Need help phrasing dd's concerns about teacher and writing

(32 Posts)
katalex Wed 13-Feb-13 13:06:49

DD is in year 3 and is 7 (8 next month). Throughout year 2 her teacher told us several times that she wasn't writing enough - only 2-3 sentences when at least 6 were expected. She couldn't think of any way to address this other than telling her repeatedly that it wasn't enough. This year we had the same feedback at the October parents evening and one of her teachers (part time, job share (mon-wed) said that she was trying to address this by giving dd smaller targets e.g. 2 sentences in 10 minutes. I don't know if this was shared with other other teacher (thurs/fri). The first teacher went on maternity leave in December and the cover teacher took over in January. A few weeks into this term she said to me that dd doesn't write enough and she was not aware of the plan the previous teacher had to give her smaller targets. Dd has been getting more and more anxious about this recently and says that the thurs/fri teacher just gets cross with her when she sees that she hasn't written enough. She was in tears about it last night and she now dreads the Big Write session because she knows she will be told off.

She is now expected to write at least half a page and it is only going to get worse as she gets older so I feel that they should be doing something to help her. DD says that she has ideas but just can't get them onto paper. This is becoming a real issue. In last year's report her teacher said that she had an excellent understanding of sentence structure and a very good vocabulary but she doesn't provide enough evidence of it.

DD said that only children on the bottom table for English get help with their work so I suggested that maybe she should be put on the bottom table (she is currently on the middle table - out of 5) but she didn't like that idea and it may just demotivate her even more.

I've made an appointment to see the thurs/fri teacher on Friday so that we can talk about this. Am I right in thinking that the teacher should be doing something to help her?

Do you think that I should tell the teacher that dd is scared of her getting cross with her or leave that bit out and just tell her that she dreads the Big Write sessions and finds it difficult and then ask what she can do to help? I've never spoken to this teacher before so I can't guage how she would react. I don't want to make things worse for DD but on the other hand I want her to know how DD feels.

Sorry this is so long, I didn't want to leave anything out.

makemineapinot Wed 13-Feb-13 22:29:12

You could ask the teacher if they use mind mapping - I've found that to e really useful with some Holden. There's a website (kidspiration?) which allows you to put things down in mind map format and it formulates it as prose.

socharlottet Wed 13-Feb-13 22:24:27

I have a Y3 DD and we have been told to get the DC to say what they are going to write the night before they do a 'Big Write'

P)S I hate 'Big Write' it sounds ungrammatical!

prettydaisies Wed 13-Feb-13 22:18:35

About talking to the teacher about ADHD. By all means mention it and see what she says. But it is a medical condition and hence needs diagnosing by a doctor. Teachers are not paediatricians or GPs!

toomuchicecream Wed 13-Feb-13 20:15:39

Can she tell you what she wants to say? Could you get her to record it, then play it back bit by bit, writing it down as she hears it?

afussyphase Wed 13-Feb-13 16:46:14

Would it help if she drew a tiny sketch or picture or something to remind her of what she was going to write next? So instead of written bullet points, tell the story in pictures and then write about it?

GraceGrape Wed 13-Feb-13 15:10:10

Does your DD have trouble getting started with a piece of writing? When I've had pupils like this, I've allocated an adult (either myself or an LSA) to sit with them for a few minutes at the beginning of a task and get their thought processes sorted out and the first couple of sentences written. This might give her confidence to continue with the rest of the task. It does depend on adult availability but doesn't have to be every writing session. Even if she gets support some of the time it should help her to grow in confidence with the writing process. All children have the right to be supported with their writing, not just the least able. Teachers should spend at least one session a week guiding each group.

Let us know how you get on!

katalex Wed 13-Feb-13 14:58:02

Thanks isthatallyouvegot. It's so frustrating and we really need to nip this in the bud before it's too late.

Thanks everyone for your advice. You've been really helpful smile

isthatallyouvegot Wed 13-Feb-13 14:48:29

Katalex I have just been reading through the posts and this one;

How is telling her to write more going to help when she doesn't know what to write? I really hope that's not all her teacher is going to suggest, otherwise she is going to have a miserable rest of the year.

Hits the nail on the head! smile. In what way is telling a 7 year old that she needs to write more supposed to support her? She is clearly struggling for some reason...and it is obviously isn't because she is not motivated otherwise she would not get upset by the fact she hasn't produced more. I would suggest that you meet with her teacher, ask again about how your daughter is progressing and then ask politely what other suggestions she has to tackle the difficulty she appears to be having. Don't forget to point out how long this has been an ongoing problem for, and so far any nothing seems to of improved the difficulties your Dd is having, then ask again what other suggestions they have. Failing this ask to speak to the schools SENCO and see if he/she has any suggestions.

Hark at me, I have been posting threads very similar to this and now I'm handing out advice. confused

katalex Wed 13-Feb-13 14:43:20

She hasn't been assessed for ADHD but having just googled it, it may be worth mentioning to her teacher. I've never heard of the inattentive form and she certainly seems to match a lot of the symptoms that are listed.

I will definitely tell the teacher that she gets a lot of help with her writing homework and that we will try educatingarti's suggestion of me sitting with her for 30 minutes with a few prompts and see what happens. I genuinely thought that they would know this wasn't all her work but I want them to see the full extent of the problem. Maybe the teacher does just think she's not paying attention or that she's being lazy but that's the last thing dd would want. She thrives on praise and encouragement and gets very upset if anyone thinks badly of her.

My reason for suggesting sitting with her and prompting is as follows:
She is obviously finding concentration hard.
It would be helpful to find out if she is just finding it hard and then giving up or whether, even with constant prompting she is finding it impossible to concentrate. If the latter, no amount of telling her to write more or putting in rewards and sanctions is going to work. It is nigh on impossible for a teacher or TA to spend that amount of time on one student in a class-full. It would be useful feedback for a teacher if you could let her know what happens.

Keep the prompting calm but firm, don't get cross and try not to enter into arguments. grin

Smartiescoffer Wed 13-Feb-13 14:26:21

My dd is in year 2 and has just started doing big writing. The teacher sends home a slip of paper on a Monday with the title for the week's big write and a few questions such as what will happen? What wow words will you use? Etc. we then get til Friday to talk about it and they do the big write on the Friday. Wondering if your dd's teacher could give you the title in advance so that your dd has a plan in her head of what she's going to do and how she's going to start.

It may be that she has some issues with ADD and/or short term memory/working memory. Try googling to look at symptoms. If you think it sound like your DD you could pursue it via your GP.

When she next does homework, try sitting next to her while she does it. As soon as she starts to "go off" prompt her. Try a physical prompt (touch on hand or shoulder) as well as a verbal one. See how she copes doing it like this but spend no longer than 30 mins. Let the teacher know what you did and how DD coped/didn't cope. You could also describe this to your GP.

You need to stop dictating her work. If she can't cope when you have written bullet points, send what she has done into school with your bullet points and a note for the teacher explaining.

LIZS Wed 13-Feb-13 14:12:54

then you decide when she can sit down quietly for 15 minutes - preferably after a snack and something fun to relax her (1/2 hour on Wii perhaps) - go through the homework , discuss what it is asking for, how she might reply and let her get on with it . After 15 minutes she has a break. Repeat for however long it is supposed to take. Put away and make a note in her homework book or diary. I'm sure you have the best of intentions dictating but she isn't learning anything from that and the teacher thinks she can produce that quality and quantity in the time allowed - hence the comment to wrote more. Not that the comment is especially helpful unless she sits down and they discuss it further ie. you could expand this idea to include because or describe the monster more etc. In the Big Write could she start by writing herself a list of questions so each sentence is a response to - where is it set, why are they there, what does it look like or would teacher print off a sheet along those lines?

CinnabarRed Wed 13-Feb-13 14:10:58

Has she been assessed for ADHD? I don't know much about it, but I understand that girls with ADHD often present as dreamers and drifters, rather than hyper-physical can't-sit-still types. Which is one reason why girls are significantly under diagnosed.

katalex Wed 13-Feb-13 14:07:44

How is telling her to write more going to help when she doesn't know what to write? I really hope that's not all her teacher is going to suggest, otherwise she is going to have a miserable rest of the year.

katalex Wed 13-Feb-13 14:05:46

Unfortunately rewards don't motivate her. I have tried saying things like she can't play in the snow until her homework is done and she still sits there telling me she can't do it. It makes weekends miserable and I work full time so it feels like a waste of half a day trying to get homework done when we should be spending time together having fun.

Floggingmolly Wed 13-Feb-13 14:03:59

How else could the teacher have addressed it other than by telling her she wasn't writing enough? confused. The solution is already implicit in that - write more.

WowOoo Wed 13-Feb-13 13:59:23

They can concentrate better at home though. No noisy classrooms and fewer distractions.

But hide remote controls for Wii and TV!
No sneaking away and no fun til something's done.

katalex Wed 13-Feb-13 13:58:58

When she's not paying attention, prompting doesn't really help. She's already lost interest and got fed up and won't do any more.

Bullet points don't help - she says she doesn't know what to write.

She gets distracted doing anything. I can ask her 3 times to brush her teeth and she will say she didn't hear me ask. I could ask her to get something from her room and she will be up there for 10 minutes doing something completely different.

WowOoo Wed 13-Feb-13 13:57:47

I completely agree with LIZS.
If I help with written work I always put a post it on 'done with a lot of support/some support'.
Sometimes when the results are poor, I'll put 'done independently and he struggled'.

I read somewhere on Mnet about going to them and making them stop what you're doing. It was an expert and a talk about homework and parenting - search for it; it's so useful.

If she has homework over a week, it might be better to do say 4 lots of 10 mins rather than half an hour.

It is so hard, isn't it? Good luck. Ds1 has some research to do later and has to write that up. Should be fun.... grin

katalex Wed 13-Feb-13 13:53:55

I always assumed the teachers would know that she got a lot of help with homework considering she produces so little on her own at school. If I was going to stop helping her then I will need to warn the teacher that she is very likely to get a blank page back every Monday. Also, if the teacher tells her off for not writing enough in class then wouldn't she be more cross with her for not doing any of her homework?

I agree with what Liz says.
When you say "she goes off into a daydream and it is hard to get her back" do you know what is hard about it? If you keep prompting"Ok - what is next" what happens?

I see you've already tried writing down her ideas. How would she do if you asked her to write a sentence for each bullet point you had put down.

Does she go off in a daydream when doing anything else eg maths, practical things like getting ready for bed/brushing teeth?

katalex Wed 13-Feb-13 13:49:56

That's interesting about auditory processing LIZS. I wonder if she does have an issue with that. I can be standing very close talking to her and she hasn't heard a word that I have said. I can also call her name several times whilst being in the same room and end up shouting at her for ignoring me. She always says that she hasn't heard me. I guess this is probably when there is a distraction like tv or computer. The other day a delivery man knocked on the door while I was in the bathroom. She said she didn't hear it. she was playing on the Wii but it wasn't loud at all.

Good idea about breaking down the task into chunks.

LIZS Wed 13-Feb-13 13:45:52

Sorry but you need to stop helping her so much with the homework . It is giving the teacher a false impression of her capability which is what her classwork is being compared to.

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