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Could teachers have just got this wrong?

(59 Posts)
jalapeno Wed 30-Jan-13 21:02:26

I was on here about 1.5 years ago regarding my DS who was ok academically but very fidgetty, distracted, stubborn, good at maths but hated writing.

Teacher seemed terribly concerned by his behaviour (v well behaved class, pushy MC intake) but not concerned by his achievement so no EP appointment.

Anyway, I let them get on with their IEPs and we took him to a paed, OT, eye tests, other things and all going well and ok. His behaviour is the same and in a way getting worse as he gets older. Paed thought there may prove to be a few autistic traits but nothing worrying at all, teacher wrote a letter to say that wasn't how they saw it.

I actually think he is playing them. I think he likes being singled out and being given extra consideration at school. He is challenging at home but responds to usual disciplines at home, I never have to smack, just raise my voice, give the stare etc. I don't have to give him all these things they do at school for homework, I just make him do it. That might sound arrogant(sorry if it does) but he just has a natural reluctance to do any work, not to my mind a SEN. (disclaimer: I admit I have no professional opinion to base this on!!)

He got really good marks in his yr 2 sats last year. I was genuinely expecting him to do a lot less well given all they had said. Could he just be bright and bored? I haven't said this at any time to his teachers but they seem to have him in all sorts of boxes just not the correct one for him sad and I'm concerned that by not wanting to sound pushy I've let him down.

He's just told DH he sits at the back a lot by himself so he "doesn't get distracted" so the only time anyone sits with him is when they are sent to DS's table when they have been naughty. He says he hasn't sat with his friends for ages sad I know he has his own table, I've seen it, teacher has explained it but I thought it was only for when things got too much for him.

Sorry for the ramble I'm really feeling for my boy. Can I just ask them to be more firm with him and include him/stimulate him more? And tell them he's probably not distracted just bored...and a bit up himself so won't do what he doesn't want to?

I asked his teacher for an update (no conversation since sept) and now she has said SENCO wants to meet. I need to be clear what I want to say. Thanks if you've got this far!

jalapeno Wed 30-Jan-13 21:10:49

By the way apologies for the title blush I meant DS's teachers last year and this year not teachers in general! Sorry if I made people cross by poor phrasing.

admission Wed 30-Jan-13 21:32:34

The thing that most worries me is the fact that he is on what will be perceived by all the rest of the class as the naughty table, not when necessary but more or less permanently.
That should not be and I think you need to insist he sits with other pupils. Whether there actually should be a "naughty table" is questionable

toomuchicecream Wed 30-Jan-13 21:34:48

Just putting some alternative points of view, which may of course be way off the mark.

Some children cope extremely well at home where it's quiet and there are no distractions. A busy classroom is a completely different scenario. This is very, very common.

1 teacher has 32 children. That means in a given lesson, each time they have to re-focus an individual child and bring them back on task, that's time that can't be spent with other children. How much time do you think it is reasonable to expect a teacher to spend getting 1 child back to their work?

How would you like the teacher to make your son do the work? They can be firm and glower at him, but if he chooses not to do it, what then? Stay in at playtime? When of course all children, especially active fidgetty boys, need to be running around in the fresh air burning off energy so they're ready to concentrate in the next lesson. Or would you like him to bring it home with him to do in the evening with you?

In my observation, some bright children thrive on meeting any challenge they're set and want to push on to the next level. Others are happy to do what they've been asked to but are reluctant to push themselves (many different reasons for this).

How would your feel if your DS came home telling you that he couldn't get on with his work because Fred had been disturbing him yet again? I've had children who prefer to sit by themselves because they know they work best that way, and I've also moved children to sit by themselves just to give the rest of their table a break.

As I said, none of these may be relevant, but it might be worth considering other points of view.

jalapeno Wed 30-Jan-13 21:43:58

Thanks both of you, I do completely agree with you toomuchicecream, as I said I have let the school do as they wish for about 18 months but nothing is having a positive effect. I think now he thinks he is a bit special and likes that but is now having to deal with the downside of being singled out now he is a bit older.

What I meant about my discipline is that he isn't a naughty boy, he doesn't ever do anything violent or steal things, he's not a fighter or arguer. He's just very stubborn and very active! (paed said no ADHD though). I accept a teacher can't tell him off like a mum would but what I'm getting at is he isn't misbehaving as such he is just looking for ways to not do what he doesn't want to do.

If he is reading beastquest, playing lego or some other game HE has invented, I couldn't distract him by any means!!

admission I agree, his distraction table seems to have backfired.

What I'm asking is...could his activity levels have clouded the judgement on his ability? He hasn't been assessed by an EP. I have been told he won't be, given his academic achievement.

jalapeno Wed 30-Jan-13 21:48:09

toomuchicecream I wasn't criticising his teachers just wondering if they could have put him in the wrong box? Sorry again for crap title! Also teachers have always said he is not a naughty boy, he has strategies for fidgeting etc. and breaking down big bits of writing (those strategies actually do work).

Seeline Thu 31-Jan-13 10:35:49

I've read your posts several times and can't actually work out the problem. You basically have a Y3 boy who fidgets, gets readily distracted and doesn't like writing? Sounds fairly normal to me...
What is the teacher's concern?
It sounds as though they should be working on improving his concentration levels and helping him not to be distracted/be distracting. My DS (now Y6) was very like this (still is to some extent if it's not something he wants to be doing). One of his strategies was to take himself off somewhere if he felt he was being distracted/chatting too much etc - that could have been to a separate table or an area outside the classroom. He was also given a large egg timer so he could keep track of time - having been given a target to reach within a certain time. Another trick with maths questions etc was to use a whiteboard/scrap paper to tick off each numbered task as it was completed. All of these helped him stay 'on task' (horrible phrase but used by the school), and helped him keep track of his progress. We also found that sitting next to the teacher/TA often helped. The threat of missing break/lunchtime/music sessions or whatever often seemed to help speed things along too grin

alanyoung Thu 31-Jan-13 21:17:34

Have you thought about his diet which is often a significant factor in these cases? If he has a good diet of mainly fruit and veg with the appropriate amount of protein thrown in, then it is unlikely to be diet.

But if he has lots of crisps, chocolate, fizzy drinks etc, these could well affect him. Firstly, there is the energy burst that children get from these empty calories. They can make them extremely fidgety and not willing to settle. Secondly, there is the colouring and additives issue. I once taught a boy who was the most charming pupil you could ever hope to meet but he had an allergy to certain additives. One day he had a couple of Smarties that he wasn't supposed to have and his persona and behaviour completely changed - so much so, in fact, that we had to call in his parents, who knew of the problem, of course, and were extremely supportive.

These days children eat so many of the bad foods we hardly notice them doing it and some children only need to have the tiniest bit of some foods to kick off their troublesome habits.

I must confess that for many years I was a Coca Cola fan and every time I had a can I could feel myself getting stressed and I used to think that if I were a child this would certainly affect my behaviour in class. Fortunately I managed to shake the habit a couple of years ago and feel much better for it.

If you explain to him that this could very well be the problem he may be willing to co-operate with a change of diet with lots of support from you (after all, he can't really enjoy all this negative attention!). Try giving him a healthy diet with absolutely none of the bad foods for about two weeks and you may see a significant improvement. If not, then that's not the problem.

Good luck.

jalapeno Fri 01-Feb-13 17:57:25

seeline yes to be honest we are not sure either. Those are the sort of strategies that the school have tried and there is no real improvement as such. At home I can make him concentrate by bribery, like you say, and have told teachers to restrict anything to make him work. I want them to be strict, that doesn't bother me. My niggle is that he is being labelled as something that I don't think he is.

As you say it is quite common behaviour, I went with the strategies happily for a year or so, now I think he is starting to enjoy the attention.

alanyoung you are so right! We follow a high protein, low carb (only wholemeal bread etc) and no additives diet as we take him to tinsley house. However you are right we do slip and especially over Christmas. I will get strict on the food again, thank you for reminding me about that. As a teacher have you ever known a child to get crafty about the attention they seem to get for refusing to write or whatever? He clearly can write, just won't.

I am meeting the SENCO on Wednesday so we will see.

PopMusic Fri 01-Feb-13 22:18:23

There are a lot of boys like your DS! Have the teachers said exactly what their concerns are and exactly how they are supporting him/tackling his behaviour? Does he distract other children - is that why he is separated? What are his behaviour problems that they are highlighting? Are there concrete examples?

Personally, I think he's too young to be separated from the rest of his class. He should be given encouragement, support and tools to self regulate and manage his behaviour. Perhaps have short sharp bursts of concentration that is gradually increased. If he concentrates for a certain amount in each lesson, he gets eg computer time or whatever he enjoys doing towards the end of the school day.

jalapeno Sat 02-Feb-13 09:41:15

Thanks PopMusic, in your second paragraph you have described what I want to say to his teacher!

Basically yes, he is listening to the teacher but always looking at his hands, pretending they are spaceships, or fiddling with something or wriggling. He makes spaceship noises and other noises too (hence assessments for autism, paed felt he wasn't but could prove to be iyswim)

Teacher tried fiddle things for him to fiddle with but he always makes them seem interesting so the other kids want it too. He is an intense imaginary player. Other kids have always drifted to him to play his games, even in toddler groups.

He has never displayed "bad" behaviour or not that I've been told about except once he spat on the floor in the classroom. I was mortified when teacher told me this and we have told him off about it.

Academically he is doing well and teachers say when he looks like he hasn't been listening, they ask him a question and he can answer it.

So...does he just need a rubiks cube?! Or a pen and paper to doodle on? I know I need to doodle in a boring meeting or I would fall asleep blush. Ideally I would get him to pipe down and sit still but if I knew how to do that I would be a rich woman. He loves school and I really don't want him to end up hating it. Or when the kids get older (still yr 3 so ok with a "different" child for now) they will start teasing him for being sat apart and treated differently.

jalapeno Sat 02-Feb-13 09:48:30

Sorry when I say he has never displayed bad behaviour, I mean bad he is obviously going to be doing low level naughty and annoying stuff all the time, he's a 7 year old boy!! I know he isn't perfect despite him being my PFB! And I am always frustrated by his behaviour, I don't know how his teacher does it!!

I just meant not hurting people, stealing, breaking stuff, that sort of thing. The spitting arrived about 6 months ago and he did it in the street with me which I don't like and told him off, then he did it in class and I am still ashamed when I think about it blush but he doesn't do it in front of me any more.

alanyoung Sat 02-Feb-13 10:53:44

Jalapeno, the whole thing with attention seeking is to try to assess which activities give your DS the greatest attention, which is what almost all children love. If telling him off for doing something 'naughty', no matter how trivial, gets him more attention than doing something 'good' then he will go for the 'naughty' option.

Try to ignore the negative things he does and praise the positive. Eventually he will notice that he is getting more praise for the positive things and his behaviour will slowly change. Don't however, tell him he is 'clever'. There is growing evidence now that children who are constantly told they are clever achieve less than children of similar ability who are not constantly told this. The reason seems to be that children who are constantly told they are clever think they can do anything without putting in any effort. Then when they meet other youngsters who are equally clever, but know how to work (at university, for example), they begin to fail. The thing to do is to praise them for how hard they have worked instead. This shows them that a) they can achieve well if they make the effort and b) they will have to work hard on the next task to do equally well. The children that have been treated this way generally do better.

Notice, by the way, that I have put the words 'naughty' and 'good' in inverted commas because you don't want to be using these words (especially 'naughty') with your children. 'Good' is okay sometimes, I guess, when used to reinforce specific behaviour patterns.

By the way, is your son a middle child?

lljkk Sat 02-Feb-13 12:00:37

I imagine he's an only child. OP doesn't see his difficult behaviour because she can give him one-to-one. We had the naughtiest child in school around here one afternoon when DS was asleep ill so I played with notorious child. He was a total angel for me. All that one-to-one.

OP: you say he loves school, he's been doing well at his work, I'm not sure what the problem is other than he does attention-seeking at school that annoys staff, is that right?

jalapeno Sat 02-Feb-13 12:03:19

No, he is the eldest of 2 boys. He could have middle child syndrome though if you count my DH grin

Attention seeking thing...this is what I'm worried about. By drawing attention to it for a year now he has cottoned on and is acting up a bit to get that attention if you ask me. I could be wrong and these strategies could be perfect but my instinct is nagging me.

I don't think I tell him he is clever a lot at all, although DH does actually, I think I say that something is clever...such as a bit of homework where he's had to invent something I'll say that's a clever idea. My mum is a teacher and gives me pointers like this so I do try but keep them coming please smile I'm more likely to be telling him he needs to buck up. I think I should probably lay off this. I am a bit shouty in the mornings trying to get out of the house. I will try and stop that. We are a loving family and do cuddle a lot, say we love each other several times a day and reward good behaviour with doing something nice (we are a bit strapped for cash too so lots of park, walks, DVD and pizza that sort of thing).

jalapeno Sat 02-Feb-13 12:07:29

lljkk you are spot on with your second paragraph. First one way off I'm afraid! He has a brother 3 years younger and I work P/T (F/T until last year) so he spends some time at breakfast/after school/ holiday club.

Him and his brother are often off together, I am not that interactive with parenting as you suggest, I don't read with them as much as I should and am not a "player" I think because I was an only and just read and entertained myself. So he is not actually hothoused or anything. We do the bare minimum blush

jalapeno Sat 02-Feb-13 12:12:00

And I certainly don't think he's the naughtiest child in school sad not because I just think that of my PFB, but I'm sure more behaviour would have been reported to me.

I'm quite critical of him. In a way I wish I'd been less quick to jump on teachers worries and assume the worst of him sad.

alanyoung Sat 02-Feb-13 12:12:26

We are all cash strapped these days, but you don't need to worry about that with children. Doing something simple like taking them to play football in the park is just as good (and often better) than buying them a new computer game, for instance. Fresh air and exercise - great!

Saying an idea is clever is okay, providing you don't overdo it, but then ask how you can get the best out of the idea. Remember Thomas Eddington: Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration! Applies to children as well as adults.

jalapeno Sat 02-Feb-13 12:16:44

Yes that's what we do. Off to the park after lunch actually, to try and get some sun on our faces!

He needs exercise too then he chills out a bit. I wonder if I should take him for a run before school every morning!

lljkk Sat 02-Feb-13 13:37:40

Yeah I think you are quite critical of him.
Most of our kids are works in progress. Some of them take a lot longer than others to shape up.

jalapeno Sat 02-Feb-13 15:22:14

Yes, I understand that he is not the finished article yet and is immature. I want to get this sorted whilst he is still a work in progress.

So what do you think we should do as parents when we are told that they are not progressing as they should?

Defend our DC to the hilt, be accused of PFB-syndrome or lots of attention being heaped on them as precious only child so that they can't function in a class where there is no one-to-one?

Or accept there is something wrong and try to find a solution then be told we are too critical?

Thanks for your input but you seem to be a bit contradictory confused and critical of me. I accept I'm a work in progress as a parent too but I am not asking about that, my question is can class teachers be wrong about a "diagnosis" and strategies to help a child such as my DS?

SurvivalOfTheUnfittest Sat 02-Feb-13 15:39:21

Could I just say that a child who refuses to do what a teacher asks, for whatever reason, can be extremely challenging for teachers because we have very few options available to actually make them do what we want. You can pick him up and move him, remove treats that actually bother him and he probably wants to please you. None of this is the case with his teacher. Managing one's distractions at home is much easier than in a busy classroom and with just two children to look after you have plenty of time to support and accommodate them. Teachers don't have that luxury.
The school may have got it wrong, and I don't like the idea of him effectively being on the 'naughty' table. He may need his own low-distraction thinking table, but other children who are misbehaving should not be sent there ad it gives the wrong message.

lljkk Sat 02-Feb-13 15:47:49

Jalapeno would you mind terribly restating in few words what exactly the teacher diagnosis is? I'm struggling to follow, by your own admission your posts are a bit rambly (so are mine, equally guilty).

I think I understand the teacher solution strategy to be your DS mostly working at his own table, right? Is that all?

I had long chat with both DS teacher & her superior this week about DS school problems, so I sympathise with some of what you're going thru. I told them I wanted a list of things to try (I thought of 2 things to try & asked them to think of more). If the things-to-try don't work sobeit, but we couldn't continue as we were hoping he'd sort himself for the better without interventions.

jalapeno Sat 02-Feb-13 15:48:36

Thanks survival, I agree with you, I think he is challenging them and I really want to help them! That's why I am critical, I know how challenging he can be and like you say it is easier for me to deal with at home.

However I don't think that what they have been doing in class is helping. I think it is now a discipline issue rather than a special needs issue iyswim. He seems to now think he can do what he likes because he is him. Does that make sense?

jalapeno Sat 02-Feb-13 15:53:37

lljkk sorry to have got rambly, the problem is I'm not entirely sure what the problem is! confused

He's just in his own little world really. He fidgets, fiddles, wants to be doing his own thing and is stubborn about not wanting to write long pieces of writing. Worksheet type things, spellings and maths stuff in bitesize chunks is absolutely fine.

He has spat on the floor once.

That's about it really.


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