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6 year old son won't engage in class

(27 Posts)
inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 21:32:57

Does anybody have any advice or similar experience to this?

I have recently had feedback from school that my 6 year old boy will not engage in any aspect of lessons and will only complete work if somebody sits watching over his shoulder and is contstantly on his case. For example, his teacher showed me a list of 20 or so words that he had said he didn't know in class today and I know he does from his homework. He has been really acting up and being quite disruptive and his very experienced teacher is getting exasperated. She seems to think he is bright enough, but just does't want to do any of the work.

He also doesn't want to be involved in any structured group activity outside of school (and never has, even since he was a toddler) and I have tried him in many over the last 2 years - swimming, karate, football. None have been a success, and up until now, I had decided to let such ventures slide if he was not enjoying it as I thought it would be a bad idea to push things that he didn't like. I am now wondering if this is completely the wrong thing and I have to come down on him hard with constant structure to turn it around?

He is so negative about school and learning, and quite down on himself, although (I think) I really do try to encourage him with praise and positive messages I can't seem to get them through.

I am on the brink of turning from a fairly laid back but loving parent into a really really strict one over this issue, as I am feeling worried that I must have got it so wrong for him to be behaving like this.

Can anyone help?

choccypig Fri 05-Sep-08 21:35:54

Have you checked his eyesight and hearing?

Even a slight hearing impairment could cause him to switch off if sounds are washing over him.

zwiggy Fri 05-Sep-08 21:37:21

not really sure but wanted to bump. Has the school involved the senco or ed psych? better that than the teacher telling you they are 'getting exasperated' hmm

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 21:41:13

he was settling down okay towards the end of last year. To be honest, what he si communicating loud and clear is that he just hates the whole school experience.

Hearing and eyesight all okay, although we spent a long time establishing that as his level of engagement in the nursery sight tests were similar. He is in the middle group in his class thus far in spite of these problems....

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 21:42:59

Sorry - should they be involving psyche?

zwiggy Fri 05-Sep-08 21:44:21

bullying? loneliness?

zwiggy Fri 05-Sep-08 21:49:07

well sencos and ed psychs deal with all problems in schools, not just a special / developmental / specific need.

I teach 15 year olds who can't engage in nnormal school and the reasons are so numerous. but it usually goes wrong at secondary level when kids start truanting, so it would be so much better if it was looked at now, and then he could be monitored in year 7 when he makes the transition.

Does he do any activities such as musical instrument which can be individual and/or group?

Any siblings?

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 21:49:39

No signs of bullying and a firm friendship group. Seems popular and very social.

Has no problems engaging in activities he likes, such as being up to his elbows in a box of lego.

dramaqueen Fri 05-Sep-08 21:50:36

I am sure that becoming strict with him is the wrong thing to do. He needs someone (i.e. you) to listen to what he is trying to tell you. He sounds very unhappy at school. If he is down on himself he probably doesn't think he is good at anything. That may be why he doesn't want to join in structured activities. I think you need to get to the bottom of this, probably with some help.

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 21:54:38

He has a little sister and is, in the main, a very loving brother to her.

We have a piano in the house and little guitar suitable size for him, but to be honest I have had such a negative reaction to learning anything that I would be a little apprehensive about introducing him to this. Do you see a pattern emmerging here?

Same thing with school - the less he does, the more the teachers are on at him, the less fun he is having and so on.....arghh!

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 22:01:29

The problem with trying to get to the bottom of it is I just cant seem to make any in roads. It goes like "but why do you hate it?"..."just hate it"...."what is it you hate about it"...."everything".....and so on.

He just doesn't have the means to articulate the problem or how he really feels to me and he gets more teary and upset the more I probe.

Anybody with experience in this area got any suggestions as to how to get him to open up?

zwiggy Fri 05-Sep-08 22:06:17

not really my area cos i get them when they have been out of school for years. But i would say anythin that allows a bit of expressive / creative outlet is best way forward for you. But would defo get the senco and school professionals involved.

Is he happy in other situatioons ie at home / with friends?

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 22:14:31

I think so....god, I am sounding like a rubbish mum, not being able to say with absolute confidence.

Well he just had a great summmer break playing with his friends on his bike, hanging out of trees and of course watching more telly than probably is normal - which is actually probably normal in terms of how kids spend their summers.

His only gripe, in terms of general unhappiness, is that he doesn't enjoy my work (i.e. can get a bit glum about Mummy having to go to work)

He is loving and sensitive and I think wonderful. I have never been tough on him, except when he crosses the line and never forced him to do things he doesn't enjoy which is why I am so torn now as to whether I should be tougher on him now.

Might get the paints out tomorrow and see how that goes, as like your creative tip!

HonoriaGlossop Fri 05-Sep-08 22:20:51

I don't know about professionalising it with senco etc. Am just thinking aloud. But it sounds as if school is just not engaging him at all and that's an age old boy-story isn't it? I know lots of boys (mine included) who hate school. He is occasionally gripped by something they study; he likes learning about countries. He likes playtime and lunchtime. But apart from that, school is like an alien language to him. There is no impetus to learn to read/write even, with my ds and he's six too, but he does have some SEN relating to muscle delays which make writing and drawing harder.

My ds is also incredibly similar with not wanting clubs or organised out of school activities. We go swimming as a family and that's it. I think it's not a problem; I'm not a club-goer, or joiner, either. There is plenty of time as they get older for them to develop enthusiams. Far better to follow them (even if it takes till teenage) than to impose a timetable IMO. Out of school they need their freedom IMHO if they hate school this much!

At six I believe some boys are still not ready for school. And school is not often geared to the interest of 6 yr old boys.....

zwiggy Fri 05-Sep-08 22:21:32

good luck. i will keep watching and have a think.. Can't ask any of my colleagues cos am on maternity leave and my ds doesn't ever sleep so can't really think straight but will mull it over night.

some schools run little projects that invite various students to join in like team building activities and such so is worth speaking to head teacher.

what about scouts? Drama club?

HonoriaGlossop Fri 05-Sep-08 22:21:46

oh, and we also have a piano in the house in which he has no interest, and if learning it is suggested he physically recoils! I just think it has to come from them - or not.

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 22:36:45

Oh thank you, your posts are all helping, in particular the ones that suggest it is normal, but that is probably becase it is what I want to hear....the only thing that makes me think this is anything other than normal six year old boy behaviour is the fact that the teacher has taken time out of her day to speak to me about it.

We are about to have a go at ski-ing tomorrow, although I have probably put him right off be coming down on him like a ton of bricks at bedtime....insisting that room was tidy, that he must wear his pyjamas to bed (yes I know that is probably a normal thing but ordinarily the football shirt would have been a non issue) and even adopting schoolish polocies on earning your free time based on good behaviour and losing 10 minutes off bed time for bad behaviour.

Who am I kidding - it's not even sustainable!smile

Will continue to consider if I feel it is normal over the coming weeks as the situation is being 'monitored'.

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 22:44:48

Oh and the scouts / drama suggestions sound great to me, but really not so good to him ..... the 'recoil in horror' reaction is very familiar, followed by a swift reminder that he just likes to "do his own thing"

Nobody yet has told me he needs a swift kick up the b...side (not literally, obviously) although I wouldn't have been surpised if you had!

zwiggy Fri 05-Sep-08 22:44:51

oh of course its normal, i wasn't meaning that there is anything wrong at all but just the opposite sort of, meaning that involving other professionals isn't as serious and formal as it sounds and that they do deal with seemingly minor issues like not engaging in schoolwork, and that its bothering you so they should do something, and not to be worried about it . soz.

HonoriaGlossop Fri 05-Sep-08 22:45:36

i think part of the problem is that there is now so much organised for kids....I mean he's still only six and already you've tried numerous clubs and are getting to see it as an issue that he hasn't engaged.....I'm not criticising you for that, you're only being a concerned mum - but 100 years ago when I were a lass, I had not been offered one single, solitary club. Aged about 7 I badgered my mum like mad to send me to Ballet, and she agreed. And that was it.

i think you should relax and chill about the out of school stuff. If you do family stuff together, go places, and read books with him, he is having a life rich in experience and he WILL at some point get his own enthusiasm/s.

With school I think you're wise to just monitor it and mull it over smile remember the teacher is under pressure to get all the children within a 'range', meet some targets etc etc and a child who is not quite 'fitting in' in terms of output is an 'inconvenient' child really. IMHO. You can take the longer view and look at his progress over the coming two or three years whereas the teacher has just 3 terms to get her stuff done. IYSWIM?

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 23:00:09

I think you are right about too much on - I have tried him with a few things, but trust me this is over 2 years and really we mean 'tried'. Neither football or karate made it past a month and he wanted to go along becuase his friends were going (and continue to) so really we are talking about him having attended less than 8 organised sessions in the course on a full year and stopped as soon as he was not enjoying them. I know kids that attend that many in a 2-3 week period, and I absolutley agree it is nuts. I don't have time to fit in a lot of these things, but it is important to give him the opportunity to try if he is interested, which has was before he tried them.

All I am saying is that he doesn't seem to take to them, not that I want him to, and that this seems to be consistent with what the school is telling me.

Okay, maybe I am kidding myself. I must be feeling the preassure for him to fit in in some way. I was starting to feel that maybe he needed more structure as everything seems to have unravelled after a totally unstructured summer.....

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 23:06:03

It has been 'pointed out' to me as an issue that he won't engage, not that I have gone looking for it. It was also pointed out by his swimming teacher at which point I abandoned lessons and just take him swimming with us, which he loves.

Seriously, I have always been aware of it, but it has never been a problem. Or rather, I didn't think of it as one....until now. sad

Thank you all for your advice though!

HonoriaGlossop Fri 05-Sep-08 23:07:20

I know what you mean actually - DS practically feral after the summer, it's an effort to get him to sit and listen to his bedtime story, something he has ALWAYS loved!

i'm sure things will settle a bit as we get into the new term.

I do sympathise though. As ds gets older and more 'boyish' I am definitely feeling that it's a very tricky path to tread tbh. I felt I was on planet 'boy' earlier when ds started telling me something, I was interested so went closer to him to talk to him, and he got cross and strange about it. DH immediately explained I'd put ds on the spot and made him feel pressured. And in fact I do realise that my best chats with ds are when we're doing something other than focussing on each-other; eating, or putting lego together or something. Boys are foreign. We are different. It's not easy!

Anyway good luck.

inamuddle Fri 05-Sep-08 23:10:52

Yeah, maybe I should go and read that book....whats it called 'Raising Boys' or something. I always use to think all the gender stuff was overplayed, but no longer sure at all!!! Thanks.

zwiggy Sat 06-Sep-08 11:01:51

camping?

good luck. i have got a baby boy and I think i will face the same probs cos he seems a bit of a sensitive soul,.

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