To be worried teacher thinks my daughter is unhappy

(50 Posts)
Blossompetals Fri 07-May-21 16:51:40

Can't stress enough that this isn't a teacher bashing post. I can't explain my daughter's behaviour and sometimes worry about her myself.

She's happy at home. Got a brother and me and her dad. She was a happy baby and toddler.

After her brother was born she started shutting down in regards to talking to adults. She got painfully shy like she was anxious. It took her three years to even speak to family members again. She loves her brother and never expressed any jealous behaviour. She has always had a close bond with him.

She's now 6. I was worried when she started school. But she spoke to everyone. Enjoyed it. Seemed to settle in fast. After a couple of months the teacher said she wasn't listening and struggling to grasp the routine.we had her eyes and ears checked. All was fine. She started to improve and was picking up the routine and they expressed she was like a new child. She had a little bit of extra help with a few other children who also needed guidance with work. Then coronavirus happened.

Her writing and reading improved and she was reading CVC words and going onto lots of four letter words etc. Writing is neat. She is really artistic. Everyeone who meets her comments on how good she is at drawing. The school were abit concerned about this at one point in reception as all she wanted to do was art and colouring. They had to encourage her onto other activities.

She started year one. I was hopeful she would be ok after such a long time off. I had done lots with her at home. She had matured emotionally and was confident again with her talking. She is now speaking to all adults again and her brother has really helped her with that.

She had barely started year one and the teacher asked about her eyes and ears like the last teacher. I said they had been checked. Then she expressed concerns over her concentration. She wasn't listening or grasping things. She seemed to be finding it hard. They decided to get her assessed.

For two days she was assessed. The verdict was a 26 page document saying she was a perfectly normal Child. Average on everything. Was able to do every test and activity and there were no concerns. The report suggested the teachers needed to adapt their teaching styles and made several suggestions. It read as though they were being told to get creative and do what they trained to do. I was quite surprised at the report as the school seemed so concerned I expected something to flag up.

I called the school for an update. She said she is doing much better in small groups. Still can't focus as wel in the main classroom.

We talked about her confidence. I told her at home she hesitates to say her answers like she's anxious incase it's wrong with her homework. The teacher said yes and have you noticed anything else at home. I haven't personally just the nerves with trusting herself with what she wants to say.

She also asked me about her imaginary friend and if I was aware of this. I know she has one and didn't really realise she had been talking about it at school. But she has. Apparently she's using her to express herself and stuff.

The teacher seems concerned about her and I think she was hoping I had noticed things about her myself.

I am aware of her being abit anxious and she struggles emotionally with things like me talking to other children for example.

I don't know why she fears getting into trouble. She's a daddy's girl. He's a really loving balanced character. I also spend time with her and expose her to as much as I can. I try and keep her busy and happy. I am slightly stricter than her dad. She has a loving household. We don't argue and she's not around anything toxic.

I'm just concerned that the school are suspecting she's unhappy and I can understand why she comes across that way sometimes. I'm just fearful they are concerned about her home life.

Anyone got any experience? She's my first child so I'm not sure whether one day she will just click if that makes sense.

OP’s posts: |
WyldStallions Sat 08-May-21 10:35:38


Tbh not all 6 year olds are ready to focus and learn especially in large group settings. This is why playbased learning at this level is becoming increasingly popular. With a detailed 28 page document saying your dd is totally fine I'd assume she just isn't ready for such formal learning

A detailed 28 page document saying the child is totally fine makes no sense to me as an ed psych.

If someone (a teacher) is telling you as an EP that there is a problem, then they are experiencing a problem. They are experiencing it to the extent that they have spent their school budget on asking you to come and investigate and advise, at a really very young age. So investigating and saying "she is a perfectly typical child in every way" is not satisfactory, to the extent that maybe there is some misinterpreting of the EP report going on. Maybe the EP couldn't identify a reason for the difficulties, but turning that into "there are no difficulties" is not at all the same thing.

OP might you consider posting the EP's summary, anonymised?

midnightstar66 Sat 08-May-21 09:43:47

Tbh not all 6 year olds are ready to focus and learn especially in large group settings. This is why playbased learning at this level is becoming increasingly popular. With a detailed 28 page document saying your dd is totally fine I'd assume she just isn't ready for such formal learning

NoSquirrels Sat 08-May-21 09:08:03

*Nobody has ever said dyslexia to me but that is interesting! Her dad has a very good memory. His childhood memories are he felt misunderstood. He had problems as a child with his ears and speech and got his letters the wrong way round such as saying rock instead of lock.^

Ah, interesting. There a strong hereditary element - my DC’s maternal grandmother ‘didn’t speak’ until secondary school - an aural processing issue it would be diagnosed as today. One of her other GC had similar hard to diagnose symptoms and eventually got an ASD/ADHD diagnosis as a late primary school child after many tests.

wildseas Sat 08-May-21 07:41:36

It doesn’t address the larger question but a really good technique for the anxiety about answering questions is to introduce «thinking bubbles «
Imagine you have a page of maths. You put the question on the left, thinking bubble in the middle and answer on the right.
She fills in the thinking bubble on her own and then you decide on the answer together.
It should let you see what she understands and what she doesn’t.

Wilkolampshade Sat 08-May-21 07:40:11

Definitely read around dyslexia OP. Like @GlamGiraffe, your lovely DD sounds a little like my dyslexic DD at that age. (She's 19 now and absolutely flourishing in Higher Education so don't worry!) Also my girl has had various encounters with psychs' and counsellors over the years and they've often seemed to suggest a ASD...but never had quite enough evidence for one.
I queried dyslexia with the school when she was around seven/eight but was told she couldn't be because she was bright 🙄 (such nonsense) hopefully they wouldn't make that mistake these days! Anyway, she moved school and it was picked up pretty quickly after that. Her dyslexia, which is moderately severe, mainly troubles her in the area of auditory processing and in a class environment this can be v stressful if not acknowledged. There are very specific tests for dyslexia that wouldn't have been in your Ed psychs report so worth reading up. I found the "Helen Arkell Centre" a helpful place to start.
Good luck!

imip Sat 08-May-21 07:33:18

As Anna says above! I would consider ASC. I have 2, possibly 3 autistic girls. EP didn’t recognise this. Girls can have a much different presentation. Google Tony Atwood, Kirsty Forbes t think is another.

And dyslexia. Schools are really phenomenally bad at picking this up. She is not yet 7? They probably won’t even look for this yet.


AnnaMagnani Sat 08-May-21 07:25:04

Not being able to make eye contact isn't a sign of autism, especially in girls.

Special interests for girls may be different than those of boys so autism is missed. It's obvious if your child is super interested in trains or dinosaurs but what if you have a girl and her special interest is hair and makeup? Isn't that just normal for girls? ASD girls may have interests the same as their peers - hair, makeup, popstars, caring for animals.

From your story things that stand out are:

The period of selective mutism
The anxiety of getting the worng answer - even at home
Lack of concentration
A lot of effort to get her off her interests of art and colouring
You have a history of someone in the family being dyslexic, someone else being a daydreamer

This could be dyslexia, autism, inattentive ADD or nothing. However you have an interested teacher and that is fantastic as in a class of 30, she is still focussed on your well-behaved, average looking child and wanting to focus on her individual needs. That in itself is worth it's weight in gold.

FWIW I'm autistic and never had a meltdown at home as I was happy there. Took till I got to university for it to start happening. Every child is different. I didn't answer any questions in class either - terrified of getting the answer wrong.

QuarantineQueen Sat 08-May-21 07:25:01

Sounds very much like high intelligence ADD (like ADHD but without the hyperactive bit). It is often missed in bright children, and it's often missed in girls - because those groups present differently to the typical ADHD boy.
But, there isn't really anything to do other than what the EP has suggested - accept her as she is, and cultivate teaching styles that help her (easier said than done in a class of 30) so there probably isn't much point in a label other than reassurance for you and the teacher.

Christmasfairy2020 Sat 08-May-21 07:21:58

Also my dd was moved into a reception y1 class. She is thriving now as she has caught up from last year

Christmasfairy2020 Sat 08-May-21 07:18:22

Sounds like my dd who is same age. Apparently she is a schema? Very creative. She literally makes things all the time and hates English. However she is good at maths Apparently? Anyways I moved my dd school as she was always fighting at her old school and they wasn't doing her any good. She is now in a village school with 14 children in each year group. Shes thriving

Learningtofeminist Sat 08-May-21 07:10:07

@Blossompetals, sorry this is nothing to do with your original question but I think you may have accidentally named your daughter in your last post. You can report your own post to MNHQ and they can delete the name.

SophieB100 Sat 08-May-21 06:50:24

Dare I say OP, that the problem here might be the school?

I was very much like your DD at her age - looking back, it was a massive self-confidence issue, I absolutely froze in situations. I knew what I had to do, but for the life of me, I just couldn't break through this barrier, and act upon instructions, so would just switch off. I felt so self conscious it crippled me.

I was more relaxed at home, so my parents were perplexed by the school's concern. Now this was over 50 years ago, when all the tests and screening were unavailable, but I clearly remember being taken for a hearing test, and during it I could hear the words fine, but I couldn't for the life of me respond. Again, just crippled with feeling self-conscious.

Now, all these years later, I'm a teacher with SEN training, and there is nothing in your OP that concerns me.

This leads me back to my first point - some kids are different, but some schools need a label, a box, a diagnosis. Please don't get hung up on this - I work with lots of, for want of a better word, "quirky" kids, who don't fall under SEN but respond to different approaches, creative teaching, small group work, far better than a "one size fits all" approach.

Please relax and focus on keeping things as they are at home - she will pick up on your anxiety, and if she's anything like the young me, this will add to her anxiety.

I relaxed and felt far less self conscious when I moved up to the next year, a teacher I loved (I still remember her), who "got" me, and actually encouraged my creative, "thinking outside the box" side, because she was a lot like me! My confidence grew, and everything was fine. She taught me it was ok to "dance to a beat from a different drum" (she wrote this on my report, after I won a little award for writing a story), actually she celebrated it. I always remember her, and I'm sure that her influence on me is why I feel I can empathise with the kids I teach now, who don't follow the prescriptive norm.

I've rambled a bit, but in a nutshell my point is, don't let the school try and make a problem where there isn't one, because they don't have the ability to find ways to teach that aren't prescriptive. Give her time, don't rush for a label, trust your gut.

sunbunnydownunder Sat 08-May-21 06:49:26

When they assessed her did they assess her for inattentive ADHD? It cause the kids to shut off in class as they can't maintain the concentration and can cause alot of anxiety especially in girls. In my experience they don't pick up on it as the child is usually quiet and not have the difficult behaviours that come with regualer ADHD

nancywhitehead Sat 08-May-21 06:37:54

OP, has she seen a Speech & Language Therapist?

I know the Dr has questioned selective mutism and said he isn't really concerned, but the person you really need to see about these concerns is a SALT. They will also assess her social communication.

Ask for a referral due to concerns about her language and communication skills. Some GPs don't actually know the full extent of what SALTs actually do and this is a bit of a grey area around social communication, but it is definitely what she needs.

Fucket Sat 08-May-21 06:32:51

My son was the same, he saw a paediatrician who said he showed some
Asd traits but not enough to warrant a formal diagnosis. He was extremely anxious at school. Was silent to adults and his anxiety manifested in ridiculous tics.

Now he’s at an Independent school with 12 in his class, and he’s a different lad completely. He’s gone from 31 in a class
To 12. He just doesn’t do large groups of people at all.

Expecting all children to be able to engage in large group learning is the issue. The teacher needs to employ different styles of teaching, sounds like they need to do more small group work.

WyldStallions Sat 08-May-21 06:32:49

" sounds like ADHD or ASD to me. Schools are not able to make a diagnosis of this and nor is an ed psych"

Any EP worth their salt should recognise and make appropriate referrals for such children. We aren't allowed to diagnose as these are restricted diagnoses, but we are trained to recognise and how to support.

WyldStallions Sat 08-May-21 06:30:55

The EP didn't listen, and that's not good. There are problems, or she wouldn't have been prioritized for assessment.

I don't know if this is what it is, but autism in girls doesn't tend to present in that stereotypical 'lines toys up, doesn't make eye contact' way. It's more subtle. Having an imaginary friend is more common in autistic girls. Selective mutism is where a person who can speak fluently in one setting fails to do do, when expected, in another. Being able to respond a tiny bit but not initiate counts as well. There are two types, high and low profile selective mutism. Low profile children can answer a little bit, and often talk well to certain children. So they don't tend to get flagged.
Again it's more common in autism.

Dyslexia is a difficulty with reading and /or spelling despite appropriate instruction over time. Private dyslexia screening places tend to call everything dyslexia including working memory problems, auditory processing problems, and slower processing any of which is possible (but I wouldn't call dyslexia as it obscures what the actual learning issue is).

Keep on searching out answers. Something is going on for her that means she isn't thriving.

OldWivesTale Sat 08-May-21 06:20:59

It sounds like ADHD or ASD to me. Schools are not able to make a diagnosis of this and nor is an ed psych. She would need to see a child psychiatrist for a proper diagnosis. Mainstream schools are useless for neurodiverse children in my experience (and I'm a teacher). I would push for a proper assessment. You'll either need to pay privately or go to your GP.

LunaLula83 Sat 08-May-21 06:11:32

Just tell them she's a normal girl and you are working on her confidence and anxiety and suggest they do the same. It sounds like everyone is moaning about this girl and not actually helping her.

Motherissues2020 Sat 08-May-21 06:10:05

Some children are just shy! I've been a TA in a class with a little girl who was perfectly capable but just wouldn't speak in front of the whole class. It looked like she didnt understand but she did she was just painfully shy.

What worked for her was not putting pressure directly on her. The class did a lot of discussion in pairs on the carpet. The teacher would listen quietly to the children and she often had good things to say. One of a pair would then feed back to the group, often her partner not her. Sometimes I would encourage her to whisper her answers to me. If she was put on the spot, she would just freeze and everything would go out of her head. She just needed a different approach and reassurance that she wouldn't be called on and she could relax and take things in.

Many teachers are extroverts and performers and maybe don't get or understand this kind of child. It's useful for them to have more confident children as they can help the lesson flow , and give feedback that the children understand so the teacher can move on.

Does the teacher do other kinds of feedback? Thumbs up if you understand, stand up if you agree with so and so etc? That sort of thing might work for her and show her understanding while not putting her on the spot.

Blossompetals Sat 08-May-21 06:06:54

Thank you for all your replies. I've read them all. I've had the conversations with the Dr about selective mutism. He said because she speaks to her friends and teachers he's not too concerned. With time she has began speaking to everyone. She actually pushes herself now to say hi to people in the street as her brother just talks to everyone he sees at the moment. I think he has pulled her out now he's 3 and communicating alot himself.

I've gone over the autism stuff myself and questioned it again with the Dr or the school. The thing is she literally had none of the behaviours shown on any of the online information. For example she doesn't line things up. She's always made eye contact. She's always responded to emotion. She's always been able to share. Shes into hair, fashion etc. Seems to be ok with routine changes. She doesn't have meltdowns. Maybe the odd one like any child who is tired after a busy week at school. I can't see any massive signs of autism and not many small ones. Again I can see why it may look that way in what I've written and I've definitely looked into it myself but it never seems to fit what is going on.

Nobody has ever said dyslexia to me but that is interesting! Her dad has a very good memory. His childhood memories are he felt misunderstood. He had problems as a child with his ears and speech and got his letters the wrong way round such as saying rock instead of lock. He had help for his speech eventually but I have always felt his childhood sounds unhappy from his memories. The only difference is my daughter's speech is really good and she actually speaks really well. He concluded as an adult he thinks he's slightly dyslexic. He works in a really good job now. His hand writing is messy and occasionally he asks me how to spell something. Overall he's completely fine although he's a deep thinker and sensitive! I will certainly look into this so thank you!

I hope one day I can talk to her after parents evenings and tell her how proud she's made me and get that feeling other mums get.

I just fear the teachers see her as a frustration in the classroom and I hope she isn't sensing it if that makes sense? When we've done zoom calls with the whole class I've noticed the teacher interacts very differently with the confident children. Especially one child who's mums a teacher at the school. Sometimes I think my daughter is hoping she will notice her and just say something. My daughter has a rally nervous facial expression on them.


My daughter was in swimming lessons before lockdown and also was the only one not confident or grasping. I understand why it makes you feel sad. It's hard isn't it! I sometimes sit and think I wish she was like The other children. They all love calling out answers. Showing they can do things and just seem to really take part. My dad is also a bit of a day dreamer but seems bright. I thought her writing was really neat but the teacher said she's still missing letters out etc.

I sometimes think the school are forgetting each child has had a different level of interaction and education due to home schooling. I've had a toddler here too so she didn't get to sit quietly with me for 3 hours a day learning. Where as some children did everything. We did what we could whilst he napped! But when you think how much time they've had off is it really surprising that some children are still not working to their age if that makes sense?

Mia was off from march-september.
Back for three days. Got a cold. School panicked and isolated us for 10 days as tests were unavailable back then.

She was then off from Christmas until march. Did a week. Then her bubble shut for 10 days. So it's been really inconsistent. Some children will thrive but I feel my daughter really needs to catch up and sometimes I worry year 2 will be hell as it will soon be the summer holidays and another year over.

Thanks for reading x

OP’s posts: |
glassbrightly Sat 08-May-21 06:01:48

Sounds very like my daughter, who is 6 but in YR 2. Has always been shy (though she has really come out of her skin in the last year), and is quirky and a little socially clumsy. We has an Ed psych assessment a couple of years ago (which was too early really) and are having this refreshed. She's also been screed for ASD, ADHD and ADD. Her concentration is a material issue so she shows ADD traits but nothing else, and the psychiatrist's view was that the concentration may also be anxiety linked. We also suspect dyspraxia. We are starting play therapy to see if we can unlock this, as we notice the concentration issue at home. I would maybe wait another year but keep talking to the school and in particular the SENCO, and then maybe look at another assessment.

Roonerspismed Sat 08-May-21 05:49:00

I’m going to put my old fashioned hat on here and think they are trying to “ label” her but perhaps there isn’t a label to fit?

But this ignores the fact there are many aspects of normal. Some people take linker to adapt to the school routine and are naturally reserved.

Has she made any close friends at school can I ask? Or is she quite an independent soul?

My only experience here is as a mother of three but I would be just watching for now and nurturing- as you are. I found kid drama classes really boosted the confidence of some of mine. Perhaps dancing?

ittakes2 Sat 08-May-21 05:43:05

Please google primitive reflexes not going dormant and see if that applies to her. She also sounds to me like she has anxiety and I would recommend going to a therapist as much easier to sort at a young age than when she becomes a teen when it will get worse due to puberty.

Supersimkin2 Sat 08-May-21 05:43:04

Both me and DB had our hearing checked at school OP. We were certified Not Paying Attention. That scatty overimagination pays my bills to this day 40 years on.

I do think it’s a bit unreasonable for assessors to dictate what is effectively 121 personality-tailored teaching for a child.

Schools really don’t have that kind of millionaire money. In any case, cooperation and social skills are far more important long term.

IMHO, find something DD likes doing by way of a hobby and do it. Takes time, it’ll happen.
Concentration of outrageous lengths will result.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in