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to take my DS out of pre school because they say he is needs 'extra support'.

(267 Posts)
Elvisina Fri 05-Jul-13 08:25:37

My 3 yr old DS has always been on the lively side! His idea of heaven is being allowed to just run through a park, woods or along a beach, preferably with some older children. He very rarely shows an interest in any kind of ‘mark making’ (despite our best efforts – we have enough arts and crafts stuff in this house to start up our own nursery). He had been quite a few months behind with his speech but his language has recently taken off in a big way! A recent visit to a speech therapist reassured me he is/will be fine.
Anyway, this April he started at a local pre school for 2 and a half days a week. It’s a new pre school that is attached to a primary school which only opened 2 years ago. They’ve just received a very good Ofsted and the resources are great. I was so delighted to get him in there and he absolutely loves it, running into the playground each morning with a massive smile on his face. However, over the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling increasingly uneasy about how they think he’s doing. Whenever I made a friendly enquiry to his teacher I’ve had rather crisp, negative responses such as “He doesn’t like joining in activities, especially if they’re led by an adult. He’s just not really ready” and “I’m like a broken record having to tell him all the time to put his coat on”. Nothing positive (and I know I’m biased but he is damn cute!). Last week I decided to phone up for a chat about how he’s doing, basically expecting some reassurance along the lines of, ‘he’s happy and friendly and we’re working on getting him to use his ‘listening ears’’ etc however it turned into a serious talk about how they have been preparing documentation to get him ‘extra support’ because he wants to play outside all the time and doesn’t want to join in the teacher led activities. Language such as “he needs a different learning path” was used. Apparently he stood out from the other children who were all happy to listen to teacher led activities. I was devastated and I know it’s ridiculous but I cried! It really hurt that they felt he was so different from the others. I mentioned that I had noticed there were loads more girls than boys and she said she hadn’t noticed this as a particular issue but in his class picture on their website there are 9 girls and 3 boys!

My DH thinks we should just accept the extra help and not worry about it but I now feel as though perhaps this isn’t the place for my DS. I don’t even feel as though they like him very much. I took him out of a lovely, friendly nursery where they seemed to really ‘get’ him and like him to go to this new pre school. I’m now considering sending him back there. Thing is, he loves it and I could be doing him a disservice by not letting him have this ‘extra support’. I honestly hadn’t realised that he would be required to take part in so many teacher led activities. I thought he got to play all day! What’s wrong with him wanting to play outside for 2 hours pretending to be a pirate? (I’m a teacher myself – secondary – so should have known better really). I keep looking at my wonderful boy who I honestly, honestly, honestly don’t think there is anything wrong with and feeling upset that they’ve made me feel as though he is somehow ‘failing’/different. I’m going in next week to observe him and discuss his ‘learning path’ but actually I just feel like I want to remove him. Would that be ridiculously unreasonable of me? Am I just being too sensitive?

GobbySadcase Sat 06-Jul-13 15:37:13

My 'lens of love' didn't see anything different about DS1. Why would it? He was my first.

An experienced preschool worker raised concerns.

We chose to follow it up. He has Aspergers.

I'm not saying this will be true for the OP. but really, really what harm will that extra support actually do? Nobody has answered that.

Kiriwawa Sat 06-Jul-13 17:17:37

None at all Gobby - it just means that the child gets the additional help they need.

For example, one of the things that DS does at school is for children who have issues with social skills. There are 5 kids from his class in the 'club' - some of whom are just painfully shy and some (I assume) may also have SN. They're all benefiting from targeted support in helping them communicate.

Why would anyone want to turn that down unless they feel there is some inherent shame in their child getting extra help?

Asheth Sat 06-Jul-13 17:46:07

Although I am a professional, I am not a professional with my DC. My experience as a teacher dealing with SEN and as a parent have been totally different (and in fact in all other areas of my DC's education) And that is a good thing. I love being a Mummy far too much to want to be their teacher! Yes, I do know how much children learn from their parents, but it is a very different role.

In a bit over a year the OPs DS will start school and learning will get a bit more formal than at pre-school. Unless the OP chooses to HE, it is the pre-schools job to help get her DS ready for school.

OP, there is no reason for what the pre-school say to make you over anxious or lose confidence in your parenting. Nor should it make you view your DS any differently. And if the extra support is well handled by the pre-school your DS will probably never know anything about it. It wil not prevent you enjoying him. My older DC do not have any SEN, but I do not enjoy my younger any less. I am as confident with him as with others and save all my anxiety for my PFB!

I'm not saying you're wrong to be worried and emotional about it now. But if after meeting with the pre-school you decide to accept their support, then probably in a few months time you'll be looking back and wondering what you were so worried about.

parkin2010 Sat 06-Jul-13 20:52:11

From what you are saying it's not the support needed, its the manner abd lack of empathy displayed towards your son (who sounds lovely) which is unsettling. My daughter needs extra support- she is struggling with speech/ doesnt understand outcomes/ cannot sit still for long- but it has been provided as well as valuing who she is and what she is good at (sports/ practical activities/ dance/ art) Any comments like you heard wpuld have made me tearful too. I think going back to nursery alongside additional support would be a nice solution personally x

Elvisina Thu 11-Jul-13 00:07:42

Ok, I thought I’d give you an update. I went into my DS’s preschool yesterday for the afternoon session to observe him (3 hours). It was so eye opening! The majority of the session was free play, with some structure regarding what was available to play with (they had interesting, good resources). Throughout this free play time my DS was a cutie! Loads of engaging with the toys and other students. Loads of chatting. Loved telling me people’s names and showing me things. Happy to take part in the little routines. No mark making of course but he had done one picture (scribble) in the morning before I’d got there. I have to say the staff were really warm towards him and he obviously loved being there.

However, half-way through the session, the children were taken to another room for ‘Learning Time’. They were asked to sit cross legged while the teacher read a story from a large screen. She read it well but it took 10 mins and my DS was struggling after 5 minutes. He did join in enough for me to say he got something out of it. He laughed at appropriate moments etc but he did lie down towards the end. The other children definitely sat more nicely than him but then I noticed that there were 13 GIRLS and only 2 BOYS! My DS was one of the boys and the other boy was new that day, and understandably feeling shy. So if the new boy hadn’t been there my DS would have been the only boy! After 10 minutes of sitting still and listening they were put into small groups and asked to take part in another quite formal 10 minute task which involved listening to the teacher and then putting things into categories and counting them. My DS only managed about 2 mins of this and started wandering around the classroom. Afterwards, the teacher said not to worry as she understood he had a different learning style. I said perhaps his ‘different learning style’ was that he was a boy and pointed out the class ratio. She honestly did not seem to have noticed!

I don’t want to overplay the gender issue here but, in my experience as a teacher, it’s pretty basic practice to acknowledge and make allowances for the differences between boys and girls. Of course you can’t generalise but my goodness a secondary school class with nearly all girls would be completely different to teach than a class with nearly all boys. I’m not at all saying that my DS doesn’t need to learn to sit still and listen, he has to learn to conform at school if he’s going to do well, but I don’t think it’s a massive cause for concern that he can’t do this for longer than 5 mins at the age of 3. It seems that his inability to focus in the formal sessions was what I was being invited in to observe. If you include the morning session, he would have been expected to sit still and listen for at least an hour today (they also have another story at the end of each session). He was still in nappies 6 months ago! Anyway, I have a meeting with the school later this week. I’m not sure what to do. On the one hand, he absolutely loves being there and the staff did seem genuinely nice but on the other hand perhaps he should be in a place where the gender mix is more even. Or is it a good thing that he is with mostly girls as they model positive classroom behaviour? Am I making too much of this gender ratio? Obviously I’m keen to jump on an excuse for him being different so am biased. I feel as though I saw a little boy who managed fine for the majority of the session but just wasn’t interested in sitting still and listening for longer than 5 mins.

shewhowines Thu 11-Jul-13 00:22:02

He is obviously capable of it if he sat for 5 minutes. I'd keep him there and let this develop with age - as long as he is happy. You are right- there would be a lot more like him if there was a better gender mix. You are also correct in that, he will probably learn faster with positive role models rather than being with others who will mess around with him and/or distract him.

If they want to provide him with extra support, to do things with him, when he has obviously had enough, then i'd grab it with both hands. He won't be labeled.

MsMarple Thu 11-Jul-13 00:54:35

For what it is worth OP I have a very happy DS who wouldn't draw or even attempt to write throughout pre-school. He spent the whole time outside in a little tikes car and could never be persuaded inside for craft things. As you say, the ones at the writing and drawing table were mostly girls.

Fast forward one year to the end of reception he can read and write very well according to his teacher.

It sounds like all your instincts are screaming at you that it is perfectly normal and healthy for your 3 year old boy to spend his time playing, which sounds pretty sensible to me too. Not sure what kind of 'extra support' they envisage - would it be to 'help' him sit still and do what they want him to do, or to let him get on with his own thing whilst everyone else does the dull formal stuff?! If it were me, I'd tell them that you just want him to have fun, and play with whatever he wants, and you'll worry about school when he gets there - but obviously that isn't a professional opinion!

Also, I have to say the fact that there are so few other boys to play with would worry me too. Do any of the girls there like to play the same kind of things he does? I'm sure girls are very nice (being one myself!) but it might be even more fun for him to have some little boy mates too. Tricky for you as he seems to like it there, but maybe he is the kind of sweet natured child who would make the best of anywhere, whether or not it was the best place for him?

McGeeDiNozzo Thu 11-Jul-13 05:08:26

I was going to come in here and say "but you're turning DOWN extra support?! It was such a struggle for me to get extra support! My god! Take it!!"

But if their concern is that he's not participating in teacher-led activities at three years old, then maybe the problem lies with them and their prescriptive attitude, rather than your DC and his "extra learning needs". It doesn't sound like they're willing to tolerate too much difference (and, in the era of Wilshaw, I'm betting that creative approaches to learning not based around total discipline and confirmity are... not exactly encouraged, so approbation from Ofsted isn't necessarily a good thing).

I'd experiment with somewhere else if I were you. Montessori? Maybe... it doesn't necessarily have to be an entirely alternative teaching credo, but I'd be looking around.

McGeeDiNozzo Thu 11-Jul-13 05:09:05

WTF is confirmity? ConFORMity!!

MrsMelons Thu 11-Jul-13 08:10:37

I have worked in a pre-school setting and it is so so difficult when the staff identify that a child needs extra support but the parent does not accept it is necessary. We have had children leave and go to other settings and the parents have been told exactly the same there so it ends up the child doesn't get the support they need before starting school which is such a shame.

A lot of work (additional 1:1 support, meetings, paperwork) goes into to offering extra support so I can't imagine they would do this lightly however it does seem their main problem is the fact he doesn't sit still, there is plenty of time for this, obviously 10 mins is not a long time for a child to sit still but some do not manage this until at least 4 YO so its not a massive issue. Are there genuinely no other issues they are talking about? If not I think they are making too much of this.

I think you are making lots of excuses re boys and girls, at this age there is much less difference than you are suggestion.

If you want him to stay at the setting I would accept the support for now and see how it goes as it may actually be good for him.

Januarymadness Thu 11-Jul-13 09:49:14

Have you asked what the extra support entails? I think it is probably as simple as getting another member of staff in that would allow him to get up and go do other things away from the rest of the class if he is not happy.

In short they want him to be happy. This kind of thing is not always negative.

atrcts Thu 11-Jul-13 09:53:02

I can understand you might feel your son is under personal attack, but I'd be surprised if its that they don't like him (as you feared), it is more likely that they are trying to prepare him for school in a year's time - where he WILL have to sit and listen some of the time.

However I strongly feel that 3 years old is so young. I really wish this country would not try and lose their childhood for them so soon! But the sad fact is there is an expectation that all 4/5 year olds attend school, which has all sorts of restrictions an rules attached to it.

I'd rather my son was slowly accustomed to lining up and sitting down for stories etc in preschool, rather than shocked by being thrown into the deep end later on at school.

I suppose if you take your son out of this place and then regret it, it would be hard to being him back? So maybe go along with what they say just to be open minded and give them a chance to prove themselves right or not, as the case may be. Then, if you still feel uneasy, act on it?

missesjellybean Thu 11-Jul-13 10:20:44

I don't like the fact the nursery told you that they were filling in a report to get him extra help without even consulting you. I would be pretty livid about that tbh.
they're concerned enough to start to apply for extra help but haven't had a talk with you or grasped your input.

personally if it was me I'd put him back in his old nursery where he got on really well. he is only 3 and going to be in education doing teacher led activities from 4-18. if it was my child id let him have a fun environment to learn and develop in for the next year but that's just me.

Asheth Thu 11-Jul-13 13:24:38

Thank you for the update! From what you observed I can't see any major cause for concern. Are all the children the same age or are some starting school in September?

I do find the gender imbalance a bit concerning, as it's so extreme. It wouldn't bother me if there were more girls than boy or vice versa. But just one other boy is not much. Again, is that something that may change in September with some leaving and maybe new ones starting? I hope so as apart from that it sounds like a lovely pre-school.

Have they told you what referrals they want to make or what the extra support would involve? To me it sounds that they have some valid concerns, but to jump straight from that into referrals seems a bit extreme. I would expect them to monitor and observe him, for at least another half term. And to work on him gradually increasing his concentration span. For example if he can concentrate for 5 mins to reward him with a sticker when he concentrates for 6, then 7 etc. And if those stratetgies don't work and he doesn't improve then to look at more help and support for when he's a bit nearer starting school!

Branleuse Fri 12-Jul-13 07:23:05

I think if you think its just that hes not ready for school, then just take him out, especially if you think theyve never experienced boys before.

Theyre offering him support. Not a ball and chain. Support.

Bonsoir Fri 12-Jul-13 07:35:00

My DD went to French école maternelle when she was 2.10. It was very much teacher-led and there were three years of it. She never got great reports when she was there and her final year teacher told me she refused to listen or concentrate. I knew there was nothing wrong with my DD but boredom.

Fast forward three years and she is doing incredibly well, at the same school, and others who "excelled" at pre-school are bumbling along. Trust your instincts and look long and hard at what school is providing. It is often very inadequate.

nosila12 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:32:08

Similar story to Bonsoir with my dd. Mine wouldn't sit still and listen. Got some awful reports from pre-school and in reception. But doing extremely well by year 2. She's still very fidgety but she absorbs the information whilst she's fidgeting. I think it was more of a compliance issue with mine - she didn't want to listen to a story, she wanted to play. Once she got to school the rules were fairly quickly drummed into her and she started to comply, eventually. I don't think your ds is unusual. There were five or six like mine, even in year 1 the teacher told me. I cried when I got her end of year 1 report. Having only previously had reports that she was a problem, we were suddenly told she was doing extremely well. My gut instinct all the way through was that they just don't get her.

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