4 year old unhappy at school(34 Posts)
I've a 4 Year old DS who has always has problems integrating with other kids, impulse control issues, difficulty following instruction other than on a one to one level, has no real sense of authority. Since he started school - a private one- they have kept him in the preschool to help with routine but his behaviours has really not improved. They think he is unhappy and are very worried about his behaviour in the playground where he basically runs around pushing other kids. I've been on many occasions to suggest ways of encouraging him to take part ( not easy) but feel they are not listening. They also have made NO effort at all to keep him occupied at playtime, not easy at a state school granted but would expect even a week of trying to get into good relationships with other kids. I'm ally not sure where to go with this...they have asked for help from LA but that may take a while and I feel like everyday is a struggle. Apart from this he is very bright, very keen to learn and actually quite advanced for his age with problem solving , numbers, reading etc but none of this counts as his behaviour is so challenging. I'm just don't really know where tomgo next....should I change school, give up work, get a psychologist involved,
This does sound a bit like he might be on the ASD spectrum (DNephew is, it sounds rather familiar). I'm sure some other posters will be along very soon with more concrete advice.
Also it may be worth having a browse around the Special Needs area of this site. You need to specifically opt in to it, instructions are in My Mumsnet, I think, or maybe in My Registration.
Thanks I'll have a look, have thought about ASD but communication is good - only with adults though not his peer group..thank you though
It sounds to me as if your little boy needs more time with children, playing, and that keeping him in pre-school is a good idea, as it sounds like social learning is his greatest need. What you could do if you want to help him is arrange to have children to play at your house from school to help to develop some friendships. Unless his behaviour is extreme, it is relatively normal for a four year old to be self-centred. I am unsure where your child is when you make the distinction between state and private school, but actually generally speaking Special Needs Provision, if he really has special needs, is very good in the State sector but requires assessment and the provision of a statement by a team of professionals. However, the pre-school even if private should be offereing him support in making social relations, because at 4 the most important learning for all children is social, and the best pre-school or nursery for your child would understand that. I am assuming that he has spent alot of time with adults which is why he knows how to socialise with them, what he needs is time to learn skills to socialise with children. So my advice to you, is don't worry to much, take him to parks and playgroups when he isn't at school and invite some other children round to your house to play. If he behaves inappropriately when they are there, deal with it firmly and clearly and explain that the other children do not like it.
Because I work it's difficult to have children around after school, but we do try to see friends with kids at the weekend. He has a younger brother who is 2 and they are starting to play together but he gets very frustrated with him (!) so we talk a lot about trying to explain to the younger one about taking turns and sharing etc etc so I think this is helping at home. It just seems to be in groups of children he can't seem to think how or what to play....he has always needed to be 'taught' socially rather than it being instinctive so should we be asking the school to try and 'teach' games or things to do at playtime. Their attitude is well next year it might be 40/50 kids on their own so he needs to get n with it but I think maybe they should try a bit harder this year in preparation for that !
A private school is unlikely to get the support of a Local Authority. If SEN provision is needed, you'll be likely to have pay for it.
If you genuinely think he may have SEN of some sort, then you might be better to try and find a sympathetic state primary who can meet his needs.
Thanks that's what I've been thinking - does anyone know if SEN can help with a school transfer from private to state? Or if I write to a head he would support a transfer due to SN? Our school applications have closed for this year...but perhaps with LA support we could apply separately ....
If he's already in YR R, then it wouldn't be a school application like you did last year, it would be an 'in-year application' which is processed all year round.
You need to visit your GP and ask for a referral to a developmental paediatrician. From there, once you get an idea of why he is behaving as he is, you'll be able to define his needs.
SEN are unlikely to help you at this stage, unless your current head would consider 'expelling' him and writing a letter explaining his needs - talk to the head and the SEN service in your LA as to how best to go about it.
Ironically we put him in the private school as we thought the small class would be better but have found them rather unsympathetic in trying to help him find a way to connect. They seem to want him to fit with them instead, without any desire to try and find out 'why' ....I must say I've been amazed. His nursery was far more interested and proactive in finding ways to make him happy and settled in his environment. Thanks for your advise here - its really helpful. I was feeling a little like I was going mad just talking to the school.
I thought same on the small school front, and experienced similar behaviour with a reception aged boy. Playtime and any unstructured time has and still does (at 6) prove a recipe for things to get out of hand with him, but he is 'just' boisterous and not SEN. He has moved to a much bigger state school with more opportunities for different friends, and a more structured play area and activities at playtime. he doesn't get the chance to go off-piste at school, adn they engineer social situations in a thoughtful way.
We did an in-year application to year 1 of an 'outstanding' state school and got a place within a week - you'd be surprised - people do move a lot at that age so places do come up. Get and look around your local schools.
What does he do after school? I can see it may be hard to organize but imo he really sounds as though he could use some time with the occasional schoolmate outside the school environment. That would allow him to start building better relationships with them. Could you see other children from school occasionally at weekends?
Now that is good news! We did apply to a great 'good' state school which we ally liked and then turned it down...grrr. the HM seemed inspirational and very clear on being 'inclusive' and never shunning challenging behaviour as they always thought they had ways to help children who might find it tricky to settle. Obviously kicking myself now for making a bad call but at least your message has bucked up my optimism that he might not actually be SEN but might need a different environment with different personalities. Thx youllneedthisfish!
And yes I do agree he needs to spend more time with actual classmates... I did ask if there was someone he wanted over to play and he's come up with one name. Good advise again thx
I am not sure that it is a good idea for him to be kept down in pre-school.I think he is under-stimulated academically there , is being kept with yopunger children who are more easy to push about and not as much fun to play with.
Totally agree and at nursery he was moved to be with older kids specifically for this reason, more preschool learning and bigger kids. But current school basically wanted to mould him so kept him in preschool class...and some of the ds seem quite young (3) and it seems of them dont have much commnication themselves...brought this up in October but yet again was made to feel I was ' making excues' rather than actually informing them of stuff I've already been through with him. I feel they are really truly interested in my opinion as a parent...are other schools like this?
Sorry NOT interested in my opinion!
Kirky, I can't offer direct advice, but just to give you an example of how a 'bad school fit' can affect a child...
DS, at 5, in Year 1 in the first school he went to, had become a selective mute. The SENCo was involved, and brought in an Ed Psych. He also had many 'ASD'-type behaviours - rocking, failure to make social contact with other children etc. Like your DS, he was very academically bright, but the muteness and othger social issues were getting in the way of his learning.
Following a house move and a short period of Home Ed (because he was going downwards fast, and I felt that gave me a good means of stabilising the situation before he went back into school again), DS started at a new school.
Both were state schools, both Ofsted 'Good'. One was small and in a village, the other large and in a prosperous town. The contrast in DS when moving to the new school was extraordinary. He emerged from his first day talking 19 to the dozen (his friends find it absolutely hilarious that he was ever mute, as they have never seen him so), the ASD traits lessened (he is still a child who needs absolutely explicit teaching about e.g. emotions, social norms etc as he does not 'read' them at all, but the tics and the rocking and the hiding under tables all stopped) and he rapidly developed a circle of close friends.
The second school is 'child focused' - it looks at who the child is, and what they need as an individual, first and foremost - not to 'mould ' them to be some uniform 'perfect child', but to be the best that they can possibly be.
So a change of schools could work wonders, and worries about SEN (DS has never been on the SEN register at his new school as they waited to observe how his difficulties showed themselves in his new setting ...and they never did..) may evaporate. If he does have SEN of some kind, then you may find that a good state school can access a wider variety of the help that he will need than a private one may do.
Also look for a school which has playtime buddies or a selection of equipment put out at playtime or clubs / activities run at lunchtimes for those children who find unstructured time hard...all of which are the norm at state schools that I have taught in (I trained after my son went back into school, btw)
You know all of you make so much more sense than the heads at the school, my gut instinct is with you and not that he's a child with significant Sen but that he probably just needs help with the stuff that comes easy to some kids. I'm sure most kids couldn't read to numbers 30 when they were 18 months! he finds all that easy but struggles with practicalities of daily life, to his credit he gets there eventually ....potty training was rather tedious though but all his has made cheered me up that I am not the mad one and it's their teaching which might not fit his needs.
Sometimes what a child who finds social things hard is not the company of younger children who also find these things hard, but the company of older children who can 'model' what is required for him.
Everything DS learned about playground etiquette he learned from the bunch of Year 6s who were willing to let him play football with them ... they were grown up enough to be able to deal with him finding it difficult, and also admirable enough that he WANTED to learn from them
Not much to add, except my dd was in this position before moving into reception (from school nursery). She clicked though with one boy, who was happy to join her in her obsessions. Also the teachers helped organise playground games etc. She also dedicated herself to understanding how friendship worked - it was, at first like a scientific study.
She is now part way through yr 1 and really diversifying in friends. She is still v close to this boy, but they are playing with others too. Even if they do drift apart I will be very greatful to that little boy for teaching dd the art of friendship. It sounds as if you need to start exploring other options, hopefully your ds will find someone to click with.
"She also dedicated herself to understanding how friendship worked - it was, at first like a scientific study. "
Absolutely!! DS used to give me blow by blow instructions about how to carry out what might seem to another child to be 'automatic' tasks 'If you want to join the football game, then you have to go and stand in the corner over there. You have to look in at the other boys all the time, not out or they will think that you're not playing. You have to cheer when a boy comes out with a football etc etc etc'
I don't have any advice apart from that we are in a very similar situation. Our son is very bright but a bit unusual and does not seem able to fit in properly at school. He doesn't seem to respect authority at all and I am regularly having to speak to the school about his behavior. On his own he is really lovely and is very kind to his younger sibling who he loves a lot, but he is so determined to do things in his way and gets really furious when things don't happen as he wants them to- we are very firm with him, very loving and try to teach him how to behave but I feel really sad for him and worried about him in the future. I also work and wonder whether it would be better for him if I didn't but that is not really an option. I hope that you work things out and don't feel too worried. Lots of people do seem to have children like this and they mainly seem to turn out fine in the end! Good luck and I hope that you work things out. It also sounds like the school aren't really interested in finding out what the real issue is- don't rush into changing schools, but definitely worth thinking about other options.
I can understand that teacher it was hard at first, especially as dd1 had always been so intuitive, if a little too sensitive and analytical of others. Dd2 though really did need to learn it, and develop her own rules of how to make a friend, how to play with a friend.
She used to rehearse them on the way to school. 'Today I will tell x that I'm going to play with someone else for one playtime, not because I don't want to play with him, but because I want to have other friends if he isn't there, but he can play with us too, and then I will play with him at lunchtime.' the teachers were great too, handing out stickers at every positive step. She still has her issues, but she actually wants 6 friends to her party - I had to go and get extra stuff because she has added in another girl. She now has almost as many close friends as dd1.
For OP I would also add that unless he is a very young 4, the nursery probably isn't the best place for him, and if you want to transfer into state then depending on how much they push reading etc he will have catch up. Also dd2 has become increasingly happier the further up the school she goes. She likes and needs structure and rules to feel secure, the more structured life becomes the happier she is.
Dd1 is the opposite and yearns for the endless play and junk modelling which sucked her into formal education
Yes red planet and teacher both those sound so familar ....older kids, etc. also the fact that 'life' seems a struggle for them in way I can't remember...think I was fairly happy-go-lucky and loved school so it's hard to identify with him. I really think the work thing is a struggle too , as you know, if I had more playtime to help them things might be easier ....but maybe not. I have a chat with school booked so maybe I can be a bit more frank with them about what i expect them to do and if they are willing to carry it though. I just feel at 4 you shouldn't be so unhappy going to school.
Well update is they basically want us to find somewhere more suitable...suggested Montessori etc. Not surprised and I think it's probably be best thing for him to move out of somewhere where he doesnt seem to have any connection with teachers or kids. Has anyone experiences of choosing montessori ? I'm still thnking state sector is probably best choice.
Is he August born or September born? I'm trying to work out if he's Yr R now, or still preschool?
The reason I say that is that there are only four montessori primary schools in the whole country at present, and they only use montessori methods in yr R/yr 1, not throughout the schools.
I love montessori and my DD3 thrives there - I'll be sad when she goes to school. However, montessori methods of learning aren't going to stop your DS struggling at school in the long term.
I think you need to investigate a state primary with a reputation for having children with SN - even if your DS turns out not to have SN per se, you'll know that the school is equipped to 'think outside the box'.
We are at a Montessori type nursery and despite the issues, they deal really well with our son (he is just 4) and really make an effort to work with him and us. Would definitely recommend this if you are able to do it, it can be a good option if you don't want to go down the SN route at the moment. Although of course this is just our experience, and there are some really good non private options too, with or without SN provision. Trust your instincts- I looked round a couple of really 'good' schools and knew that my son would just not get on there because he would just end up being naughty. Good luck.
We have Montessori school locally which is great but I am tempted by our state school with the 'inclusive' mandate ie they work with parents and SENCo if necessary to provide help for perhaps normal kids which might struggle a bit. His birthday is 30th August so he's officially youngest kid in R but has been in preschool - to be fair he'll not be behind in anything as he's pretty bright...I also think that I am going to have to give up work. His needs are out stripping the benefits - shame as I'll never get another job in my area as its ridiculously specialised and inLondon. We live about 1.5 hrs outside so I commute 3 hrs a day 3 days a week which I think is just too much time not to be around for him at this really difficult time. Did any of you change the amount of time you spent with your kids when problems arose?
More time - yes. I was a SAHM BUT I had been working towards going back to work (my old work had a scheme whereby I could go back in for placements of a few months and I had been doing that, with a view to going back).
To 'mend' DS after he came out of school 1 I HEd - DD was at pre-school 5 afternoons a week at the time, so I did devote myself to his needs during that time.
I suspect that, for me, because the issues had become entrenched and had affected e.g his speech, that concentrated 'mummy time' was critical to getting him ready to re-enter school and succeed. For you, it may be that you've caught it earlier and he may not need that IYSWIM?
I did stay as a SAHM for almost a year after he returned to school, partly due to a move but also so that I was around for e.g. playing in the park outside school, where his 'social learning' really became embedded.
Apply for the state school and perhaps ask work about taking parental leave- iirc, you are entitled to up to 5 weeks unpaid parental leave; hopefully someone can confirm or deny this. You could also approach them about taking a sabbatical, although you may be in a job without that degree of flexibility.
Find out if your borough has an early years advisor; even private schools can make referrals, and they can provide support with transition etc.
A good school will be open to a transition plan, which may include staggered starts and additional support.
specialist Early Years teachers with a good understanding of early development and socialisation are often found in the state sector. It is important that he gets the help he needs now. You can apply to a state school on the grounds of SEN as you asked, you would need a statement, if you have no joy with your school getting a statement approach your doctor who may be able to get you refered. In fact once you have a statement, and your child has SEN, the local authority has some obligations to him. If you don't get a statement or you don't want to go through that process, you can also simply apply to local good state primaries, and hope a place comes up. If he has a good Early Years specialist teacher she or he will help him to socialise. Good luck and I am really pleased that you sound happier.
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