First parents evening :-(

(37 Posts)
naturemama Thu 14-Nov-13 06:42:45

Hi, this is my first post here - I just needed to come and vent and hopefully get se advice and reassurance from anyone else who may be feeling the same.

I'm a single mum, my son will be 5 in January. I've always thought e was fairly bright, he has been able to count well from a you gave, knows the alphabet and all the sounds and letters, since being at school he has learnt all his words coming home within a few days and can read to me basic books like The Red Hen (biff chip and kipper, amongst others) and he can tell the time, however I've always had a bit of a struggle to get him to write. At pre school they said don't worry about it, some kids just aren't that into writing so I've just encouraged him to make marks, using chalks outside, attempting to get him to colour (he's quite scribbly and often hurries to finish), we've always got wallpaper and paints outside for him to access whenever and lots more different media that e can experiment with.

So I get to parents evening (already feeling like a bit of a failure being the only person without a partner there, so perhaps already a tad over sensitive!) and they say he's doing OK, he comes up with some of the best sentences in class and it's clear that e has lovely experiences at home, which he talks about. Then they said he doesn't like boisterous play (as of this is the worst thing ever) so I say ok, he's never really been massive on rough and tumble, then they say he's quite mature for his age, which makes me feel dreadful as he's an only child and we live with my mother and I would so love for him to have a constant playmate in a brother or sister, however he does have lots of cousins who he mixes with regularly. Then they start on the writing, they make suggestions that I do the things I already do, then suggest getting a writing claw, they then say that it is probably because he doesn't have swimming lessons!? He does go swimming, he doesn't have lessons and we perhaps haven't been as much as I'd like, so I'm feeling quite bad about that. I said he has his name on the list to start lessons when he's 5 in Jamuary, but I was conscious of overloading him with activities at the start of school so had held off. They said, well they do have lessons for 4 year olds! (Which I looked at before and cannot afford, even as a working single mum!) they basically said he doesn't have the strength in his arms to control a pencil, but also said they hadn't noticed anything in PE. Then when I got home to buy the pencil grips it says for children with autism and special needs which I guess kind of three me a bit.

Has anyone else been here and helped their child through this and come out the other side? I understand it is a relatively small deal rigt now and I had kind of just put it down to him being a boy and jut not being rest yet. I thought he was doing so well in other areas that perhaps one area may naturally suffer to start with just while he gets used to it all but they made it sound like he's abnormal and slow.

I'm probably being over sensitive, you know what it's like when it seems like someone is criticising your parenting or child's abilities and I know it's their job to bring it to my attention, I guess I was just a bit surprised and they didn't seem to give me much positive. Also, they haven't even started on numbers yet which I was surprised at as friends with kids in other schools have been doing numbers and letters.

Sorry if this is a jumbled mess, I've barely slept all night and needed to get this out. I've been looking up arm exercises and more activities that I can do to help him which we will be starting today.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! x

naturemama Thu 14-Nov-13 06:43:47

I should have previewed that, apologies. Typing on an iPhone with no sleep has done some interesting things to that post.

RandomMess Thu 14-Nov-13 06:47:16

Aw bless - big hugs.

Surely he just needs to practice fine motor skills? So play dough, rubbing up fat to make scone dough that kind of thing? Also the pencil grips are great for any child learning to write!!!

His maturity may have nothing to do with living with just your and your mum probably far more to do with him not liking rough play so has focussed on other areas.

Misfitless Thu 14-Nov-13 06:52:31

It all seems a bit extreme to me naturemama! If they suspect he has some sort of special educational needs (physical) they should be openly discussing this I would have thought. And swimming.. [confused.)

naturemama Thu 14-Nov-13 06:58:36

Thankyou both for replying - I know, the swimming the I was just sat there like '...really!?' We have an open spiral staircase at home that he swings off like a little monkey and he's never had any physical problems with movement and does other activities like football club, we have a trampoline that he's been confident on since he was at least 3. He can paint lovely too.

Misfitless Thu 14-Nov-13 06:58:40

I agree with Randommess about playdough and big hugs! And it seems to me that it's the school being a little insensitive rather than you being over sensitive. My DS was very reluctant to write anything in recepetion, I had to have a word with the teacher and explain why he wasn't doing it as making him do written homework really stressed him out. I appreciate that's it almost impossible to not worry with comments like that, but tbh the teacher seems a bit over the top. There'll be some reception teachers on here I'm sure. Is the class teacher a newly qualified teacher, do you know?

I would say try not to worry so much.

Very strange that they (who is they by the way? Was it just his class teacher or a group of people?) brought swimming into it? Are you sure they were not just suggesting it as a way to build up arm strength?

Sounds like you are doing lots of lovely things already, just keep at it, with a focus on building up his arm strength and also his fine motor control.

The pencil grips help all children, don't read too much into it with regards to special needs.

catchingzeds Thu 14-Nov-13 07:00:40

Bless you! It's all fine and a very common issue. Firstly it's gross motor skills that need working on to improve handwriting; swimming, monkey bars at the park etc.
I think you had a difficult evening for 2 reasons, you're feeling sensitive about being a single parent and perhaps the teacher could have explained themselves better.

It sounds as if you're DS is doing really well! My year 3 DS still can't tell the time grin
Take their advice and up the visits to the pool and local parks other than that you're doing more than enough to support your child.

mavi5davi5 Thu 14-Nov-13 07:02:31

You poor thing, I was in your situation 3 years ago, it turns out my son is hypermobile, he didn't start to write until the very end of year one, this was mainly due to the hyper mobility but also because he just wasn't interested, he was more of a reader, but his maths, English etc was way beyond that of his peers. He has special classes now at school to help with his fine motor skills an is coming on in leaps and bounds, he is now 7! Have a word with his teacher about the possibility of hypermobilty, before they completely write him off. If they don't find anything don't worry, some children just excel in other areas, maybe he just isn't interested in writing. Hope you get some answers soon smile

catchingzeds Thu 14-Nov-13 07:02:52

Yes a few children in my DS's class use the pencil grips no issues just used to improve writing.

Yes the teacher does sound very insensitive, but they were probably also rushed for time, having only ten minutes to talk about each child. Not all teachers are good at doing parent evenings either, some just are not good at talking to parents, think of it that way, perhaps they just didn't do a very good parent's evening, rather than it being a problem with your DS.

The writing sounds quite normal for a boy of his age, I'm sure he will get it eventually, he's only been in school about 9 weeks!

naturemama Thu 14-Nov-13 07:07:27

They aren't NQTs and he has 2 as they job share. They'd had him try and wrote his name that day so they could show an example and I know he doesn't have a great hold on the pencil yet and doesn't seem to press hard enough when using pencils so it's all quite faint. He clearly makes the Z and the ach are less legible but he tries. To be honest having 2 of them there kind of felt like I was being ganged up on, and they were both quite vague and airy fairy, one asking the other 'have you noticed anything in PE' the other 'noooo not that I've noticed' the other 'ooooh' they also said oh he has made SOME friends. When I know full well he has actually made more than a few friends who he has also spent time with out of school already.

catchingzeds Thu 14-Nov-13 07:09:30

Didn't really say that I think his writing sounds normal too and I wish I hadn't used the word issue. It's really not at this age, writing skills will vary massively in a year R class,

naturemama Thu 14-Nov-13 07:11:23

Thank you all for your replies! I really appreciate it. Feeling more positive already.

And I'm honestly not as illiterate as my phone would like to make out I am!

naturemama Thu 14-Nov-13 07:12:36

(He's also had supply teachers quite a few days already)

SoupDragon Thu 14-Nov-13 07:19:29

Isn't "he's quite mature for his age" a positive?? Certainly when DS2 got the opposite it was a negative grin

SatinSandals Thu 14-Nov-13 07:20:43

I read it and thought it was a lovely parents evening with lots of positives! Try and see it in proportion and not dwell on the one negative.
My son was very like that, it is very common, especially with boys. I was also a lone parent, that again is very common.
I would get him doing things with his hands, using play dough and really squeezing it and pummelling it. Cooking as RandomMess said. Making big letters in sand etc.

ICameOnTheJitney Thu 14-Nov-13 07:29:00

I'll just say...my DD had those grips, she hasn't got any special needs or Autism...she was just a bit slower to write well...because she was FIVE! grin Don't lose sight of the fact that here in the UK we expect more of our children earlier than ANY other country in Europe...other places start them at seven!

My DD is 9 now and has the writing of an angel and she's in the top 10% for reading and spelling. He sounds marvelous your son....they almost always have a negative...let it go like water off a duck's back and focus on the great things they noticed.

NynaevesSister Thu 14-Nov-13 07:31:46

I was going to say same as another poster. I'd thought my son just didn't like drawing etc so felt awful when found out hyper mobility meant he couldn't put pressure on or grip the pencil. Also he had low muscle tone and this was particularly noticeable in arms and legs. He's had pencil grips too and he's not autistic.

The maturity thing is a positive not a negative! Trust me this is his natural personality. My son is an only child and very immature for his age. Develop a thick skin now! People love to make you feel that everything is because he is an only. Too mature, too immature! My son is a resistant eater - no it isn't because he is an only as every person I meet says (I have two older step children both now in their twenties). There's a mum in a support group I belong to with five kids and number four won't eat anything except marmite sandwiches. She's made to feel by people that it is because he has too many siblings!

As a mum everything we do is wrong so the best thing is to learn to filter out the judgy ones.

AuditAngel Thu 14-Nov-13 07:31:57

A lot of what you are saying could be my DS. He is an August baby, we joke that he was born an old man, he doesn't always speak like a child, likes a cup of tea (we don't but Granny does!)

DS is in year 5, early in y4 he was tested as borderline dyslexic. He is still. Lw reluctant writer, but the acknowledgement of the problems he has (he can't "see" how to spell in his head so spells phonetically which takes longer, his written work scores lower than his target levels, his reading and comprehension are above the level for his age) and a fabulous teacher last year have really changed his attitude to writing.

Even in Year 2 his teacher was saying he's just a late writer, it will come, don't worry.

DS also sometimes uses a pencil grip, it makes the pencil fatter and often a little bit softer.

He is still very young.

insanityscratching Thu 14-Nov-13 07:33:02

You need to ask school (or your GP if school are unable to) to refer him to an occupational therapist who will advise on grips or other aids to help your ds. They will also provide you and school with an exercise programme to improve his core stability which I assume is what the teachers were recommendng swimming lessons for.Dd does three twenty minute sessions per week in school with a TA and the difference is amazing. At ds's age she used pencil grips and a writing slope now at ten she can easily write a side of A4 with no help and no slower or untidier than her peers.

strruglingoldteach Thu 14-Nov-13 07:35:58

I also saw lots of positives in your OP. He is mature, comes up with great sentences and has lots to talk about. Not liking rough and tumble play is neither positive nor negative- it's just a personality thing. I don't really know why they felt the need to point it out!

As for the writing, what you describe is very normal for reception. Many children will be at the same stage at this point. Keep doing what you're doing- encourage mark making, give him all sorts of pens/pencils/Chalks etc to experiment with. Play dough is good as mentioned above, and cutting/sticking- anything needing fine motor control.

Don't panic though. You don't want to put him under any pressure or let him see that you feel a bit anxious. He will get there in his own time, and the more fun and relaxed it is, the better.

Turquoiseblue Thu 14-Nov-13 07:37:03

Hi there, all sounds withint re realms if normal. Try not to worry.
Firstly - fine motor skills are pencil grip, using fingers etc - so activities like posting coins (into piggy bank) play dough, wringing out cloths, making scones (rubbing butter into flour ) pinching - so rolling doing or making shapes with fingers, playing with Lego, playing games shadow games with hands, dong buttons/ zips etc all involve fine Motor skills that will help writing and pencil grip.
Gross motor are the larger movements like swimming, climbing crawling walking etc
It s possible your DS needs to strengthen the muscles around his core so he can hold his posture and stability and control the rest of his body so he can write.
Swimming helps as it strengthens the shoulder girdle.
It s not that he needs swimming lessons to write ! There are lots of other activities that will strengthen the shoulders and upper limbs too.
Wheel barrow races, animal games (where he pretends to be an animal crawling on all fours) Simon says (imitate postures on all 4s) handstands, tumbles, cartwheels, all tae Kwon do, tennis lots of other activities will also work on stability and strength.
It doesn't sound like your da has a massive problem,
It sounds like he needs a bit of practice at writing.
The teacher was suggesting activities that work on stuff needed or writing. He s is young yet and it will come and improve. My DS was terrible at writing last year- and had no interest, but has improved massively ( we didn't do much either tbh) time as natural development and offering lots of opportunities and schoolwork (nothing additional) helped it.
I wouldn't be overly worried. Take what the teacher said (they re not therapists but have some great knowledge and have you the suggestions to help his weaker area). Continue what you re doing and maybe focus on specific pen skills too- writing on blackboard tracing etc and give lots of encouragement smile
Go back to the teacher in 4-5 months and see if it s improved.
I don't think you re sensitive just a concerned parent doing their best wanting to give thei child the best. Hope it all helps.

ImagineJL Thu 14-Nov-13 07:40:15

I really wouldn't worry. He's only young, so much changes at this stage.

DS1 is an August born child, so I deferred his school start as I didn't feel he was ready in September. So at the point your son is at he hadn't even started school! He is now top of the class (year 4) in most areas, despite the dire warnings I had from all the teachers that by missing the first term he would NEVER catch up with his peers. So really, I don't think the first term of reception has a huge impact on the eventual outcome.

DS2 is in reception. He can't hold a pen properly at all, and has no interest in drawing and colouring. He is also far less able in terms of literacy than your son, but no concerns were raised at his parents evening recently.

I know exactly what you mean about being a single parent, as I'm one too. I live in a small village, and I can only think of one other single parent at the school. I always feel, on these occasions, that I'm very alone, with no one to stand on "my team". I also feel I have much more to prove, because I worry that people will automatically assume my boys will be disadvantaged and badly brought up! I know it sounds silly, but it's easy for a bit of paranoia to creep in when you see those united couples looking proudly at the child's work.

And don't get me started on swimming lessons! Since when did swimming for young kids stop being about fun, and start being about being yelled at by gobby instructors and being forced to do front crawl?! I take my boys swimming when I can, maybe once every few weeks, and they love it, just jumping around and messing about in the water. I know my kids. If I made them have lessons it would be a chore for them.

PandaG Thu 14-Nov-13 07:40:26

yes, pencil grips ARE used for children with additional needs, but they are also used lots for children whose need is simply to improve their grip.

Sounds to me as though you are already doing all sorts of the right things with him, and his grip and handwriting will improve with time. smile

Honestly that parents evening sounds pretty positive to me, I think you are being a little sensitive, and the teachers should have been a bit more careful in how they put their opinions over.

Please enjoy your lovely sounding son, who can already read some books, has made friends, and is mature, has an excellent vocabulary, and is well supported out of the classroom x

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