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Should DS have a LA at preschool?

(32 Posts)
iwearflairs Sat 29-Sep-07 11:06:19

DS (3.5) is posing difficulties for staff at his private Montessori nursery! Since we all figured out that he has high abilitiy in reading and mathematics, no one seems to know quite how to handle it.

I have contacted NAGC to get advice which is happening this week, but in the meantime, the nursery keep asking me if it will be possible to get DS a Learning Assistant.

Does anybody have a parent's view on this idea?

The issue for them is that he tries to dominate his group teacher all the time and keep her attention on him all the time. She is obviously finding it difficult to manage him as well as all the other children's needs, e.g. he wants to sit on her lap all the time and asks her questions all the time.

I'm worried that an LA will just make him more different than he already is an exacerbate his difficulties socialising.

StarryStarryNight Sat 29-Sep-07 11:11:00

So, is the problem that he is good at reading and maths, or that he is very clingy?

I agree with you that getting him a teaching assistant may well be counter productive, he will just expect to always have one on one.

If you look at him as a child and not an intelligence, I would deal with his clingyness and social problems first, I think.

Why do the staff have a problem treating him as any other child?

KerryMum Sat 29-Sep-07 11:22:41

I suspect that you would have difficulty getting this in preschool.

Can I ask what sort of things you do with him at home?

snorkle Sat 29-Sep-07 14:45:40

Are they asking for your opinion on having a learning assistant or are they asking you to pay for it? If the former, then it can't hurt to try - if it doesn't work out then presumably it's a simple matter to try something else. It may make him feel different, but then maybe he does that already. If it's a free option then I'd be tempted to try it and see.

iwearflairs Sat 29-Sep-07 16:23:41

thank you to all of you for replying -

ssnight - I agree with your last comment and I think the problem for them is both - they think he is bored and that he is unstretched by the activities they have in th nursery, or more precisely that they can't stretch him without one-on-one. But it is also the question of him wanting full attention all the time - I agree with you that he needs to learn to share and take turns like all other children, especially in with regard to his teacher - and have said to them that we are going to institute 'playing on his own' time at home to help him get the idea. He does play alone quite often and quite well but admittedly it is usually when he wants to rather than because we've initiated it.

What would you do about clingyness?

KerryMum - at home I just play with him on a range of things, mostly books but also imagination games, board games, lego, blocks, somersaults and pillow fights type stuff. I have only just this week started on a maths ages 3-4 book because he just loves numbers and also it helps me to work out where his level is.

Snorkle - I think they basically want me to pay for a learning assistant which I will do if nec but I don't think it is really addressing the issue = he is going to have to learn to fit in with the group in mainstream school after all?

snorkle Sat 29-Sep-07 17:05:09

I think you are right - it might provide a short term fix for them, but if he's going to nursery to learn to socialise then it probably wont help him. How long does he spend there? Would shorter sessions be easier for him to manage?

iwearflairs Sat 29-Sep-07 17:08:29

he goes 5 mornings a week - 9:30 - 12:30. is that a long session? I think poss I need to get more to the bottom of what the schedule is each day and where things become difficult for staff. the more I think about it, the more I think you are right - it is a quick fix for them - and if we all work on the clinginess, he will pick it up eventually.

Now I am wondering about clinginess - is it anxiety, a need for challenge or just that he is used to so much attention at home?

coppertop Sat 29-Sep-07 17:28:47

I think that if the staff are having so much trouble with him that they think he needs 1:1 then they should seriously be considering a referral to an Ed Psych. They may also be able to help with ideas for clinginess etc.

Tbh I doubt you would get any funding for 1:1. Even children with dx'ed SN are not being given that level of help without a statement. If they are expecting you to pay for it yourself then it will involve a lot of money. My ds2 was given funding at pre-school for a similar amount of hours to your ds. The £60 wasn't anywhere near enough to cover full 1:1. It was used so that someone could be available if things went wrong and also so that ds2 could have someone to give him more challenging tasks to do (like many children with AS ds2 is very bright). Full 1:1 would cost a lot more.

roisin Sat 29-Sep-07 18:02:25

DS1 was very demanding of adult attention when he was this age, and not very good at interacting with his peers, for a whole variety of reasons. He was also useless at occupying himself. It's not necessarily related to intelligence either - ds2 has similar abilities to ds1 but he was very sociable, and could also occupy himself for hours at a time when he was 18 months.

It is crucial that your ds learns this year to play with other children, and to cope in a large group of children with few adults, and no 1:1 adult attention.

I feel that a 1:1 would be the worst possible thing for him atm.

If the Montessori nursery feel they cannot handle this, I would consider moving him tbh.

I would focus all your attention on teaching him to interact with other children, on their level. If he is bright you can teach him very explicitly what to say, how to behave, how to listen to them, what sort of games to play, etc.

And instigate lots of playdates at home, rather than him having time on his own or 1:1 with you.

Is he reading fluently already? If so, I would encourage him to spend time on his own reading books of an appropriate level as this will help an intellectual child to entertain themselves.

Btw G&T threads do tend to kick off on here, so feel free to CAT me and chat off board if you like, as your ds does sound similar in many ways to ds1. Ds1 is now 10, so we're definitely out the other side ... of that stage at least!

Twiglett Sat 29-Sep-07 18:05:52

agree with roisin wholeheartedly .. the emphasis should be on socialising so think 1:1 might be counter-productive

Blandmum Sat 29-Sep-07 18:15:14

If you are looking to go down the sepcial needs route for 1 to 1 funding you will find it very difficult to get funding unless your ds has quite marked special educational needs.

In the school I work in getting assigned 1 to 1 help only tends to happen when the needs are quite profound. So for example we have children wit a diagnosis of ASD or aspergers syndrome who come into school with no funding for an LA.

I also agree that an LA would be counter productive at this stage.

Would it be possible to agree behavioral targets for your son, that are short term achievable and measurable?

Hulababy Sat 29-Sep-07 18:18:02

At this young age I think rather than focusing on one to one attention for his higher abilities - which a nursery really should be able to deal with at this stage, it should not be outside their capabilities - then the nursery, and yourself where yyou can, need to be helping your DS to develop his social awareness and his abilities to pllay with other children. This will be an essential skill for him when he starts school in a year or so, and much easier if you/nursery can start helping him now.

snorkle Sat 29-Sep-07 18:18:54

3 hours is not unreasonably long at all but it still feels a long time for a 3 year old. If he's clingy because he craves attention or challenge, or even if he's anxious, it might be easier for him to learn a new behaviour for a shorter time to start with and then build up (with lots of rewards of course).

HonoriaGlossop Sat 29-Sep-07 18:35:52

I agree with Hula that for even THE most gifted 3 yr old, it shouldn't be outside the capabilities of nursery staff to find things to do to stretch him, (bless them!) smile

Maybe it may be worth considering another nursery if this one feel they can't cope with his attention needs; the dominating behaviour you describe does happen from time to time with kids this age....they should be able to deal with it really.

Have you any idea whether there are other nurseries around that you might think about?

iwearflairs Sat 29-Sep-07 20:07:14

thank you everybody - I am glad to have so much support for the fear that an LA would be sidelining. I think DS would Love it, but agree that he really help with the fitting in and socialising.

ct - I don't think funding would be possible either - it would be us who would pay and given that we don't really want to do it, it's an added disincentive! Do you know how much it costs btw? And also I don't believe that they really are getting THAT much trouble

thanks roisin for the offer - I may take you up on that! And I will discuss behavioural targets, and I will also consider moving him if it sounds as though they can't really or don't really want to handle it.

Does anyone have any suggestions of what a small, measurable and achieveable goal might be for clinginess?
I tried to get DS to play on his own for 30 mins this afternoon which he did with limited success and got a lot of praise. He is quite teachable, and I'm sure it would catch on.

TBH I'm not that bothered about any intellectual targets. {smile} at all comments about how hard it actually is to stretch a 3 yr old - I think this just goes to show that it is the behavioural part that bothers the nursery most.

iwearflairs Sat 29-Sep-07 20:07:52

sorry for gaps in sentences - wordprocessing/wine combination!

Blandmum Sat 29-Sep-07 20:09:44

If 30 minutes is too long, you have to reduce the time, I think, to something that is achievable. Say to play alone for 10 minutes, or possibly even 5.

Or in nursery to play at an activity not of his choosing.

They have to be achievable and measurable so that the nursery staff can work towards giving him the skills that he needs to be more independent

iwearflairs Sat 29-Sep-07 22:31:20

Hi martianbishop - if you are still around (was interrupted by dinner) - thank you for that idea - I think 30 was probably a bit optimistic on my part. will start with ten and build up. Also, the idea of an activity not of his choosing is an important one but sometimes explodes (NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I DON'T LIKE IT!!!!!) and refuses to do things when asked while he is in the middle of something...they obviously just leave him to get on with it.

It is helpful to have the right kind of language to use with them, too, about giving him skills (which I clearly need to help him much more myself sad)

Piffle Sat 29-Sep-07 22:41:54

Does the ~Montessori get LEA funding or is it totally private?

iwearflairs Sun 30-Sep-07 08:07:34

I don't know, I would have to find out. Would it make a difference?

twocutedarlings Sun 30-Sep-07 15:06:33

What have nursery done so far to help your DS improve his social skills ??

Blandmum Sun 30-Sep-07 15:11:12

For the behavioural targets you have to have something that is achievable and measurable and have a time frame.

So, DC will have tried an activity not of his choosing by half term. Or of that is too much, 2 activities, that sort of thing. You have to have a timeframe, so you and the nursery workers can agree if he has met them or not. If he has, then that is the time to move on to a new target.

But the key is having bite sized things that the child can actually manage. Nor a bland 'Be better behaved' IYSWIM.

coppertop Sun 30-Sep-07 15:18:48

IWF - What worked for my ds2 was if the staff chose an activity for him that had a definite end IYSWIM rather than just a time-scale of x minutes. When the activity was completed ds2 was allowed to put it in the "out-tray" and go and do something of his own choosing. When he had his next review this was increased to 2 tasks. This worked in two ways. Not only did it give ds2 something more challenging to do but was also a gradual preparation for when he started school, where he would be expected to do things even if he didn't want to. To help with social skills the staff would sometimes invite another child to the table to come and do the activity with ds2.

iwearflairs Sun 30-Sep-07 19:50:39

thank you for those ideas - am going to come up with some ideas to suggest to them at least to get the conversation going.

How often is it advisable to do reviews?

twocute - I don't think they have done much tbh, except for trying to get him to play cooperatively, i.e. not destroy the game if someone comes and takes something away or tries to join in, or else to try to use his words when frustrated instead of exploding. I don't think the emphasis has been much on pairing him up with someone and they have been waiting for advice on appropriate activities. I think they are nice teachers but really I don't think they are quite clear or else I can't think why they would be suggesting an LA - throwing hands up in the air, the more I think about it.

coppertop Sun 30-Sep-07 21:16:17

At pre-school level ds2 had reviews every 6 weeks or so. Sometimes targets were carried over for the following 6 weeks if they were working well but hadn't yet been achieved.

At school age it's usually once a term for reviews.

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