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!

OP, my DSD is one of the youngest in her year too and has had similar issues picking up reading, writing and math, to the point where my DH has wished several times that he'd deferred her entry to primary school. Homework has been a pain too - her P3 teachers in September were sending home double-sided worksheets that they thought should take 20 mins to complete, but it took her 40 mins to an hour. And I remember 1-2 hour homework disasters when she was in P2 and P1.

Taking a break from your DS's homework sounds sensible to me - I can't imagine your son's confidence with schoolwork will improve if he keeps going for hours over his assignments. My DSD got into a spiral herself about homework, to the point where she was in P1 and lying to us about having any.

When you decide to go back to trying homework again, can you get your DS's teacher to confirm how long she actually expects her pupils to spend on homework (I will bet it is 15-30 mins)? Maybe it would be worth doing homework for exactly that long, and then stopping for the night and turning in the incomplete assignment with a note about what went wrong. It would at least become obvious to your DS's teacher how much he can realistically do - and maybe then she would stop thinking your DS has an attitude problem in class.

DH and I have had to lower our standards and let DSD occasionally pass in homework with mistakes (this is usually in sentence writing). We've had to write notes to her teachers in the homework book and document how long her assignments have taken. Bringing in non-classroom programmes like Dancing Bears flashcards and putting on TV shows with Muppets singing about phonics helped with DSD's attitude towards learning to read. It is still uphill, but it's gotten better for us.

I feel for ya. sad I think if DSD had been a boy with her issues, she might have been singled out as a troublemaker too - instead she was the class crier and dubbed "very sensitive".

CaseyShraeger Mon 26-Nov-12 14:41:09

I agree with everyone else. It sounds very likely that he's dyslexic, and the hours spent on homework isn't actually helping - it's just making him behind and miserable rather than behind and happy.

DeWe Mon 26-Nov-12 15:27:10

I can't see why those behaviours were considered bad enough for a "red card".
If "swinging his bag" was "swinging his bag and refusing to stop when told to" fair enough-but the card would be for the refusing to stop.
Behaviour chart. Sorry, but I chuckled at at, and I would have expected the staff to chuckle in the staff room too. That's not a "bad" behaviour at all. A little word about how it's only the teacher allowed to do that would be appropriate. I'd only expect a teacher to bring it up in front of you as a "very sweet amusing moment".
Again, pushing past the teacher should be a "LittleBring remember to walk until you get outside", no more than that.

My ds is in year 1 and I am certain I would not have been told about 1 and 3, and 2 would only be told in a "amused" way.
He hates writing too. We usually do some of the homework on the computer. he writes some much better knowing he can type the rest. And he only gets one thing of homework a week that takes maximum 30 minutes. That's more than enough for him.

picketywick Mon 26-Nov-12 15:31:23

yes 2-4 hours homework frightening good luck, you are great

BringOnTheSunshine Mon 26-Nov-12 15:33:45

We had out meeting this afternoon with the head and deputy head and feel much better. We have a plan! We are going with the 15 min timed homework. We explained all the difficulties he is having with writing/reading and how we feel it is affecting his behaviour. The head took lots of notes and is contacting an educational psychologist to assess him. She said it would likely not happen until after christmas holidays. They are going to produce a special 10 min break time as positive reinforcement for ds so he has something positive to aim for during the day/week. She doesn't feel the behaviour chart or red slips are working with him so they need to try something else. She didn't mention the panto so I am assuming he can still go. She was very positive and keen to help and was upset that ds doesn't like school so wants to work at changing things for the better.

We feel more positive that something is being done to help rather than feeling he is "trouble"

Euphemia Mon 26-Nov-12 15:37:16

Well done! Sounds like a good plan!

TalkinPeace2 Mon 26-Nov-12 15:37:19

GOOD
While its still fresh in your mind, write down EVERYTHING you can remember from the meeting - for the record
ideally you and DH do the task separately so that your different memories come into play
and then yes
let your son PLAY and be a kid for a while - it will make all three of you much happier

seeker Mon 26-Nov-12 16:14:28

And please, please, please get a timer and don't be tempted to do a second more than the 15 minutes- even if it means stopping in the middle of a word. I'm a bugger for saying "oh, come on, let's just........." and it's such a bad idea! And watch your dp like a hawk- I bet he's a "let's just get this finished" type as well!

BringOnTheSunshine Mon 26-Nov-12 18:13:15

I have a timer ready to go :-D

DH agrees that we need to try something new. He is hoping that if the homework time is fixed and we are all more relaxed that we can start enjoying bed time stories again....they had become a real chore just because we all felt drained by bed time.

We already do crafts and cards. DS enjoys crafts so we always make teachers/family gifts for christmas and easter etc. He is asking to do crafts as his special time at school??? his choice!

It will be a struggle for us both to just stop without doing all the work. It seems so wrong to hand in work like that.....but we both know how important this is so we will have to be firm with ourselves and each other.

BringOnTheSunshine Mon 26-Nov-12 18:17:16

I strangely feel much more posititve and confident after speaking to the head teacher. She seems very proactive and actually listened to our concerns. His teacher just seemed lost and unsure and adopted a wait and see. The deputy head was more for punnishing him and removing treats.

zalana Mon 26-Nov-12 18:54:30

Oh that is good news that you have been to see the Head, sounds like it was a positive meeting.
Hope it makes a difference and you are able to develop a good relationship with your DS teacher, perhaps you could offer to go into school to help.

Euphemia Mon 26-Nov-12 20:02:17

I would rather a pupil in this position handed in incomplete homework - then at least I could see what he can manage. Perfect homework tells me nothing. It certainly doesn't tell me about four hours of tears and frustrations. smile

Keep talking to the school - that way neither side is making assumptions, and you're working together to help DS.

squeezedatbothends Mon 26-Nov-12 21:27:43

Oh poor little man...and poor you too. It does sound as if dyslexia might be an issue, but also stress does nothing for the memory - cortisol and adrenaline literally destroy memory and Talkpeace2 is absolutely right about the need to develop the lateral synapses. You all need a break - stop the homework straight away - this is madness. If the school can't understand this then they're the wrong school for your child. Play games, if you want to, developing movement memories as another post mentioned can help dyslexic children - they're encouraged to use joined up writing ASAP for example because the hand remembers the movement. I've found sign language useful for spelling patterns, also magnetic letters, drawing words in sand and in the air and on each other's backs...lots of fun stuff you can do.

On an optimistic note, a friend's daughter was labelled 'remedial' at school, left primary with a label of SEN and ended up with a first from Cambridge once her dyslexia had been diagnosed. Times have moved on thankfully, so tell DH not to worry too much. Ask the school about the Lexia programme - it's online and interactive and my kids enjoy doing the tasks on there. If they don't step up, move him to somewhere that won't put him under this ridiculous pressure and label him as a problem.

nooka Tue 27-Nov-12 05:42:03

Just to give you another positive story. My dyslexic son who would throw himself to the floor and scream rather than attempt to read his home reading book for any time at all at the age of 6 told me today that he was officially the fastest reader in his class - 260 words a minute apparently. He still writes terribly mind, but there are more solutions for writing so I think that's less of a long term issue.

He is 13 now and cracked reading at around about 8. Behaviour wise it took longer to resolve (remembering the consequences of his action at the time of deciding to do the latest dumb thing being the biggest issue) but he has grown up a lot the last few years. Some children just take a bit longer to get there than others.

RibenaFiend Tue 27-Nov-12 07:24:30

Couldn't read without saying you're clearly a very dedicated and hardworking mum OP. To have got to 2-4hrs a night must have taken a lot of incredibly hard work.

Your meeting with the head sounds very positive. Enjoy the bing or buzz of your timer and enjoy your son in the evenings!smile

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 27-Nov-12 07:45:34

The homework is too much.

Do 30 minutes, if it is incomplete, leave it. 30 minutes and stop. No Primary school age DC should do more homework than that.

He has some barrier to learning - the poster that mentioned 'slow development' of visual processing has a point, proprioception and visual processing disorder are totally different to base vision.

And with the struggles with phonics, have you considered an Auditory Processing disorder? Again, this is different from base hearing. Your DC could have perfect hearing, but the brain is not PROCESSING the sounds properly. Hence needing SALT to learn correct pronunciations, and struggling to decipher phonics.

My DD has APD, and never learnt to read using phonics. She couldn't read until she was 8yo, in Y3, when she started being able to read basic Reception level books. She learnt mostly by whole word recognition.

I would ask the SALT about the possibility of Auditory Processing Disorder. It sounds VERY likely to me, given what you have said.

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Tue 27-Nov-12 07:49:13

I'm glad that the meeting with the HT went well.

I would still say to ask his SALT about Auditory Processing Disorder though - a school based EP is unlikely to diagnose this.

crazygracieuk Tue 27-Nov-12 08:22:51

I think that you have had some good advice.

My sons struggled with phonics, reading and writing in Reception. What I have learned is

It's pointless doing homework that's too hard. Ds2 is currently in Y2 and quite good at maths but last week's homework was too hard for him so I sent it back undone with a note that he did not understand it so could she go through it. It would have been easy for me to tell him the answers but if the teacher doesn't know it's hard for him, she might move onto harder stuff which is pointless.

I did not make Ds2 learn spellings in Y1 (which is P2 in Scotland). He could not even form letters correctly so it was pointless. The time that he would have spent on spellings was used as handwriting practice. Sometimes we spent the week simply reading the 10 words which was more useful and appropriate to his level. By the end of Y1 (P2) he was ready to learn some spellings. He's currently Y2 (so P3) and I still edit which spellings he learns. For example, last week he had words like "ascend" which he could read but didnt know the meaning and would never use so I didn't push him learning it.

Spelling tests are not an efficient way to learn how to spell. It is very common for a child to learn how to spell a word correctly for the test and not in general written work. General spelling rules like "If a word ends in e then add an s for the plural." is much more useful. My son used to write z in those cases so learning that rule was more useful. His current school are good at matching the sounds that they do in phonics to the spelling lists but I know that some schools aren't.

I'm surprised that he has to learn 5 if he's in a low group. Our old school did 10 for high group, 5 for medium group and 2 for the low group.

I'm surprised that you manage to sit him down for so long. I think that you can learn efficiently in much shorter times say 20 minutes a day and that it can make a big difference if you do it daily.

Good luck

BringOnTheSunshine Tue 27-Nov-12 16:26:47

I know we are only on day 2 but what a difference there is to the atmosphere in the house.

Last night I put the timer on for 15mins and spent that time doing his 6 reading pages. We ran through slowly helping with words he couldn't manage then I read the pages with him repeating each word. He loved the bell going at the end...and the fact he had completed the reading 30 seconds before it went :-D

He was told that if he manages 3 days trying hard with homework...gets a sticker each day...then he can have time on the Wii. He is very excited about it all.

DS has gone for a walk with DH before it gets dark then we will have dinner and do his homework sheet. Today he has a maths sheet and reading...we will see how it goes! fingers crossed.

I think knowing that regardless of how much we get through, it will only take 15 mins, is making me giddy.

I know this is just the start and we have only scratched the surface but I don't feel like we are drowning ... can only be good

Euphemia Tue 27-Nov-12 16:52:34

Fabulous! smile

auntevil Tue 27-Nov-12 17:13:10

Apologies if this has been mentioned before - haven't read every post blush , but the swinging bags, barging side of things sound very much like my DS. He has dyspraxia as well as dyslexia. In fact both theses and ADD, ADHD etc are often linked, sharing similar traits.
If I hear it once a day, I hear it a hundred times "It was an accident!" This is when DS hasn't allowed enough room to do whatever he is doing and knocked into someone etc. He has no spatial awareness. This also means that his version of a tap on the shoulder is another's version of being hit. It is hard sometimes to give him the benefit of the doubt with all the accidents - so I know some people stop believing that they are accidents and then do not trust the voracity of much that is said.
Totally agree with everyone who has said about doing smaller amounts of work. I don't think we would have ever found the time to do that much studying after school!

drjohnsonscat Tue 27-Nov-12 17:17:48

That sounds good OP. Apart from anything else, you need time to just be together as a family, sitting around together doing nothing, sometimes.

nooka Wed 28-Nov-12 03:32:36

Sounds like your ds is responding to the new approach. That's great. All of you being happier at home should make a difference to his behaviour, and you never know with a bit less pressure perhaps the reading will have more of a chance to click.

Tgger Wed 28-Nov-12 09:42:10

Hooray!

seeker Wed 28-Nov-12 10:16:38

Keep checking in here, op-you might find it hard to keep on the 15 minute straight and narrow! We can help you!

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