Strategies for demotivated boy - loss of playtime

(35 Posts)
fruitstick Tue 22-Jan-13 21:06:22

Can I have some advice please.

I started a thread in AIBU over the weekend about the standoff over DS's homework

However, I could do with some advice overall.

DS is 7 & in Y2. He's bright (predicted L3s) and is a very active boy. Has always struggled with sitting still etc, although much better as he gets older.

There have been issues with him finishing his work at school. He is not finding it hard, nor is he being particularly disruptive, he is just not doing the work. He's easily distracted an doesn't like to miss out on anything else that's going on.

His teacher (who I really like) has taken to keeping him in at break or lunch to finish his work. She hopes it will give him incentive to get his work done. She is also worried about SATS tests as he won't finish the tests in time, even though he is working at a high level.

I've been fully supportive of all of this and tried to reinforce it at home.

However, it's not working.

Now DS is complaining that no one will play with him and he doesn't care about break time. I think this is because once he gets outside, everyone has already teamed up for games etc and are in full swing.

He is becoming more miserable. He's always been a popular, confident boy.

I want to speak to his teacher about the break time thing but don't want to undermine what she is trying to do, or be all PFB about my little angel.

I would like to offer some alternative suggestions but not sure how this would go down.

Any thoughts?

cansu Tue 22-Jan-13 22:05:41

Maybe the fact that he is complaining indicates that the strategy is working and he would now like you to back off the strategy as he is finding it annoying. Children often say they don't care when they do!

fruitstick Tue 22-Jan-13 22:11:44

The thought had crossed my mind. He can be quite manipulative when he wants to be.

Normally I can see straight through him - maybe he's just upped his game grin

fruitstick Tue 22-Jan-13 22:23:39

Part of me also thinks he's after some kind of reward system so he can get a new Skylander every week!

OctoAlert Tue 22-Jan-13 22:28:56

Missed play time can't continue long term and is not healthy in any sense.
The SATs tests aid teacher assessment - lots of schools have scrapped them altogether. (It goes on the teachers' overall judgement of where a child is at, not an "exam" on one day).

I would suggest a meeting with the teacher to ask ideas for motivation, reachable targets and appropriate rewards and sanctions. Your son is doing well, honest, it will come in time smile

PolterGoose Wed 23-Jan-13 10:13:30

They need to help him find strategies to reduce distraction so he can complete the work. Has the teacher considered moving where he sits, maybe to face away from the majority or opposite a very studious head down sort of child? A fidget toy can help with distraction, if he has it in his non-writing hand to fiddle with while he writes with the other. Does he get bothered by lights, noise, sound, smells? Does he struggle to sit still?

fruitstick Wed 23-Jan-13 10:25:56

He has always struggled to sit still - it has always been his thing.

I have considered a wobble cushion in the past but worried the teacher would think I was a loon.

He is VERY easily distracted. We have been trying to encourage this at home with meccano, Lego etc but it is a battle.

I'm conscious he's only 6 but I don't want him to get dispirited at school because he can't do what is expected.

fruit you could be describing my DS who is now 8 in Y3, very active, fairly bright (consistently works with Y4 groups in mixed year class) but finds it very hard to sit still and concentrate on the task in hand.
I'm not sure that taking away break is a long term answer though as IME he needs to run around and get rid of energy.
It also sounds like this method is starting to single him out and isolate him, which again is not great, and I agree with the poster who said he probably does care about this. DS had his picture on the wall with crosses and ticks and he hated that (so did I!).
I think you should talk it over with his teacher, explain to her his feelings about it and come up with another strategy - that way you don't undermine her but you show you are trying to work with her. If he is after a new Skylander (my son is just that Machiavellian) then why not? - but make the points towards the reward build up over it 2 weeks or a month, that way you are slowly building up to the reward and he has plenty of chance to get into new habits. His teacher could let you know when he has finished a piece of work well.
At home I also suggest trying puzzles (both puzzle books and actual puzzles) as well as Lego/ Mecchano type things.

fruitstick Wed 23-Jan-13 10:58:27

Thanks Sam, that's good to know.

I've made a chart for him this morning which has a points system. He gets points for completing tasks.

Getting dressed in 3 minutes (he often wanders off with just his trousers on) -2pts

Doing all schoolwork without losing break time -5pts

Completing homework task - 10 points

Wildcard random task - 2pts.

Skylander figure I reckon should be 150 points.

Magazine -50 points

Skylanders cards - 25 points.

Do you think that will work? Or is it just making more of an issue about things?

Catsdontcare Wed 23-Jan-13 11:03:53

I think if he had issues with attention then keeping him in at break time long term won't solve anything. I would ask for a meeting with the teacher to work on strategies to aid his attention. Missing play is an aid to getting work finished but doesn't address the issue of attention.

Catsdontcare Wed 23-Jan-13 11:07:39

I'm not a big fan of reward charts I just don't think they work that well, also if he has a genuine struggle with attention then a chart is just there to map his failure.

Rewards are fine but need to be much more immediate (maybe balls in a jar that he can see building up. So "we'll done you got dressed here's a ball for your jar) when the jar is full he gets a reward.

Catsdontcare Wed 23-Jan-13 11:09:20

For homework I would have a reward for then end such as extra tv time or playing a board game with you. Whatever you think will motivate to get to the end of homework!

Catsdontcare Wed 23-Jan-13 11:10:56

I think you should agree with the teacher some sort of system she can use in class to help motivate him (stickers/special job etc)

PolterGoose Wed 23-Jan-13 11:28:53

Ask to see the SENCO and discuss your concerns. A wobble cushion could be all that is needed. If you buy one for home you could say to school how well it has worked and how much quicker he has done his homework so perhaps they could give it a try?

PickledApples Wed 23-Jan-13 12:33:52

Does he have a timer at all? Something like this?

Also consider his diet - is he drinking enough? Does he have any foods that don't agree with him? Is he 'regular'? Agreed that break and expending energy is needed - not to be taken away. He's Year 2 not Year 6! Can't understand why SATs were mentioned either.

fruitstick Wed 23-Jan-13 13:29:04

I tried a timer this morning for getting dressed but it didn't make a blind bit of difference.

He eats well, although he is far more sensitive to sugar than his brother, so I try to limit sweets etc.

I actually have no idea whether he's regular or not. That's bad isn't it blush

He has never drunk enough and I do try to make him, but if he had his way he'd leave in the morning without drinking anything. I'm not sure how much he drinks at school.

Crikey he is my son! <<checks isn't caught in timewarp>>
I wouldn't over complicate the points, makes more work for you, in the past I have done "get 20 points over the course of 2 weeks", I gave points for getting dressed without being reminded (or being reminded 5 times instead of 50), working well at school and I was the judge of what a reminder was - sometimes a breezy "oo you're not far off getting a point for that" was the nudge needed to make him stoop plotting world takeover with a power ranger and get dressed. Be generous with the points and help him succeed, and I think it will help if you to decide which bit you want him to crack first - school work, or getting dressed etc, as it will not happen overnight and trying to do it all at once could set him up for failure. I carried the points in my head - so did he.
cats I agree a strict reward chart for daily tasks can be hard, and can backfire. (Yes DS2 I am thinking of you with your demands for gifts before you will go to bed.)
Talk to his teacher, do they have a traffic light system? If so perhaps he gets a point from you for ending the day on green/ on the sun/ whatever they use.

fruitstick Wed 23-Jan-13 14:07:20

You're right - the simpler the better.

His other issue is that he has always struggled with his sleep. He finds it very difficult to wind down and in the past it has been awful. When he was younger, we tried reward charts but they never worked as we could never get him to get his first sticker, so he just gave up bothering.

Hopefully this might work.

I'm off to drawer a totaliser on the kitchen notice board grin

fruitstick Wed 23-Jan-13 14:08:39

I've also emailed his teacher expressing my concerns and asking for a meeting. I've tried to be as much 'you know best, how can I help' as I can be whilst at the same time suggesting we could come up with a different solution.

I've also ordered him a wobble cushion.

takemehometoauntem Wed 23-Jan-13 17:29:07

Hello fruitstick. We have the same going on here, I'm afraid if you look into your schools policies I'm sure the staying in at breaktime/ lunchtimes will be covered somewhere. My son has been struggling with the same things as you describe including the no friends scenario, I was called in so many times last year because his SATS were around the corner, watched him go from being a happy bubbly chappy to a pasty faced anxious snappy little boy (sad). Sadly it is the same this year, he is still being kept in at breaktimes/ lunchtimes for either not completing his work or being rude ( and from what he tells me being rude is saying no to finishing his work confused ), he has always found it hard to complete work in a given time frame and we are told that he completes the work during class time but our son has finally ( he thought we would be cross if he told us last year which added to his anxiety) started to tell us when he finishes school what he didn't finish and when he had to finish it...so far this week he has failed to complete work in 4 lessons, missed watching a dvd (which was in place of swimming), had to work through his art lesson (something which he really enjoys therefore wouldn't purposely miss for the sake of not doing other work), 2 breaktimes and 1 lunchbreak and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it (have spoken to teacher and head they simply agree with what I say about the fresh air etc and then carry on doing it either way). And there's his teachers wondering why he shows no enthusiasm in his lessons??
We asked him why he still doesn't finish his work in lesson and his answer was because I'm lazy, thats what every teacher I have had apart from Miss x (nursery teacher) says shock, No type of intervention has worked so far but so long as he doesn't get to the point he was last year I will just concentrate on keeping him as relaxed and happy at home as possible.

takemehometoauntem Wed 23-Jan-13 17:31:12

Oh forgot to add my son is now in year 3

fruitstick Wed 23-Jan-13 17:38:03

Hmm, that's definitely what I don't want.

We have a new head who I really like and he seems quite open to 'creative' solutions.

If the teacher doesn't help I may try him.

mummytime Wed 23-Jan-13 17:40:58

My kids school actually takes kids outside for a run when they have been sitting still too long, eg after assembly. I would also suggest trying ear plugs etc.

I would also point out year 2 SATs are her problem not his. (But I am bolshy.)

fruitstick Wed 23-Jan-13 17:49:03

Ear plugs grin now why didn't I think of that grin

Slams head on keyboard!

takemehometoauntem Wed 23-Jan-13 18:00:23

like the ear plug idea! my sons problem is he seems to notice things that most wouldn't. eg a teacher walked past the window one day and she had her hair in a pony tail which he said was hilarious because it looked like she had a dog stuck to the back of her head (in all honesty I would probably of noticed it too grin! I asked him if anyone else saw it he said no only me, I asked him what he did he said sat laughing and then got in trouble with his teacher. It does sometimes make me wonder if its the teaching style being used at the times when he isn't completing his work...hence looking around for something more interesting to focus on.

neolara Wed 23-Jan-13 18:05:54

Have your tried asking your ds why he won't concentrate and complete the work? Try and do it in a very non-confrontational / non judgemental manner. Something like "You know what, I'm a bit confused about what's going on and I'd really like to understand. Your teacher says you often don't finish your work and I'm just wondering what that's all about (Don't ask "why". Kids this age don't get "why' questions.) Is it because you find the work hard, it's difficult to sit still, it's boring, other kids don't like you if you work hard etc (or whatever you think might be a possibility). Often I think parents and teachers go down one route (e.g. it must be distractability) but it can be due to something completely different. Sometimes really trying to understand the kids view point can be a good place to start.

thegreylady Wed 23-Jan-13 18:41:47

Is he 7 as you said in OP or 6 as you said at 10:25:56 ? I ask because it matters as if he is already 7 he is at the older end of the year group and should be 'settling' to work by now whereas if he is only 6 then,depending on his birthday, he may still be a little immature and finding it hard to cope with the transition from yr1.
I agree with neolara that talking to him + a reward chart may be the way to go.

Harleyband Wed 23-Jan-13 19:20:37

Could have been my DS too except that his school understood that 6 yo boys can have trouble sitting still and keeping on task so they had wiggle cushions and fidget toys standard in the classroom and they let my DS wander when he needed to wander (provided he didn't disrupt anyone else). We were kept informed but never at any time was it insinuated that he a problem child. He outgrew it, now is 10, rushes to get his homework done every night and loves school. Oh, and the school doesn't do any standardized tests...yes, it's private and worth every penny based on what I've been reading here!

Floggingmolly Wed 23-Jan-13 19:29:08

Saying no when asked to finish his work is rude, takemehome.
Why would you think otherwise?

fruitstick Wed 23-Jan-13 23:34:46

He's 6 but about to be 7 in a few weeks. So mid-year really.

I've told him that I'm going to see his teacher and that I will help him with whatever the issue is. So if he finds the work too hard, we can help. If he's too distracted, we can find a way to help that too, or if it's an issue with his friends, that's also solvable.

I'm sure he's fine really, and not at all out of the ordinary. I just want his teacher to not just put him on the default 'lose playtime' setting.

takemehometoauntem Thu 24-Jan-13 10:55:38

Floggingmolly 12 months ago and endless failed attempts to help my son to complete his work, most of which are suggested in the posts above, I would of agreed that it was rude, but knowing what I now know, No I would not say for him to react in that way was rude I would say he has given up. I believe he genuinely struggles completing his work in lesson time, he has been punished for this same thing now for 2 1/2 years if it was just down to him being defiant and stubborn he would of given up by now and set too. My son does not happily choose to lose something that he likes for the sake of something he doesn't..he will just do it. When he was 5 1/2 he was told that a piece of completed work was disgusting and the best place for it was the bin. Now watching him do his homework is gutting he spends all of his time writing as neatly as he can (which in itself is very time consuming) and he is devastated if he gets something wrong even if he knows he can rub it out and correct it. Can you imagine the pressure my son is under in every lesson? complete your work **, make sure its neat and tidy **, check your spellings **, we do not shout and scream in class if we get something wrong you are disrupting the rest of the class go to time out-followed by now complete your work (in even less time), share the rubber between the other 5 class mates on the table **, I can because I know him but sadly I am just his mum not a trained Educational Psychologist.

mummytime Thu 24-Jan-13 11:48:14

Takemehome that behaviour by a teacher was disgusting. You poor poor son. Is he getting help from the school, do they acknowledge he has problems?

If not I would be looking around for an alternative for him.

These stories are heart breaking. Children of 5, 6, 7, 8 etc canbe distracted, they can alo sometimes lack the sophistication to frame their responses in such a way as to NOT seem rude.

Good schools and teachers I know, can encourage and teach children without crashing them or continually punishing them.

takemehometoauntem Thu 24-Jan-13 13:49:45

mummytime Thankyou for not instantly deciding that I am a pig ignorant Worlds Worst Mother smile. I only found out about what was said by the teacher a year ago, and what my son said was pretty much confirmed in my mind when I was given information which tied said teacher in with working with him around that time although I was not aware as the teacher was not his class teacher or classroom TA, in fact I am quite sure she is outside help (I need to find out about that). Yes he is on SA+ for BESD, currently under assessment with camhs for ASD but he isn't having any additional help with school work other than that from the teacher because he has been assessed by an EP and he came out as being more than capable but lacking motivation, hmm wonder why that could be?? therefore my son wont be treated any different than any other. His teacher has actually told me that my son doesn't do most of his work because he "can't be bothered" backing up the whole "lazy" label he has given himself. I am just waiting at the moment to find out if there is something causing his difficulties which fingers crossed wont be much longer and then my husband and I will sit down and decide what we are going to do either look elsewhere or get the big guns out.

mummytime Thu 24-Jan-13 16:22:04

You might want to read Myth of Laziness there is a second hand copy for 6p or a Kindle version on Amazon, or I borrowed it from the library. When I read it a while ago it was before my son was diagnosed with Dyslexia, and I actually am a huge fan now, the basic premise is that there is a reason why children are reluctant to learn. Dealing with this reason is needed, not just shouting at them not to be lazy.

takemehometoauntem Mon 28-Jan-13 12:14:47

Have just ordered Myth of Laziness mummytime, can't wait to have a read! smile

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