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5yo very unhappy at school

(16 Posts)
Notapodling Wed 16-Mar-16 14:12:29

My 5 yo DS is in Y1 and having a very difficult time at school. This is very, very long (sorry) but I want to provide all the information, and I would very much appreciate some advice.

We moved to a different area about two-thirds of the way through DS's reception year. He adored his first school, so much so that he'd argue with me because he didn't want to go home, and got dressed in his uniform on Saturdays and insisted that we go check it was open 'just in case'.
He was fine at the new school, but wasn't as enthusiastic. He also got into a few squabbles with other children. His reception teacher mentioned it when they happened, but wasn't flagged as anything out of the ordinary.

That changed completely in Year 1. He complains every morning that he doesn't want to go, says he hates it and he's bored. He's also been behaving increasingly badly in class - a combination of being disruptive but also hitting other children.
FWIW, he's stubborn and occasionally argumentative at home, but not excessively so, and there's no hitting.

I was called in to have a meeting with his class teacher and the head teacher about his behaviour some months ago.
The head did mention that some of the difficulty is that he's very advanced in some areas, and can seem very adult sometimes in his understanding and language, but is very much still a five year old emotionally.
They focused more on the fact that he doesn't have any siblings and that he needed to socialise more. That may be true, but he's at school with other children til three every day, at the childminder with other children until five, and does sport on the weekend, so I don't think that's it.

The school have said that his maths skills are 'truly exceptional' and when I ran into the TA, she said he's difficult to assess on reading because he's going up levels so fast. He's always been absolutely fascinated by how things work and I'm constantly googling to find the answers to his questions. He's happy as Larry and can focus for quite long periods when he gets to do something new.

His teacher is focusing purely on his behaviour and doesn't seem that interested in how much his attitude to school has changed or engaging him further because he's already exceeding his maths and reading targets.

He's said over and over that he's bored, and I think he simply doesn't have the emotional maturity to sit still all day without something engaging his brain.

I know the behaviour is a huge problem and disruptive for the other children, but their methods aren't working. It's simply getting worse, I strongly feel that his unhappiness and frustration at school is at the root of it.

We've implemented a home/school book in which she adds all the'incidents'. However there are also things like 'hitting the table with his ruler' and 'not putting the lid on the glue stick'. I get that he needs to learn discipline, but he is still just five and there seem to be a lot of petty infractions.
When I've raised his unhappiness, his teacher just repeats that 'He's in Y1 now, not reception so he just needs to get used to being in the big class.'

He's been in tears some evenings and has said multiple times that 'I try to be good but I just don't remember'

Now, I've been told they're going to get him to see the SENCO about his behaviour. I am very frustrated. I'm hoping the SENCO will help, but I'm not sure if she's the right person for this.

If anyone has any advice as to how I can approach the school about this, I'd really appreciate it. I've got a meeting booked with his teacher next week.

gatorgolf Wed 16-Mar-16 21:17:58

Sorry I can't be any help but I had to look who had posted this to check it wasn't me and I had forgotten. Your ds Sounds exactly the same as mine except for the having moved schools bit. My ds is also age 5, year one and exceptional at maths and good at reading. His school behaviour just seems to be getting worse, he's mainly ok at home, not perfectly well behaved by any means but no where near the scale of behaviour he shows at school. I'm not sure what to do, running out of ideas. We are seeing a paediatrician at end of month, we also see Senco at school

Thewolfsjustapuppy Wed 16-Mar-16 21:23:40

I could have written your post. DS is also yr 1 we also moved schools and areas at easter time last year from a school he loved and a teacher who totally 'got' him to a new academy school in a socially deprived area (the only primary school place available in the town).
I don't know if I can offer much advice I'm afraid as we are still working our way through it all. I wouldn't be put off by the offer of the SENCO involvement, as far as I am aware SENCOs are responsible for all children with special educational needs - that includes the very able. I was really put out when DS's school first introduced SENCO to his education but it has been nothing but positive for him.
DS has a strong personality and he does clash fairly robustly with the other "characters" (his teachers words not mine) in his class but he is slowly developing social skills and has at least one very good friend now - he is 6 and September born so a little older than your DS so possible got a little more maturity on his side.
Is your DS's teacher doing any extension activities with him? has she spelt out what are her academic expectations of him? She obviously has behavioural expectations.

Lurkedforever1 Thu 17-Mar-16 13:06:38

I would approach it from the angle he's bored. And while I agree with school re the behaviour, surely the first resort should be tackling the most obvious cause and providing him with suitable activities rather than him making his own disruptive ones up. And while all dc have to learn to behave even when they aren't interested, no other 5yr olds within the usual ability range are expected to do so for 6 hours a day, so a very able one shouldn't be either. Reception is easier to deal with because able kids can still amuse themselves through play cos it's informal, so the slow academics aren't a big deal. But the more formal y1 learning is harder to escape if you're bored.

Dds primary were very good, but even so, during the brief spell of a teacher who tried to make her work at the speed of the rest, and the odd supply her behaviour and enjoyment changed. Nothing but usual mild kid stuff in her case, but always clustered around the too slow work periods. However as they were comparitively rare, it was easy for her to learn to deal with it, which clearly isn't the case for your ds. I'd also become seriously disruptive and a big troublemaker by my early teens, purely because school bored me rigid.

irvine101 Thu 17-Mar-16 16:46:01

I can understand seriously bored teenager acting disruptive, but I wonder how can 5 year old get so bored at whole aspect of school. They may be good at maths or literacy, but at yr1, it's only small part of every day life at school.

Thewolfsjustapuppy Thu 17-Mar-16 17:55:45

Not that small, in DS's school literacy and numeracy takes up the first two class hours of the day every single day. This did result in some behavioural issues early on as he was bored and his teacher is NQT so not experienced in managing highly able children, DS seemed to spend a lot of time on the thinking chair hmm. She has got to grips with it now and was so much more confident with me at the last PT meeting - I feel kinda proud of her grin - DS is being well challenged in maths and she has shipped him up two classes for literacy.

Lurkedforever1 Thu 17-Mar-16 19:15:19

irvine depends on the school. And it's not just maths and literacy, it's all the other subjects too. Even if it's a new topic, going too slow/ too shallow can be very boring.

irvine101 Thu 17-Mar-16 20:30:38

OK, I agree, Lurked, it may depends on school. My ds loves school because of play time!

Notapodling Fri 18-Mar-16 14:07:44

Thanks for all your support and suggestions. There's definitely a correlation between the ordinary school day and those when they're doing something interesting.
He's had a good couple of days on the behaviour front, and this has correlated to a very specific project that they've been working on which he is very excited about.

DelphiniumBlue Fri 18-Mar-16 14:24:25

Most schools now have maths and English all morning. English is often differentiated by outcome, so the more able might write paragraphs whilst the others are doing sentences, but even so the more able need to be shown how to make their sentences complex.
Maths should be differentiated in the work set - often 3 way differentiation will be insufficient .
It sounds as if your son is very, very bored. I can remember feeling that I could not possibly sit through another crushingly dull day at school, feeling like I wanted to scream. Year 1 is really early to be so bored, though.
The Senco should be able to help, make sure you ask what strategies they can put into place, and then monitor it to make sure it happens.
Can you give D's a few strategies on how to help himself? Make sure he always has decent reading material on hand, show him how to make up his own maths challenges, give him things to do in his head while sitting quietly.

irvine101 Fri 18-Mar-16 16:23:20

My ds was repeatedly put on computer to work on himself in YR1. He was really bored, because they put him on times table site which he already mastered ages ago. I made a list of website he enjoyed and gave it to the teacher. Some of them were approved and he was allowed to go on to it.

Cuttheraisins Fri 18-Mar-16 18:17:44

The point I would like to make is that boredom can happen to children who are advanced in specific areas, but it also happens to children of all abilities. Unfortunately children of all abilities have to learn to deal with being stimulated some of the time, but not all of the time - what would a school day look like if a child was pushed, stretched, coached all day, from the moment they step through the door right up to 3 pm? That's not possible. Schools don't have enough staff to do this, and social skills are important, especially at such a young age. I think it's very unfair to justify a child's bad behaviour with being 'gifted' and saying that he is so clever that he misbehaves because he is bored. He is misbehaving because he is not making the right choices. A Senco should be able to have a well rounded plan, but there is no way that your son will be challenged all the time, every minute of the day. And he will have to learn to do as he is told, and behave well and respect other children, whether he is smart or not!

Lurkedforever1 Sat 19-Mar-16 07:45:28

cut but the point is very able dc can and do get bored for all the same reasons dc of all abilities do. And yes they need to learn to still behave in those situations. However in addition to that ops ds and others have the additional boredom of working below ability.

Nobody would expect the average ability y1 to deal well with the tedium of day after day of lessons on what eg the colours blue, red and green are, so it's unfair to expect an able dc to do so when it comes to work appropriate for the average ability y1.

Nobody is saying they should be stimulated all day, just that they should be treated the same as the rest, i.e offered work of an appropriate level. Which is perfectly possible.

AppleAndBlackberry Sat 19-Mar-16 07:59:42

It sounds like it would be good to have the Senco's involvement. Plenty of bright or very bright children are not disruptive so he may benefit from some extra help managing his behaviour. It can be frustrating if they're not challenging him but in my experience (DD now in Y2) a lot of tasks will be open ended so they can challenge themselves if they have the imagination/inclination. Obviously they do a lot of things like handwriting practice in Y1 which may be frustrating but is important.

Cuttheraisins Sat 19-Mar-16 08:51:52

Op you should ask the teacher if they already differentiate the work for children. I would be very surprised if they don't. Many schools will have specific work for 3 or 4 children who are more advanced in their learning, and will also have work specifically for the few children who struggle with a specific area, and some will work one-to one if they really struggle with a specific aspect (number bonds, for example, or phonics, or children with dyslexia/dyspraxia). Some more advanced children might also have small group learning but ask them how they will manage the learning of more advanced children in the new curriculum. That will be a very interesting one.

NotCitrus Sat 19-Mar-16 09:15:51

This could have been ds in Y1. Thing is, he actually was and still is in Y2 "behind" in some of the social skills - while other kids were picking them up from having 28 others in class and after-school club etc, he wasn't and would then get overwhelmed and try to hide. The SENCO really helped and he practised various conversations and things. It got better in the last term of Y1 as the learning became more formal and it was clear to him he actually was learning stuff (when it was disguised as play, he claimed to be bored!) and also he knows what level of chat is OK and will talk about his work with friends.

Y2 he has blossomed, being encouraged to write loads in the style of characters of his choice, but getting support with PE and role-playing conversations. There's always a Maths Challenge of the week on the wall plus a philosophy question and knowledge challenge, for any teacher who has run out of differentiated work to point at. So far the kids have no idea what SATs are, which suits me fine. Now he's being challenged by joined-up writing - how is your ds on that?

I would talk to your school about your ds's emotional skills and what you and school can both do about them, as well as ensuring wider challenges are available. Personally I send ds for the social skills as I know I can teach the academics myself, but as a possibly-ASD anxious geek I need them to help there.

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