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Teaching assistant said 4 year old DD is sometimes "vacant"

(56 Posts)
MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 20:04:40

And it's annoyed me because I don't know a child who is LESS vacant than DD.

I'm not naive...I have an older DD who is prone to daydreaming....and at one point was assessed for ASD.

I know the signs.

I feel angry because this teaching assistant said that DD goes vacant when asked to do something like number work or any "proper" work.... then said (during parent's evening) "Yes and Mrs X also agreed with me didn't she?" and turned to DDs teacher to confirm this.

The teacher nodded and said "It's not that she's being naughty though...or deliberately provocotive, it's just that she's 4 and would rather play."

What were they getting at? Am I being overly defensive? I just don't think it's a very nice word to use for a 4 year old who is bright, chatty, sociable and articulate.

At pre school she was known for her sociability and her sense of humour

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 20:05:31

To clarify...the TA said for example, she'll say "Come on DD lets do some numbers" and DD will seem vacant.

Her hearing is fine.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 30-Oct-12 20:07:42

I was vacant. Up until about 14. Everyone would mention it - I think they wanted to suggest that I'd do better if I could concentrate more, but I couldn't.

She'll be fine. I was. If she's sociable she's clearly patient with people, and you'd know if she was struggling, so she's clearly listening when she needs too.

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 20:08:16

But why mention it? If there wasn't something she was "getting at"?

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 20:08:51

DD is inquisitive, keen to learn...loves doing her work from school at home with me....loves reading books etc.

DawnOfTheDee Tue 30-Oct-12 20:09:58

Tbh the TA sounds like she was purely being descriptive. I'm not sure what other word she should have used...vacant seems to describe the scenario accurately which is what is needed.

I'm guessing that the TA won't have known her hearing is fine so it's worth her flagging this sort of thing up in case there is a problem.

Obviously I can't hear the tone & how she said it but from your account i think it sounds like she was probably trying to be helpful?

DawnOfTheDee Tue 30-Oct-12 20:10:37

And children can be very different at school to how they are at home...

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 20:11:13

I am notoriously paranoid after having a bit of a mare with DD1 tbh.

I suppose it's a caase of MY CHILD IS PERFECT and don't you dare say she's not.

When in reality DD is a handful. Was the TA trying to say in a nice way that DD is a bit obstructive do you think?

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 20:11:38

I meant to smile after shouting about my perfect child btw. smile

DawnOfTheDee Tue 30-Oct-12 20:12:38

I think her teacher probably summed up the situation when she said "It's not that she's being naughty though...or deliberately provocotive, it's just that she's 4 and would rather play."

Dozer Tue 30-Oct-12 20:13:49

My DD goes (deliberately) glazed and blank when asked to do something (at home, sometimes at school but not so much) that doesn't appeal, or when bored (eg church, assembly) "vacant" actually describes it quite well, but perhaps that word has negative connotations for you?

DD also has glue ear, which didn't get picked up for a while as we assumed she was doing her blank thing!

I was like this too and still am, is a life-saver in dull meetings!

DawnOfTheDee Tue 30-Oct-12 20:14:14

Sorry posted too soon....meant to add 'which probably applies to most 4 year olds when they start school!' smile

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 20:15:08


I know.

DH got all defensive when I told him...he's worried they'll "Crush" her personality. It's so bloody hard leaving them with a load of people I don't know sometimes.

I am going in next week to learn about phonics as I have no idea. Older DD was educated privately till 7 and they didn't use them. So I feel bad that I've not brought DD2 along a bit more.

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 20:16:11

Dozer right...I'll watch out for this vacancy then....maybe I've not noticed it as a tactic of hers.

She is a handful sometimes...a bit rebellious.

Dozer Tue 30-Oct-12 20:21:07

The good thing about this kind of resistance (?) is that it's hard to crush! I recently asked DD what went on in assembly (she'd complained about the hard floor and having to sit still): "teachers were talking too much, so I didn't listen and thought about chocolate" grin

On phonics, there is loads of great stuff on the internet, tips in primary education here, stuff on pinterest, ceebeebies site etc, it can be quite fun (sometimes).

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 20:26:38

Thanks Dozer I knew I'd feel better after sharing here. Bless your DD and her uncrushable resistance. grin

Pretzelsmakemethirsty Tue 30-Oct-12 21:13:28

Some teaching assistants are vacant!

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 21:17:02

Lol. grin

avivabeaver Tue 30-Oct-12 21:26:19

Good god, the art of being vacant is a pretty essential life skill. Her target needs to be to get better at concealing it. At nursery my eldest apparently was not good at tidying up. She would pick up one thing and carry it around until everything else has been put away. I thought this was genius. I really shouldn't have laughed out loud in hindsight.

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 22:10:19

I have thought more about why I am upset and realised that the teacher and the TA did not say ONE positive thing about my DD at all. sad

Unless you count "She likes playing in the sand" and "She's settled more lately"

Shouldn't there be a bit more positivity?

Pretzelsmakemethirsty Tue 30-Oct-12 22:18:37

What kind of society do we live in where a 4 year old is being analysed so critically for wanting to 'play'? At 4, shouldn't that be every kid's priority? In Reception classes, the number work is suppose to be more 'play' oriented, in order to suit the natural predilection of a young child - perhaps the teacher is not making the lessons engaging enough?

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 22:20:46

I know. I've been thinking about going in tomorrow just to clear it up in my mind. I feel really sad about it now.

Pretzelsmakemethirsty Tue 30-Oct-12 22:28:18

Tread carefully, so that the teacher does not think that you are critical of her, as this will just alienate you/your daughter. Instead, ask for a meeting with the teacher on the basis that you felt that the parent/teacher meeting was too rushed and that you would like more information on how to best support your daughter's academic progress - this will more likely be construed as you just being a 'supportive' parent, rather than a 'trouble maker'... Good Luck, and don't worry - your daughter sounds lovely!

MrsCantSayAnything Tue 30-Oct-12 22:31:03

That's what I dont like about school pretzel I shouldn't really have to tread carefully. They should! I should be free to say what I think (within reason) and not be afraid of DD getting alienated.

zipzap Tue 30-Oct-12 22:34:47

Yes - they should find something positive to say about your dd.

I know what it's like to have something like this - when ds1 was in year 1, his first parents evening the teacher was really negative about him. The only positive thing she said was that sometimes when he was on the carpet and supposed to be listening to her, he was chatting to his friends. This is positive because it meant he had friends - for the first term or two he really struggled to make friends and was convinced that he didn't need them because he would still see his nursery friends (we didn't really as we didn't live anywhere near them any more).

The teacher also told me that ds needed to learn how to talk in sentences and join in more instead of doing one word answers - at which point I would have choked on my drink if I'd had one and asked the teacher if we were talking about the same child - as he is the most talkative child I know, has an opinion on anything and everything (even if he has never heard of it!) and is keen to share it with everybody. If I frequently ever ask ds to stop talking, I am lucky if the time he is quiet for is seconds rather than nanoseconds. His teachers before and afterwards have all commented on his chattiness, willingness to share, his wide general knowledge - she was the only one that had a problem with him.

She also told me that he didn't concentrate and got distracted easily, and needed to learn how to concentrate for longer. So I said I was surprised as he will happily sit and concentrate on things at home for hours at a time, on all sorts of different things. The only time he gets distracted easily is when he is isn't being interested and engaged in what he is supposed to be doing (and he loves finding out new things and learning stuff, so that usually applies to things like being bored when tidying his bedroom!), or being told things over and over again that he already knows, so that if she were to teach him in an interesting way then she shouldn't be having a problem with him getting distracted.

Needless to say that didn't go down very well. And I ended up having a problem with the teacher all year - found her very difficult to communicate with. Lots of the other parents found her a problem too.

Think part of the problem was he missed the first 10 days of the year due to chicken pox and suffered from missing the transition period into his new class, he never really settled until he was in the summer term. In his Y2 class however and now in his Y3 class he settled in, had a great relationship with the teachers and has bounded ahead, loves gonig into school. It was just one mean old teacher that screwed up a year for him (and I really think he went backwards in her class).

I would have cried when I came out if it wasn't for the fact that I bumped into his reception teacher by chance when I came out and she was all 'ooh it's lovely to see ds coming on so well' - but I would never have known it if I hadn't spoken to her.

and breathe....
sorry, that turned into a bit of a vent.

But it is because it is a big deal when teacher's concentrate on the negative things about your young child, particularly when you know your child and know that actually if the child was interested by the teaching better, they probably wouldn't need to be vacant in order to do what they wanted to do as they would want to do what everyone was doing!

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