DS2 only ever reads Horrible Science or Guinness book of records by choice, so I do make him read one fiction book a month, be it Jeremy Strong or something equally appealing.

I wonder if an alternative to HE would be to investigate your local schools and find one that is less pushy. It sounds like he needs to find somewhere that respects him as an individual and is more flexible around his learning style before he's put off education for life. His school sounds like a SATs factory to me. sad

NearMissAgain Tue 29-Jan-13 00:17:28

I do think he has far too much homework and I'm glad you all agree. That makes me feel not so bad if he doesn't get it all done. Today, for example, he had to do the usual 45 minutes reading and log the page numbers, write a poem, and come up with 20 interesting words in different grammatical categories then put 5 of them into interesting sentences. He didn't have any maths but sometimes he will have maths set on top of all that.

I talked to him about pocket money for homework and he was keen to try. He rattled off a poem very quickly - he has no difficulty with that kind of task as his mind is brimming with (strange) ideas. He wrote all about a person who looks different and how they felt - it was actually very good. He complained like mad about finding the words for the sentences task, and refused to even try at first. I kept gently reminding about the money. He just wanted to get it done and wrote the simplest words he could think of. I wasn't sure whether to push any more - it's so frustrating as I know he can do it. We narrowly avoided a meltdown and he eventually came up with some great ideas, but what a struggle. Because he was annoyed at me by this point his sentences were things like "I ran FRANTICALLY up the stairs to escape from my mum because she was DEMANDING more and more homework."

I have wondered about both PDA and ADHD - he ticks boxes for some SN but no diagnosis so anything there must be mild. I'm not keen to pursue any diagnosis at the moment but always interested to find out more and strategies for coping/helping. We are lucky that he has a small school/class with lots of support where it's needed.

Thanks again smile.

VicarInaTutu Tue 29-Jan-13 00:25:49

Can i just ask who did the assessments with your son that you spoke about OP?

was it the school ed psyche?
or an independent or clinical psyche? or a doctor? or someone else?

i ask simply because i am the mum to a 21 yr old with above average intelligence and academic ability, who has SEN in the form of AS, Dyspraxia and dyslexia.

all denied by the school ed psyche - admission of a SEN can cost the LEA and in this climate of money saving its not to their advantage....

DS was dx by several people back in the 90s, he saw lots of different professionals including clinical phsyce, OT, SALT, .

DD has dyslexia but was harder to spot as she is very well organised and hid most of her difficulties, she was tested at school and found to be dyslexic, not much help but she does have a reader for exams.

you need to really get to the bottom of why he switches off....what is it that he finds difficult and why.

bubbles1231 Tue 29-Jan-13 00:50:28

Give him more responsibility and he will probably thrive on it. ask if if there are any chores he might want to do. DS1 wanted to hang the washing out at 9. I had to sit on my hands watching all those crumpled clothes bunched on the line, but allowing him to do small things helped. He was also given a toolkit- a proper one not pretend. My stepdad gave him offcuts of timber and some nails & he had a great time sawing and hammering, most of it nailing odd bits of timber to a tree in the garden.Cooking may be another thing. I discovered DS1 is really good at pastry, again I had to sit on my hands at the mess but he loves making mince pies.

Goldmandra Tue 29-Jan-13 07:48:03

I have wondered about both PDA and ADHD - he ticks boxes for some SN but no diagnosis so anything there must be mild.

It doesn't follow that the difficulties are mild. Lack of diagnosis often means that an unskilled clinician has made the decision and the child is High Functioning and good at camouflaging symptoms.

As a child gets older these types of difficulty can present more and more of a problem and by High School quite a few children are unable to attend.

It's fine to say you have chosen not to pursue further assessment but please don't make this decision based on the fact that any condition couldn't have a serious effect on him.

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