Settling in to primary school; help, please!(16 Posts)
5 year old DS started primary school 3 weeks ago.
He has been in childcare since 5 months old and always been a popular well liked boy. He thrived at his nursery which was quite unstructured and forgiving of his interests and probably quite rigid personality. For example he tends to be obsessed with one topic at a time, then nothing else for a long period. So it was dinosaurs from about 18 months to 2.5, space from 2.5 to 4.5y and the past 6 months it's been marine life. He is very difficult to divert from his particular interest. So the nursery worked around it with painting, reading, outdoor activities etc often being developed around his theme. Every single drawing we would get home during these periods would relate to these interests and nothing else. If he is allowed to indulge his interest he is a pretty easy, pleasant boy. Even better if he is challenged with new information, new books on his topic all the time. He has a massive vocabulary and gets up to encyclopaedic type knowledge and reading on his interests because he spends so long on them. Any time we had any kind of behavioural issues at nursery it was recognised he needed to be challenged a little more, or be allowed to take time on his own for his interest. All fine....BUT...
He has now started primary school. More structure. Routines that are to the benefit of all children. Classes have more structure. The topics are dictated (Olympic theme for everything at the moment).
It's not going well. He is reluctant to be there in the morning. Tearful. Has to be prised off me (never, ever an issue at nursery). He doesn't listen to instructions and doesn't interact with the other children. Just tries to do his own thing and is defiant when required to conform.
I have talked and talked to him about school, teacher being "the boss", the importance of listening and following instructions. He's just not getting it.
He has no difficulty with being independent otherwise: toilets, chooses his lunch, clothes and shoes on and off for gym. It simply seems to be the structure and authority and general need for conformity that he is struggling with.
I just don't know how to make him understand. Any tips, hints, books I can look at would be great. I admit to being at a bit of a loss. DH (dad) is a bit of a brainiac too, who it could be said lacks common sense and maybe some practical life skills. I'm a much more practical type and am just finding this difficult, and heart breaking. Hate to see him struggle.
Sorry that's quite long. Hope someone can offer advice.
Incidentally I don't think he has ASD, but he is certainly a pretty extreme geek, as is dad. I'm pretty geeky too, to be fair. We are a close knit family unit of 4 but none of us hugely interested in socialising with others. Happy introverts I suppose?
Surely a good teacher should be able to come? Have you explained how you feel to him/ her?
A lot of what you have said suggests Aspergers to me - the obsession of specific topics, 'rigid' personality, not interacting with other children etc. However, I would be wary of an armchair diagnosis. My little brother was much like this though, was diagnosed aged 7. How is he with other children generally?
It is difficult as his current obsessions won't be able to be indulged at school as it has done at nursery, and that must be making this transition particularly difficult. Would you be able to make a meeting (without your son) to discuss your concerns? That could also help put a plan in place/see if support is needed.
What are the school saying? Is his "defiance" coming out as behaviour requiring consequences yet? To be honest, if this is the first time he is being required to conform then you could be in for a bit of a rough ride until he gets used to it. What is he like at home if he can't get what he wants? How have you responded to that in the past?
I'm a little worried about this with my ds as he likes everything on his terms and has been in a nursery where they're mostly left to their own devices...
It could also just be him adjusting to a massive transition in your ds case - three weeks will be when it's hitting home that this is it for every week day. Was he at nursery full time?
Thanks. I had a feeling someone would suggest Aspergers. I don't think he crosses that clinical threshold (I work in this field) but is definitely a full on geek. As I said, dad and I are similar. Geeks, high number of autistic personality traits, introverted...but otherwise happy and successful.
I don't think his defiance is leading to specific "bad" behaviour. Just non compliance, doing his own thing.
He's alright at home. Strong willed. He's not a child you can negotiate with -his vocabulary and confidence in speaking with adults is so developed that you'd get stuck in an argument with him for hours. So we mainly 1-2-3-Magic for discipline where necessary at home. But that's not to suggest we have a big problem with discipline. Gets up, does what he's supposed to, eats well, occupies himself with playdoh, drawing, painting, goes to bed when he should. If we step in it's usually between him and his little brother (2) and that's usually driven by the youngest who is a very physically boisterous boy and takes rough and tumble a bit far (or to be fair, foists it on unwilling participants, they really are opposites).
He was at nursery 4 days a week, so school has just taken it up a day.
I've called the school to see if his teacher can talk with me after school today, should be fine. Anxious now!
Try not to be anxious! You and his teacher want what's best for him, and working together is the best way to achieve that.
I too work in this field and agree he probably wouldn't meet clinical threshold, a lot like my ds (and dh!). There does seem to be an increasingly large cohort of children like this - autistic traits but no developmental characteristics- and it's hard to know how best to support them. Good luck with school - I'm anticipating a similar scenario when ds starts next week!
The world of school doesn't seem to be made for introverted geeks. I need to find a way to make this all less of a struggle for him before my happy healthy boy starts to suffer.
My ds is a bit like this. He had problems at school because the preschool just worked round him-which I said at the time wouldn't be helpful long term.
It took him really a year to work out that he did have to comply with the school when I reckon if they'd insisted at preschool it would have been no more than a couple of weeks.
It's why I always roll my eyes when I see posts saying that it's up to the teacher to make it interesting so the children want to learn. You can't base everything around the Spitfire and other WWII fighter planes-and it certainly isn't fair to expect a teacher to do that for one child, and the other 29 would soon get bored.
Witchend that is almost exactly the conversation I had with his teacher this afternoon.
Basically we chatted about the fact that his special interests were always encouraged and indulged at nursery/pre-school. In fact he ended up leading the themes and topics of interest. Which meant that he never really had to comply. I think he was so strong willed but so easy and likeable when his interests were indulged that this just worked for everyone. If he wasn't interested in something and took himself off to do his own thing they allowed that too.
I was pleased to hear that she has picked up on the fact that he is bright, well ahead on his reading etc...she had already worked out it is a compliance issue rather than an ability issue.
We agreed that it is important that he learns the routines, and need for compliance at primary school and although it will be difficult for a few months she seemed really optimistic that he will learn and get there. She seemed to be quite relieved that I (and DH) agree that learning to comply is important -we aren't encouraging him to walk his own path or be defiant in any way. We talked about routines at home, discipline at home (123 magic is very similar to the traffic light system and "house" tokens they are using) and routines at school. All sounds reasonable and sensible and now that I have a better idea of the routine he is walking in to I can reinforce what is expected of him in the morning.
It's going to be hard...hopefully we'll get there.
The other thing is she confirmed he basically ignores her or covers his ears when he doesn't want to hear what she is saying. Walks away, takes himself off rather than following instructions with the herd. So not actively badly behaved but quite clearly not accepting the routines or her authority. I am going to need to give him a pep talk about this each morning I think.
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