Frustrated parents, child and teacher

(86 Posts)
BringOnTheSunshine Sun 25-Nov-12 03:16:12

I have posted in behaviour/development:

I will try to be brief: DS (6y) is in P2.

DS is one of the youngest in his class and is really struggling educationally and socially at school.

Throughout P1 we spent 2 hours per night on homework, not by choice, feeling we were not getting very far.

DS struggled to retain phonics and blending was impossible. He was able to read some words but forgot simple words even after frequent repetition.
From one page turn in the story he would forget "and" or "stop" etc. His behaviour in school deteriorated very quickly and we had our first red slip before christmas, (he threw a crayon and which hit another child, didn't throw it at the child but not the point). I was phoned twice 1 = he cut another childs hair, (didn't realise the other child cut his hair until he was home but don't think the teacher had noticed) 2= he cut a hole in his trousers. He was no longer allowed to sit with classmates when using scissors or use scissors unless supervised. We had monthly phone calls with the teacher and he was started on a behaviour chart. The school felt he was immature compared to his older classmates and felt things would improve by P2.

At the end of P1 he was able to write a simple sentence of 5 words but couldn't blend and though he progressed slowly through reading books, still had the same difficulty remembering phonic sounds and words.
P1 teacher was passing along that he needed firm guidance in class to push him to complete tasks.

He started P2 in August and we are no further forward. We spend 2 -4 hours each night working on his homework. He tries hard, sometimes ends up in tears of frustration because he can't remember a word he knew the page before etc. I asked for a meeting with his teacher after the first month to find out how he was getting on and express our concerns. The teacher said she would spend till Oct holidays observing him. He attends a session with deputy head once per week along with a group who are struggling. The teacher has asked for another 30 min session once per week to work on writing/reading. He was given a behaviour chart again...which has since stopped!

He can explain what task is being done, give answers and solve problems verbally but struggles with writing. He wrote a whole page of random repetitious letters when asked to write about a topic. He will sit staring at his work for an entire lesson...not disrupting others...just doing nothing! They have sent incomplete work home which is a nightmare on top of homework.

He tells me he is not good at reading/writing and it is too hard. He hates school and thinks the teachers don't help him. He also said that he doesn't bother telling the teacher when other kids push/hit him as they don't believe him!

We are on his third red slip so far since August. His behaviour is getting worse at school and we are really at a loss. I have had two calls from the deputy head. 1= to complain he had been swinging his lunch bag in lunch line...not attempting to hit anyone, swinging it around and over his head and to inform us of restarting behaviour chart. 2= he had created a behaviour chart for another pupil who he felt needed one due to disruptive behaviour in class.
The third slip was posted yesterday asking us to arrange a meeting to discuss his behaviour. He had pushed passed a teacher in the lunch hall and ran past another teacher with his arms out and hit her side. Both of these were intentional.

Ds is a sweet and loving boy. At home he is a boistrous, bundle of energy, loves superheroes, being tickled, playing jokes, runnning about, playing with friends in the village. Being 6, he has his moments of being too rough..usually when playing and getting carried away rather than random hitting. Though he has pushed or hit his sister (3y 11mo) and is aware this is not acceptable etc. He is helpful and will tidy up toys etc and help his sister/play with her.

He has a routine, is in bed by 8pm, he gets affection and praise and correction/time out as needed.

Negatively, he is seen as too loud, (he has a loud voice rather than shouting IYSWIM) and is a fidget, needing frequent reminders to sit still, focus on tasks etc. He shows, (I guess), the usual 6 year old cheekiness and attitude.

He knows...can verbalise... that the behaviour is wrong. He is aware of consequences for good/inappropriate behaviour.
We have both spoken to him regarding his behaviour and he has lost Wii time. (he was given his first wii games this month for his birthday and loves it) and is aware that he will probably miss the school trip to the pantomime.

DH is concerned that the behaviour is related to his frustration about class work. DH is Dyslexic and we have mentioned concerns about ds being dyslexic to the teacher in previous meetings. The teacher said formal assessment wouldn't happen until he is 7.

We are all tired, frustrated and utterly fed up....I include the teachers in this!

TalkinPeace2 Sun 25-Nov-12 16:50:03

then the work set is unreasonable.
Stop and breathe
he is 6
he has another 90 years of life ahead of him
these are the ones where he learns to be who he will be later
the school seem to be setting him up to fail
time to walk away

novembery Sun 25-Nov-12 17:06:47

The school sounds poor in that the response to the behaviours you mentioned seems way OTT.
Your ds sounds very like mine, in that he was and is not really 'school shaped' yet- he's getting there now (aged 7) For him it's writing- reading was ok, but he won't write.
I would totally ditch the homework and just read, read, read great stories to your ds. Share the magic of books without any pressure whatsoever. No 'what's this letter' or 'what's this word' just loving the language, the pictures and the stories.
At this age, it's the love of language and what it can do that is the thing to teach, not the mechanics of it, which can come later (and would, if you lived elsewhere)

IndigoBelle Sun 25-Nov-12 17:12:10

My DD had severe dyslexia - and all the work in the world didn't stop her falling further and further behind.

So is all this hw helping your DS? Is he actually learning anything?

I suspect you spend hours on his spellings a week - and the next week he's forgotten them all.

In which case those hours were a total waste of time.

mrz Sun 25-Nov-12 17:12:25

How much homework is the school setting if it can take up to four hours per night? Is there an unreasonable amount or does it take so long because it is a battle?

Euphemia Sun 25-Nov-12 17:44:54

I've PM'd you, BringOnTheSunshine - maybe I can help?

Euphemia Sun 25-Nov-12 17:46:54

Have a look at the government's webpage for Additional Support for Learning - I don't think your school is meeting its obligations to your son.

BringOnTheSunshine Sun 25-Nov-12 17:50:59

IndigoBelle

That is exactly what happens. The teacher cut his spelling from 10 words to 5 per week. We work all week on those words, sometimes he can spell 3 of them by the friday. We then get him home and he was unable to spell any of them at school and can't remember what the majority of them when reading them. He has bee reading biff and chip since P1 but still forgets their names at times.

Some days, (very infrequently), it is like a light switches on and he can read through the work with maybe a pause/reminder or two but the next day he will struggle to say words he has know for ages "the" "and" "on" "in" with no recollection of his new words.

His daily homework is reading pages, usually around 4 pages per night, (1-2 sentences per page) and his spelling words. Some nights he is given a wordsearch, maths sheet or worksheet relating to his book. Or he has been sent incomplete work home.

We go over his words and he copies, covers then writes them. The problem is when he can't remember them we take time working with him to sound out the letters and show him how blend, then he writes them, sounds them out and says the word etc. Doing this takes around 15 mins. That is before we have even started his story.

On the nights he can't be bothered...and who blames him....he takes twice as long.

Euphemia Sun 25-Nov-12 17:53:44

I agree with posters saying stop the homework. It's not fulfilling its purpose, in fact it's worse than that as it's causing him a lot of stress and must be putting him off learning. sad

mrz Sun 25-Nov-12 17:55:27

I wouldn't spend more than 15 mins and if it's clear it's going to be a battle tell him you'll come back to them when he's ready but he has to put in 10- 15 mins effort and use a timer so he can see there is an end.

Tgger Sun 25-Nov-12 18:03:59

You need to get your DH on side re that less is more at this age. It's better he is engaged for 15 minutes, than he is battling for hours. Also, he's just 6, in many countries he would be just starting education, or still be in kindergarten. I've got a niece in Scandanavia who is 7 in March who hasn't been taught any reading or writing. She's showing an interest herself now and starting to blend and write at the level of about a Reception child. She's doing this at home not school grin. But.... noone is alarmed or worried about her as it will be next year at school that she is expected to do these things, not this.

Of course in some ways this is irrelevant, you are in the UK and expectations are different. Just worth seeing the bigger picture sometimes.

IndigoBelle Sun 25-Nov-12 18:07:07

You can't tackle this kind of learning difficulty with brute force.

You need to work out what is causing this huge learning problem and tackle that instead.

Is it diet? Is he intolerant to gluten or dairy?
Is it vitamins? Is he deficient in omega? Zinc? Magnesium? B6? b12? Folate?
Vision? Has he got convergence insiffuciency?
Hearing? Has he got hypersensitive hearing?
Neurodevelopment? Has he got retained reflexes?

He sounds as bad as my DD and she had all of those problems.

missmapp Sun 25-Nov-12 18:12:58

Is there anything outside of school that he loves ( and can succeed at ) that he could do as an after school/weekend activity? It sounds like he really needs to succeed at something so he can feel good about himself. This will also give him a new group of children where he does not come with a label IYSWIM.

I agree with stopping the homework and just trying to do things about subjects he does like.

Push for more support from teh school and less them telling you all the things he has done wrong!!

Good luck

RaisinBoys Sun 25-Nov-12 21:36:10

Aside from all the good stuff that everyone else has said...if you're spending up to 4 hours (!!!) on homework, so say from 4-8pm, and then presumably supper, bath, story (i hope!), he's going to bed quite late for his age.

At 6, after a full (and clearly often stressful) day at school, followed by this level of work the poor little thing must be absolutely exhausted. When does he get the opportunity to run off some nervous energy? Or to just veg out?

A tired child is going to fidget.

And phonecall home for swinging bag?! Think hard about whether this is the right school for him, but quit the punitive homework. He is not a machine

drjohnsonscat Sun 25-Nov-12 21:46:06

I have absolutely no experience but just wanted to say the poor love! He really shouldn't be staring at homework for 2 hours. So demoralising for all of you. I think you need to down tools and rethink. School is failing you all.

Sorry not to have any practical advice but it must be so horrible for your little boy to be demonised like this and set up to fail. Awful for you too. But my instinct is that school is failing.

seeker Sun 25-Nov-12 22:35:14

Bringonthesunshine- I am worried that you aren't responding to all the posts saying drop all the homework.

zalana Sun 25-Nov-12 23:06:36

I agree with what all the other posters have said about the school and the homework, he is a small boy who is clearly experiencing many issues with school and learning resulting in behaviour the school find inappropriate. With the homework help your son as much as you can, read the book with, to him, and help him to write when he has to,encouraging and praising him all the time. Try and meet with the school and discuss your concerns then look for another school which may suit him better,that amount of homework is very over the top.Good luck try not to let your son pick up any anxiety from you.

sagandswing Sun 25-Nov-12 23:57:01

OP just out of curiosity are you in the uk? Boys don't tend to mature into writing until after the age of 7. Just relax, ease off a little, chances are the pressure will be on him at school as it is...if he is having the same frustrations at home this will just make matters worse. Speaking from experience (we tried EVERYTHING! I kid you not) be sneaky smile a little at a time, as fun as possible.

Don't force the writing on him, let him learn at his own pace. If it continues after the age of 7 then have a chat to the schools learning co-ordinator. Please just give him time to relax and soon he may just surprise you wink.

sashh Mon 26-Nov-12 02:47:13

He may be dyslexic, he may be ADHD. One thing is for sure - the school are not helping.

The home work - either scrap it, or alter it.

So instead of learning 10 spelling - impossible for a dyslexic child - pick a word and do something related.

Say you pick 'trifle' - well tri means three, a trifle has three layers, what else has tri at the start and is linked to three?

Make a list - him telling you the word and why, you write it down.

Or if he is given something about castles (sorry no idea what homework P2 is) then get him to draw a plan of a castle and label it together. If he can tell you why there is a moat then you can write that down.

He will learn to read and write, but in the meantime he needs to be keeping up his learning.

He also might find 'time out' cards useful. These are used in FE but I see no reason why a primary child can't do it.

In FE students who find long sessions difficult for any reason are give a number (typically 3) of time out cards. If they feel the need to have a break they give the card to the teacher and leave the room.

Obviously in FE they can go to the canteen or an empty room, for a little one there would have to be a safe place aranged.

cory Mon 26-Nov-12 08:09:50

I frequently wrote in dd's homework diary: "corydd was too tired tonight", "corydd was not able to complete this homework"

dd had no reading difficulties and only got moderate amounts of homework but she was only little

after a whole day at school she was tired

BringOnTheSunshine Mon 26-Nov-12 09:11:28

Thanks for your replies. I am sorry I didn't answer, I was working night shift. I am so tired, can't wait to go to bed!

I am phoning the school for an appointment this morning so I will bring up our concerns to the head teacher and see what she suggests. The letter from them is pretty clear they feel we are working on DS behaviour rather than education issues.

DH and I didn't get much opportunity to talk last night as I was getting organised for work when he came in. We both agree the current situation is not working and is making things worse. It will be a huge struggle for DH to totally stop homework. He feels the school are not helping ds produce work so if we stop, he will have nothing/no one to help him progress.

Euphemia Mon 26-Nov-12 09:20:45

Producing work isn't the issue here. He's only P2, and they're not expected to produce much at all!

I have P2 at the moment: it's an important stage for setting down the building blocks for learning. I have children who can write their name and not much else.

I have 18 in my Maths group, most of whom are struggling to master the numbers to 20. Most lessons are practical: stringing beads, using playdough, writing numbers in shaving foam, physical demonstrations of a numberline and talk about the number before, after, between.

If the children haven't produced anything all week eg written in their workbooks, it doesn't mean they haven't learned anything. My visual and aural assessments demonstrate their learning to me.

Likewise in Literacy, learning is still in small chunks, and as active as possible. Not even the brightest pupils are doing screeds of writing yet!

Let us know how the meeting goes. smile

anitasmall Mon 26-Nov-12 12:14:31

Hi,

Not every child is ready to read and write at 6. It is still worth to check him with a specialist. The earlier you find out the faster you can fix it. Check him for other related dis-es like being able to count, make easy practical tasks...

Many dyslexic people can read and write but they feel extreme pressure when they do it.

However there are articles about the education system that is labeling too many children as dyslexic. (In many other countries children learn to read confidently in about a year).

If he doesn't like this way of practicing, ask him to sign the letters in BSL. He can learn basic words, too. It is a logical system that will help him to understand the meaning of verbs, consonants... and can be a big help at learning languages.

seeker Mon 26-Nov-12 12:19:19

Bringonthesunshine, would your dp be able to accept that the Christmas card making, cooking and list writing activities I suggested count as "work"?

GooseyLoosey Mon 26-Nov-12 12:27:55

Agree with others about easing off the homework.

dd (now 8) has problems concentrating and is the youngest in her year. Her work books had no complete tasks in them and her teachers described her as "zoning out". Like you we had incredible frustrations with homework which (and I am ashamed about this) sometimes led to tears.

She moved schools at Easter this year and we were advised to have her assessed for dyslexia. The assessment showed that there was no identifable problems and in fact dd was very bright. The Ed pysch could only put dd's issues down to emotional problems.

Not saying that this is the case with your dd, but in the same way that our approach and expectations did not help her, I am not sure that yours are helping your son.

Our approach to homework is now (on the advice of the EP) that we will explain anything dd is stuck on once and once only. She then has a timer to complete it. If it is not completed or she can't do it then that's fine, it doesn't get done. We have tried to de-stress it as much as possible.

Also we found with dd that she herself developed the attitude that she could not do things and would not try. With lots of encouragment and not stressing over what she can't do, this is now changing.

Good luck.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Mon 26-Nov-12 12:47:22

I really feel for you as a family and especially for your son.

I agree with everyone that the homework should stop or at least put a time limit of fifteen mins. It is actually counter productive. Try to get your DH to see it your DS's way - feeling under pressure, feeling a failure, etc. when does your DS get a chance to be successful? To be told he is amazing at something he has done? I'm sure you tell him, but he needs more of this so instead of concentrating on something that is clearly not working and that makes him feel like a failure, your DH can work on building your DS's confidence by doing stuff that he enjoys.

Also, I think a lot of the behaviour at school is probably due to frustration too, and whether or not there may be other reasons, it's certainly made worse by this focus on reading and writing.

When you see the school, I would concentrate on what they are going to do to support his needs. Don't let them give you a catalogue of his bad behaviour and no resolutions.

Good luck, and let us know how you get on.

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