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School have called me in to talk about DS, 4yo :(

(106 Posts)
wheelsfelloff Tue 26-Feb-13 16:46:21

Am a regular but have name-changed for this. I'm sitting here in tears and shaky, I don't know what to do.

DS is in Reception and is one of the youngest, a last days of August baby (which may, or may not, be relevant). Since he started in September, he is always in trouble and this was also the case when he was in a (private) nursery for mornings for the previous six months. We are talking general not listening, fidgeting, being silly etc. as well as some spitting and the odd bout of hitting and kicking, although my understanding is that there is less of this now. I realise that none of these things are acceptable and I can understand how irritating it must be for the teachers.

He has always been pretty feisty but we have always had boundaries and taught him right from wrong. I'm sure everyone thinks 'it's the parents' fault' but we really have always tried to be consistent. Both DP and I are pretty meek and mild, we don't fight, we never hit each other or the DCs or condone such behaviour in any way. We have seen DS's behaviour improve immensely at home as he has got older and tbh we don't have many problems with him, above and beyond the usual 4 year old stuff. If I take him on playdates or to parties, he behaves well. He can be so lovely, is a nice older brother and is doing well learning-wise at school. But something about school environments seems to drive him a bit bonkers.

At the first parent's evening before Christmas, his teacher told me he was naughty but 'I don't think he's on some spectrum, if that's what you're thinking'. We agreed to a sticker chart which I did for a couple of months but tbh it didn't really feel like it was helping him stop what is essentially impulsive behaviour and also for it to work relied on the teacher reporting back to me every day which didn't always happen or I didn't really know enough about why it was 'not a good day' in order to explain to DS why he wasn't getting a sticker. So it fizzled out.

Yesterday was the first day back after half-term. He was in trouble yesterday for throwing people's things. Today was worse (some spitting and DS said they put him in the nursery) and his teacher has asked me to go in on Thursday to 'talk about how we can support him in school'. I don't know what to think, I don't know what to do. I feel like such a crap parent for this to be happening but I just don't know what else to do when I don't really have major problems with him elsewhere. He does go through phases of being particularly bonkers (including the last couple of weeks) after long periods of relative calm; we have looked at food, sleep etc. but there seems to be no obvious cause.

Sorry for the essay and the ranting. I just wondered if anyone had any words of wisdom. I just know I'm going to go in on Thursday and blub, although I really don't want to sad. I want to work with the teachers and I also don't want my DS to be 'crying and bored' in the nursery every day sad.

wheelsfelloff Tue 26-Feb-13 18:17:25

Thank you for that Mandarin, that is helpful. As is the advice about the GP/paed (sorry, finding it hard to keep up with all posts as well as change bums/fill hot water bottles etc.!)

Plomdenume Tue 26-Feb-13 18:17:43

At school, who is he hitting, kicking and spitting at? What do you do if he behaves badly at home? (i.e. what are the consequences) Do they have any other reward chart type stuff at school e.g. being 'on the rainbow' or getting extra choosing time / loosing choosing time at the end of the week?

When you say 'bonkers' and 'feisty' what sort of behaviours are you talking about? And what is he like with friends, does he have particular friends at home or in school?

EmmaGellerGreen Tue 26-Feb-13 18:18:12

They are wanting to talk about how they can support him, not to judge/critisie you or him. They will want to do everything that they can to help him. He is 4, he may just be a young 4 and struggling. There may be more to it, if there is, better to have it identified and plans to support him put in place.

I have been where you are. Yes it is a shock but work with them. They may suggest an IEP, an individual education plan which will lay out where he is struggling and what they plan to do to help. If so, brilliant. Make sure you meet with them regularly to check how he's doing.

Good luck

domesticslattern Tue 26-Feb-13 18:22:35

I think it is interesting that you say that the school "don't seem to have done some of the things that were talked about at parent's evening (teacher talked about a little 'social skills' group for some of the children in the class, for instance)."

This struck a chord as my DD got into a few scrapes at school and they did such a group and it seems to have worked well. Also a sticker chart working towards a present she really wanted (Lego Friends). Very simple and strangely effective, when combined with making sure she is not tired or hungry (when it all falls apart!).

So... what else did they suggest and not follow through? I think it sounds like a good opportunity to go in and talk positively about how you're going to work with them to address the behaviour. There is no need to feel crap - I know you will though smile- this is their job to help different kinds of children settle in school. They will see it every year. They are professionals. It is their job. Try to look at it like that. Can you go with DH too and get him to do the talking if you think you might blub?

domesticslattern Tue 26-Feb-13 18:22:49

DP sorry

I've been asked to go in to talk about DS a couple of times recently and I did find it felt a bit like getting a telling off myself. I think schools have some way to go before they really respect parents as at least in a partnership with themselves regarding children's learning and development.

I think your DS is still very young, and I'd not really be happy with a teacher using a word like "naughty" to describe him. How experienced is the teacher ?
Sending him to the nursery isn't necessarily ideal either, unless it's agreed with everyone that it's an environment better suited to his current needs ie. with a greater emphasis on learning through play and a higher staff ratio.

Lavenderhoney Tue 26-Feb-13 18:27:28

Are there lots of children in the class and are they all well behaved? Does your ds get like this when near other children who are boisterous but is the one getting caught? Is he copying? Or bored as not being engaged with?
Or is he expected to sit on a hard cold scratchy old carpet for circle time? That was an issue at our school til cushions were provided!

The use of the word naughty without explaining what that means and how the teacher is engaging with your ds hasn't helped you. There was a lad like this in my ds class, early August boy. He was very dispruptive. The teacher concentrated on 3 behaviours she wanted and as he wasn't fussed about stickers asked his parents to help with rewards at home too as well as him getting plenty of praise at school. Is he told he is naughty but no other expectation of behavior to him from his teacher? That would not please me, and doesn't help your ds. Is she overwhelmed with children?

How does he behave in the nursery class?

You could ask the teacher how she has dealt with children in the past, her experience of it and does she know of another parent of an older boy who was like this but is now fine on class behaviour.

EnjoyResponsibly Tue 26-Feb-13 18:28:20

I wrote almost your exact post a year ago.

DS (now 5) saw an EdPsych at the time who suggested immaturity (late May birthday).

Now in Year 1 we are about to revisit her. What she comes up with remains to be seen. I've read up on the various SEN, like your son he doesn't seem to fit any specific category.

Also like you DS is great at home, concentrating for hours on his craft projects or toys then just cannot sit still in a classroom as he is very easily distracted. As a consequence he is falling behind.

As others have said, although it is so very hard try to work with the school. IME they LOVE parents that work with them and are willing to support classroom strategies in the home.

In addition I'm also giving DS Omega 3 supplements, I've got him a wiggle cushion and the school are finding him an older boy to act as a mentor.

I've made tonnes of suggestions and they've never once said no.

Small steps and big unMNy hugs.

wheelsfelloff Tue 26-Feb-13 18:32:51

Plom - friends, usually. Sometimes sounds like six of one etc. but not always. Yes they have rainbow/sun/star chart and can lose playtime. At home, consequences can be toy being put away, treat withdrawn etc. Also try to be positive and talk about behaviours, why things not good/right etc. I would say by feisty I meant that he used to hit and kick me when 2ish but not for a long time. By bonkers I mean not listening, running about, not sitting still, being rude, repeating no-nos (chasing cat etc.) This is what we have phases of, not constant. He seems popular with lots of kids at school and there's 4/5 that he's closer too, we have playdates with/go to the park with.

Emma - thank you, did it work out well for you? That is positive advice and from domestic too. That's a good way to look at it.

adoptmama Tue 26-Feb-13 18:33:42

First off lots of children find school difficult at his age; Reception is often quite formal etc and he may simply not be ready for this. How did he respond to being sent to Nursery - perhaps he loved it and if so this could be a big clue to you that he simply is not developmentally ready for Reception.

Don't worry too much about the 'spectrum' comment. As teachers nowadays we have probably all experienced parents who immediately jump to ASD, ADHD etc in panic when hearing their children are struggling. I have no doubt the teacher only said this to reassure you in case you were one of 'those' parents smile

Breathe deeply - they want to support you and your son. The sticker chart would work better if they were giving the stickers in school rather than relying on you doing it at home.

Explain to them the expectations and strategies you have at home, what is working and what is not. Look for potential triggers at school; is he tired after being 'off schedule', having later nights etc and suddenly having to get back up for school. Lots of children struggle the first week or so back after a holiday.

Is his negative behaviour directed primarily at a particular child? If so you may have a friendship/relationship issue. Do they see it more at a particular time of day eg late morning. If so perhaps he still needs a nap time and isn't getting it now he is in Reception. Children are generally much busier at school than at home so even if he doesn't need a nap at home he may need it at school. How is his concentration level? Can he sustain attention for the time required on Reception 'tasks' or does he behave badly when he can no longer sustain attention? How is he developmentally in terms of motor skills (gross and fine), language (receptive and expressive) etc? In other words do you and his teachers feel he is able to meet the expectations of Reception or is he struggling? If so, maybe a further year in Nursery (or repeating Reception) would help. In terms of when he began to struggle at his previous Kindergarten did you find out reasons why (change in staff, routine, change in family circumstances etc.)

I think to be honest the school are really on the ball here and you should approach the chance of a meeting with enthusiasm. They are identifying his need for support and offering you the chance to have an open and honest discussion about the best way you can all do this together. Welcome the opportunity. I do not think for a minute the teachers are thinking it is 'your fault' nor are they wanting to have a confrontational or negative meeting. They want to share their concerns and find ways to work with you to help your son. Ask them tomorrow if they have any particular questions they want to put to you so that you can think about the answers and give them as much detail as possible. Take notes at the meeting, agree targets and time frames and also try to set a date for a follow up meeting to assess his progress and discuss what is and isn't working. If they are introducing a system of rewards and sanctions (not personally a fan of this btw) then agree very clear frameworks for how this will work. If they are offering services and support get a commitment from them of how and when they will start. These meetings are often very emotional from our point of view as parents and teachers understand that too, so don't feel bad if you are upset or Momma Bear is rearing her head smile This is your son, you cannot separate your emotions and concerns and be dispassionate and that is ok too. Allow them to have their say but also be clear about your own point of view and do not be afraid of saying what you do not see at home as this will hopefully help you find out what is in school that is causing him the difficulties. Good luck.

HerRoyalNotness Tue 26-Feb-13 18:40:38

My 5.5yo is similar to your DS I think. I'm constantly getting notes home from the teacher and from after school program about his behaviour, which is generally to a) lash out when frustrated, b) act silly in class c) not listen

We started seeing a therapist to help him. In her words, all of this behaviour is Typical for the age group. She looked like this hmm when I mentioned the letters from the school and asked me what they thought I should do when he acts out at school, when I'm.not.even.there.! So while the school can certainly discuss ideas with you on how to help your DS, they should be coming up with the bulk of it.

We have narrowed DSs troubles to a couple of things. Tiredness, he can't have any late nights whatsoever, so in bed by 8pm at the latest. The other is anxiety/worries. He is a little worrier, and this heightens his anxiety which leads him to misbehave. This is the major thing we are working on with him.

We don't allow any screens before school which has helped a lot.

He also needed to form a relationship with his teacher, which after 5 months of school he finally has, and will now listen to her, but not other adults assisting in the class.

I sent in some sensory type play things for DS to help him stop fidgeting during carpet time for example. Another thing to suggest help with this, is a therma-band that the teacher can tie around his chair legs and he can bounce his foot on it when he feels overenergised (although my DSs teacher sent the stuff home again hmm )

DeWe Tue 26-Feb-13 19:20:47

My year 1 ds is/was similar, but has been much better this year.

When I was called in at a similar time, it was to discuss introducing a "home/school" book which recorded what he'd done over the day.
So it might say:
Carpet time: Listened beautifully.
Activity: took some persuading but did it well.
Break: smile
Reading: Very wriggly at reading.
Lunch: Kicked someone sad
Activity: Refused to do any of it
Story time: Had to be moved because he was poking someone. Then listened well. Well done for good listening!

I could then talk it through with him, what he should have done, (eg asked the teacher if the person in front could move a bit because he felt squashed, rather than poking them to make them move) He also knew that I knew and he minded making me feel sad.

But you saying he behaves fine at home, is like ds. Only thing is one reason why ds behaves at home is because I know him, and can often prempt things that at school they don't have the luxury of doing as they have 29 other children. He's currently reading at my feet, and it's bath time. If I just say "time for bath" he'll get upset at being interrupted. So I'll probably say something like "hey, if we get upstairs quickly then maybe you can have bubbles in the bath!". And he'll be running upstairs as quickly as he can. Teachers don't have the luxury of being able to do that all the time.

cuggles Tue 26-Feb-13 19:44:42

Lots of excellent advice here so I wont repeat but as a teacher (secondary but pastoral head so lots of parent contact) I would just like to say, please don't give a thought to whether you cry or not, you will be neither the first or last and it just demonstrates your concern.
Additionally though, you may feel overwhelmed by what is discussed if it is suggestions for behaviour targets and perhaps, rewards systems etc for home/school to share or SEN assessments and this will be particularly hard to remember if you are emotional which it is natural you will be. I would, therefore, either take another adult with you to "remember" things and/or ask for a written summary of the main points to be given to you at a later date.
He is only 4 bless him, legally doesnt have to even be at school yet so it is going to be a challenge for him, esp. as young for year. My mum taught reception forever and always said the August birthdays found it tough, bet he'll be fine a few months from now!
With regards to ASD or similar, he is pretty young to make that diagnosis I would think but equally you can go down the assessment route and see what is what if you feel you should, if they do "recommend" a diagnosis, as a parent you don't have to accept it formally just yet you can see how things develop. Equally it can give school an idea of tactics etc to help if indeed there is at SEN issue. Good Luck!

cuggles Tue 26-Feb-13 19:47:11

opps cross posted a fair bit with adoptmama...sorry!

projectdoingmybest Tue 26-Feb-13 20:00:12

I have also namechanged for this.

I have huge sympathy for you. I have been in exactly the same position - sleepless nights (and in my case, the teacher indicated that she thought my dc was "on the spectrum" (Developmental Paedatrician thought otherwise). Personally, I think sometimes, they are just too young for formal settings - sitting and doing worksheets and responding to instructions at 4. In my dc's case, they are interested in lots of other things (other than the worksheet) - I think I would be at 4....

I am trying to be rational about it - however, I have huge huge sympathy. Please PM me if I can be of any support/help - I know what this can be like (I didn't sleep for weeks) sad

MrsMushroom Tue 26-Feb-13 20:07:35

From what you say OP he sounds simply young...this bloody country with their silly rules...sticking practical toddlers in formal environments!

My older DD was late July baby...she took a whole year to settle down in school....then she took until year 4 to catch up academically!

She's 8 year 4 and doing well. I used to get called in because of her having a tantrum, her not talking, her not joining in....there was some talk of spectrums....she's not got ANY problems now she's older.

If you ask me, she wasn't ready for school until she was about 6 and half! If only we lived in Switzerland or somewhere eh? grin

If your instinct is that he has no problems ie SEN....then remain calm and try to come up with some strategies with school.

Can I ask about your DS diet? My DD's behaviour improved massively with cutting out all processed foods and crappy sweets. ...and I mean MASSIVELY. It was like a light went on.

Food colouring seems to affect her badly.

TheSitChewAceChien Tue 26-Feb-13 20:10:07

You've been given some fab advice here, and I'm a bit useless at that, but wanted to offer you a hand to hold and some thanks

I had to have a chat about my DS' behaviour too. He's 6, and throws himself around and makes random loud noises when he's meant to be quiet (along with other stuff) I was mortified and really worried.

He's been put on a Individual Education Plan, with strategies to help him along, and his teachers are working hard with him to try and help him control himself!

Please don't worry too much, they've not called you in to tell you off. All the best to you and your DS. smile

PandaNot Tue 26-Feb-13 20:20:00

It is unlikely to be anything neurodevelopemntal e.g. ADHD, autism etc if he is markedly different at home than school. Even if the 'symptoms' were not the same in both settings there would be at least some indicators at home. It sounds to be like he's just a young one struggling to cope with the rules and routines of school.

projectdoingmybest Tue 26-Feb-13 20:32:11

It does emphasise to me that the approach of only going to school in the term you turn 5 is better than the current system

wheelsfelloff Tue 26-Feb-13 20:45:20

Gosh, thank you everyone. I went off for bedtime and cooking duties and return to such sage advice and lovely support. Thank you smile I will have a read properly tomorrow but quick answers:

He hated being in the nursery class today. I'm not sure why he was there but it sounded almost like a sort of time-out. He said he was bored and cried sad

Anxiety is an interesting point. One thing we have noticed is that when he has a bad phase, it often coincides with waking in the night and also (this will sound cuckoo, I realise) his imaginary friend turns up, who he bosses about like it's a control thing.

At the nursery, there were definitely friendships/groups that were not good. It was the same names always coming up. They described my DS's behaviour as 'worse than average but not the only one and not the worst.' It was all-round a terrible nursery with low morale and staff changes. Ah, the benefit of hindsight.

His diet is predominantly good but he does have sweets and things so we will try and cut those out. Likewise, the TV before school.

Thanks again. I feel better about it now although it is still 100% that I will blub grin

Stephanie16 Tue 26-Feb-13 21:02:07

Hi I got a daughter similar to your son. She fidgets, does not seem to listen and can't stay still. Had similar problems when she was in reception except that she does not hit etc.. Her main problems is her ability to stay still and listen. She is in year 1 this year and was born a couple days before sept so a young one in her class as well. what probably would happen is your son's school if behaviours carry might suggest he is seen by your gp to be referred. Mine did and they did notice my daughter is hyper but they have diagnosed her but will see again at some point. The reason is her only problems are can't stay still and does not always listen but she is very outgoing and is doing well at school is not disruptive. May be it is worth to get him check or wait till the end of reception to see whether there is an improvement. One thing I have read about lately and have put my daughter on is eye q tablets, have a look at this as apparently they help a lot with concentration etc.. which might help.

Stephanie16 Tue 26-Feb-13 21:04:03

Sorry I meant my daughter has not been diagnosed but will be seen again in some months.

lougle Tue 26-Feb-13 21:17:51

What time does he go to bed, out of interest?

My DD1 has SN (she goes to special school) but it is amazing how much tiredness affects the behaviour of all three of my children. We try to get them in bed and asleep by 7.30 at the latest, and often at the weekend by 6.30. They really do need that extra sleep (although they wake incredibly early because of DD1).

TreadOnTheCracks Tue 26-Feb-13 21:23:45

I think you've had fab advice here.

My DS is yr 1 (6) I cut out TV/any screens in the morning and I think his behaviour has improved. He has Omega 3 too as I don't think it can do any harm.

I hope it all goes well on Thursday.

TreadOnTheCracks Tue 26-Feb-13 21:26:13

My DS can't have any late nights either. In fact at 6 yo he regularly sleeps 13 hrs. What ever else he has always been a great sleeper!

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