Teacher doesn't 'get' my DS - what to do?

(37 Posts)
Biscuitsneeded Sat 09-Feb-13 16:06:04

Have reposted this here as it was on the Education board where I suspect there is less traffic. DS2 (just turned 6) has a young and inexperienced teacher this year. She is extremely nice, very organised and clearly working hard for the children and they all like her. However, my DS2 is a complicated character - excitable, chatty, spirited, silly, headstrong, and probably a pain in the neck. We've spoken about what to do with him when she can't get him to listen, how we can be consistent with the messages we give him at home/at school etc and we are making some progress. However, I think because he is a bit inattentive/disruptive/immature, she has DS pegged as not very able. He is stuck on ORT stage 3, gets given the easy peasy spellings each week etc. I'm really not being a precious or deluded mother here; he can read fine and learns the spellings with no problems at all, in fact with far more ease than his older brother who always scrapes onto the top table by virtue of being willing and biddable and I would say reasonably able...whereas I think DS 2 is actually bright. If we play games at home, DS2 will try to cheat, which would never even occur to DS1. And even if he doesn't cheat he always wins! I don't want to undermine the teacher or appear to question her judgment; I want us to work together and for her not to dread the times she has to tell me what a pain he's been, but how can I politely suggest he could be given more challenging work? I once asked if he was definitely on the right ORT level (when he'd been on Stage 2 for EVER) and she insisted he was so I didn't push it. It won't matter in the long run, I know, but I don't want him to get hold of the idea that he's deemed a bit middling, and for that to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. What can I do?

jalapeno Sun 10-Feb-13 08:29:27

Boys have been socialised but they socialise differently so they learn differently from their experiences. They are less empathetic, have more testosterone which makes them more active and a bit more aggressive in approach.

There are reasons why boys can't keep still. What do you do if they can't learn how to overcome those? I have very high expectations of my son as does OP of hers I'm sure but what do you do when your DS doesn't reach your expectations? I am constantly trying to get him to "conform" but I can't make him when he isn't with me.

Well, I am going to try this week with school reporting his behaviour to me but I had hoped I could leave school to it grin

Fairenuff Sun 10-Feb-13 13:20:42

I am sure that the teacher does 'get' your ds.

She gets that he has poor concentration. She gets that whilst he is able he doesn't complete the tasks he has been set. Or that he gets muddled because he hasn't listened properly to instructions.

She gets that he distracts other children and messes around in class. She gets that he is not progressing as well as he should be in his education.

What to do about it? First of all, as a parent you could take him to be assessed by his gp to rule out conditions such as ADD. You could give him the most suitable diet, including perhaps omega 3 supplements, or whatever is recommended by the gp.

You could ask him about the class rules. These will be very clear and he should be able to reel them off. Such as no talking when the teacher is talking. Keep your hands and feet to yourself. Respect school property, and so on. You could reinforce that he needs to follow the rules.

If he won't conform then there will be consequences. These are his choices to make. The teacher will be very clear with expectations and consequences and you can support those, which will help him in the classroom.

There are some other strategies which could be used, such as Now and Next. Now we do our numeracy and Next you can play with the trains (or whatever he's into). He will learn the distinction between work and play and start to appreciate that if he puts in the effort he will reap the rewards.

Btw I work with 6 year olds and it is not a 'boy' problem. Each child is an individual and plenty of boys at that age can concentrate long enough to complete the task in hand. Please don't write him off as 'just a boy'.

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Feb-13 13:31:24

How is his diet OP? I ask because my older DD was similar and when I removed all processed foods, the change was HUGE.

I removed cheese too as it's processed isn't it...so no biscuits I hadn't made myself...VERY little sugar in her diet other than naturally occurring in fruit etc.

No juice....it's amazing really as she's gone from being way behind to a level above expected for her age now she is 8.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 15:10:11

No, but equally as someone who wanted non gender-specific toys for her children and believed honestly that differences were as a result of socialisation and unconscious prejudice affecting expectations, I am really struck by how different they are. It was DS's birthday party this morning. The boys, with only one exception (and he is an ASD child), were constantly on the move, trying to wrestle each other etc. The girls thanked me for helping them (unsolicited) and stood still and listened to instructions. I'm not saying boys CAN'T behave like this too, but there is an enormous gulf in maturity at age 6. I agree that over-compliance in girls isn't too great either, but these ones haven't been crushed or oppressed; they just naturally want to please and don't need to charge about or roll in the mud.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 15:30:01

Anyway, galvanised by all of your advice I have just ordered a load more ORT reading books at a slightly higher level, which DS can read at home with me. Even if his teacher doesn't notice any improvement it won't hurt! We have loads of non reading scheme books but the ORT ones make DS laugh and are perfectly pitched for him in terms of vocabulary.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 15:31:25

That's interesting Mrs Mushroom. He eats enough of the good things but probably too many sweet things/processed things as well. I think only processed cheese is processed, though, IYSWIM!

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 15:43:27

Fairenuff, thank you. I can see a lot of what you are saying makes sense and I will be more systematic about getting him to tell me class rules and explaining consequences etc. Oddly, he doesn't exactly have poor concentration. He has poor concentration IF he would rather be doing something else. If he is engaged, he can concentrate on one thing for ages. He will do a difficult jigsaw or play a game for a long time, quite happily. He has just opened all his birthday presents from his party and insisted on reading every word on every card, instead of tearing through them to get at the presents as I would have thought he might. I know there are boys who at 6 can do exactly what is asked of them (my DS1 was one), but as you say each child is an individual, and this individual finds listening and following instructions difficult. I am wondering about seeing the GP to rule out dyspraxia (he is hypermobile and very clumsy), but the original point of my post was not to try to diagnose my son, which I will leave to the professionals, but to get his teacher to see beyond the silly behaviour. If she was saying "Well of course he's more able than this but because he gets silly and distracted he isn't doing the work to justify the next steps" then I would feel reassured. But I think she just thinks he's not very clever...

Startail Sun 10-Feb-13 15:43:52

It isn't totally a boy/girl thing, but it is something in the way different children mature.

DD1s Y2 teacher didn't get her at all, she just saw a silly fussy child who didn't finished things. Subsequently I've found several mum's of DS who have had trouble with this teacher too.

She is a very good teacher, but she plans very complex elaborate lessons, lots of fun additions to the basic learning.

DD1 is dyslexic (although school refused to accept this for another 4years), she'd enter wholeheartedly, into the fun bits, but avoid the actual work.

I get the feeling many of the boys did too.

My very socially mature and conventionally academic DD2 had no trouble with her at all.

I'm afraid there isn't a cure, you just have to hope he likes next years teacher more.

Fairenuff Sun 10-Feb-13 21:46:11

the original point of my post was not to try to diagnose my son, which I will leave to the professionals, but to get his teacher to see beyond the silly behaviour. If she was saying "Well of course he's more able than this but because he gets silly and distracted he isn't doing the work to justify the next steps" then I would feel reassured. But I think she just thinks he's not very clever...

The only way your son can be assessed is on the work he produces in class. If he cannot, or will not, concentrate on the task long enough to complete it, he will be assessed accordingly.

The teacher may well be able to appreciate that he is clever, but if he cannot take direction, or settle to a task, he will not achieve the levels that you think he is capable of.

If he is slow to mature, you might find that he catches up in a year or two. Or he may not.

The teacher will not move him on to higher level tasks until he has demonstrated competency in the lower levels.

As a parent, the best thing you could do is help him learn to take direction, concentrate on a task, follow instructions etc. This will be more valuable to him than focussing on his reading level, for example.

learnandsay Sun 10-Feb-13 21:50:34

Borrow books from the library and get him to read those and ignore the school reading books. He might be acting up because he's not being challenged enough.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 22:40:42

"As a parent, the best thing you could do is help him learn to take direction, concentrate on a task, follow instructions etc. This will be more valuable to him than focussing on his reading level, for example."

Yes, fairenuff, but how?? He was being a nuisance at dinner tonight. Kept annoying his brother and then started flicking food around. So we sent him to his room, but he was still giggling as he went up the stairs. He seemed to think he would do his time in there and then come back down and have pudding, but I put my foot down and said that a boy who throws food needs to understand that there would be consequences, and he wouldn't be getting pudding. Cue massive meltdown. I waited for all the sobbing to subside, then we had a cuddle and I explained to him that if I didn't help him realise why throwing food is not acceptable then he might do it at school, or at a friend's house, and got him to tell me how he thought teachers/other parents would react in that situation. He got the message then. But up until I said no pudding it was all a big joke to him, despite numerous requests to stop being silly, and even when sent upstairs he didn't really think he had done anything wrong. He just doesn't hear warnings, or irritation, or threats, until it's too late. So I can ask him to be good and listen to the teacher until I'm blue in the face - it just doesn't go in.

I do honestly think he'll catch up in a year or two, when he's got a bit more maturity, but I don't want him to fall too far behind his potential in the meantime.

Fairenuff Mon 11-Feb-13 09:01:44

How do you do it? By setting rules and enforcing boundaries.

Yes, he will be upset and have a meltdown. That's good. That's what should happen so that he realises there are consequences to his actions. It has to matter to him.

He was giggling because it was all a game. In the past, nothing upsetting has happened to him because of his behaviour. Now you are enforcing the boundaries, he will learn. And if he is clever he will learn fast. But it is imperative that you stand firm, otherwise all you will teach him is that if he pushes hard enough, the boundary will break.

I waited for all the sobbing to subside, then we had a cuddle and I explained to him that if I didn't help him realise why throwing food is not acceptable then he might do it at school, or at a friend's house, and got him to tell me how he thought teachers/other parents would react in that situation

This bit is where you feel guilty. Don't. You are giving him the tools to deal with life. You are making him feel safe by enforcing the boundaries.

I always think of it like this. When we get on a rollercoaster the first thing we do is push the bar in front of us. We want to know that it will hold. We want to be safe whilst we have fun. If the bar gave way, or only held fast some of the time, we wouldn't ride the rollercoaster. We have to trust the bar. He needs to trust you, as his parent, to make the right decisions for him.

Children who cannot rely on their parents, learn to rely on themselves. They can become quite disruptive with their behaviour and refuse to follow direction from adults. Your ds isn't there yet but he could be if you don't nip this in the bud.

So don't bother with the cuddle and don't give lots of attention for tears. Just continue in a matter of fact manner, as if you expect his behaviour to change. He doesn't need to know the ins and out of why you shouldn't throw food. He already knows it's naughty. He just needs to learn that these are the mealtime rules and it's up to him to choose how to behave and face the consequences, good or bad.

And when he behaves well give him lots of praise. I used to take my ds out for a meal (beans on toast at the local cafe) to practise eating out. He would sit nicely waiting for his food, have a quiet chat, use a napkin, eat carefully with a knife and fork, wait for others to finish, say thank you to the staff and walk out nicely grin. He was only about 3 when we started but he thought it was a great treat and I could praise him on his lovely table manners.

Well done for seeing it through. It's not easy, I know, but it will get easier the more you do it. And you will be so glad you did when he becomes a teenager and knows that you mean what you say. Good luck.

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