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Teacher doesn't 'get' my DS - what to do?

(37 Posts)
Biscuitsneeded Sat 09-Feb-13 16:06:04

Have reposted this here as it was on the Education board where I suspect there is less traffic. DS2 (just turned 6) has a young and inexperienced teacher this year. She is extremely nice, very organised and clearly working hard for the children and they all like her. However, my DS2 is a complicated character - excitable, chatty, spirited, silly, headstrong, and probably a pain in the neck. We've spoken about what to do with him when she can't get him to listen, how we can be consistent with the messages we give him at home/at school etc and we are making some progress. However, I think because he is a bit inattentive/disruptive/immature, she has DS pegged as not very able. He is stuck on ORT stage 3, gets given the easy peasy spellings each week etc. I'm really not being a precious or deluded mother here; he can read fine and learns the spellings with no problems at all, in fact with far more ease than his older brother who always scrapes onto the top table by virtue of being willing and biddable and I would say reasonably able...whereas I think DS 2 is actually bright. If we play games at home, DS2 will try to cheat, which would never even occur to DS1. And even if he doesn't cheat he always wins! I don't want to undermine the teacher or appear to question her judgment; I want us to work together and for her not to dread the times she has to tell me what a pain he's been, but how can I politely suggest he could be given more challenging work? I once asked if he was definitely on the right ORT level (when he'd been on Stage 2 for EVER) and she insisted he was so I didn't push it. It won't matter in the long run, I know, but I don't want him to get hold of the idea that he's deemed a bit middling, and for that to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. What can I do?

Fairenuff Mon 11-Feb-13 09:01:44

How do you do it? By setting rules and enforcing boundaries.

Yes, he will be upset and have a meltdown. That's good. That's what should happen so that he realises there are consequences to his actions. It has to matter to him.

He was giggling because it was all a game. In the past, nothing upsetting has happened to him because of his behaviour. Now you are enforcing the boundaries, he will learn. And if he is clever he will learn fast. But it is imperative that you stand firm, otherwise all you will teach him is that if he pushes hard enough, the boundary will break.

I waited for all the sobbing to subside, then we had a cuddle and I explained to him that if I didn't help him realise why throwing food is not acceptable then he might do it at school, or at a friend's house, and got him to tell me how he thought teachers/other parents would react in that situation

This bit is where you feel guilty. Don't. You are giving him the tools to deal with life. You are making him feel safe by enforcing the boundaries.

I always think of it like this. When we get on a rollercoaster the first thing we do is push the bar in front of us. We want to know that it will hold. We want to be safe whilst we have fun. If the bar gave way, or only held fast some of the time, we wouldn't ride the rollercoaster. We have to trust the bar. He needs to trust you, as his parent, to make the right decisions for him.

Children who cannot rely on their parents, learn to rely on themselves. They can become quite disruptive with their behaviour and refuse to follow direction from adults. Your ds isn't there yet but he could be if you don't nip this in the bud.

So don't bother with the cuddle and don't give lots of attention for tears. Just continue in a matter of fact manner, as if you expect his behaviour to change. He doesn't need to know the ins and out of why you shouldn't throw food. He already knows it's naughty. He just needs to learn that these are the mealtime rules and it's up to him to choose how to behave and face the consequences, good or bad.

And when he behaves well give him lots of praise. I used to take my ds out for a meal (beans on toast at the local cafe) to practise eating out. He would sit nicely waiting for his food, have a quiet chat, use a napkin, eat carefully with a knife and fork, wait for others to finish, say thank you to the staff and walk out nicely grin. He was only about 3 when we started but he thought it was a great treat and I could praise him on his lovely table manners.

Well done for seeing it through. It's not easy, I know, but it will get easier the more you do it. And you will be so glad you did when he becomes a teenager and knows that you mean what you say. Good luck.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 22:40:42

"As a parent, the best thing you could do is help him learn to take direction, concentrate on a task, follow instructions etc. This will be more valuable to him than focussing on his reading level, for example."

Yes, fairenuff, but how?? He was being a nuisance at dinner tonight. Kept annoying his brother and then started flicking food around. So we sent him to his room, but he was still giggling as he went up the stairs. He seemed to think he would do his time in there and then come back down and have pudding, but I put my foot down and said that a boy who throws food needs to understand that there would be consequences, and he wouldn't be getting pudding. Cue massive meltdown. I waited for all the sobbing to subside, then we had a cuddle and I explained to him that if I didn't help him realise why throwing food is not acceptable then he might do it at school, or at a friend's house, and got him to tell me how he thought teachers/other parents would react in that situation. He got the message then. But up until I said no pudding it was all a big joke to him, despite numerous requests to stop being silly, and even when sent upstairs he didn't really think he had done anything wrong. He just doesn't hear warnings, or irritation, or threats, until it's too late. So I can ask him to be good and listen to the teacher until I'm blue in the face - it just doesn't go in.

I do honestly think he'll catch up in a year or two, when he's got a bit more maturity, but I don't want him to fall too far behind his potential in the meantime.

learnandsay Sun 10-Feb-13 21:50:34

Borrow books from the library and get him to read those and ignore the school reading books. He might be acting up because he's not being challenged enough.

Fairenuff Sun 10-Feb-13 21:46:11

the original point of my post was not to try to diagnose my son, which I will leave to the professionals, but to get his teacher to see beyond the silly behaviour. If she was saying "Well of course he's more able than this but because he gets silly and distracted he isn't doing the work to justify the next steps" then I would feel reassured. But I think she just thinks he's not very clever...

The only way your son can be assessed is on the work he produces in class. If he cannot, or will not, concentrate on the task long enough to complete it, he will be assessed accordingly.

The teacher may well be able to appreciate that he is clever, but if he cannot take direction, or settle to a task, he will not achieve the levels that you think he is capable of.

If he is slow to mature, you might find that he catches up in a year or two. Or he may not.

The teacher will not move him on to higher level tasks until he has demonstrated competency in the lower levels.

As a parent, the best thing you could do is help him learn to take direction, concentrate on a task, follow instructions etc. This will be more valuable to him than focussing on his reading level, for example.

Startail Sun 10-Feb-13 15:43:52

It isn't totally a boy/girl thing, but it is something in the way different children mature.

DD1s Y2 teacher didn't get her at all, she just saw a silly fussy child who didn't finished things. Subsequently I've found several mum's of DS who have had trouble with this teacher too.

She is a very good teacher, but she plans very complex elaborate lessons, lots of fun additions to the basic learning.

DD1 is dyslexic (although school refused to accept this for another 4years), she'd enter wholeheartedly, into the fun bits, but avoid the actual work.

I get the feeling many of the boys did too.

My very socially mature and conventionally academic DD2 had no trouble with her at all.

I'm afraid there isn't a cure, you just have to hope he likes next years teacher more.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 15:43:27

Fairenuff, thank you. I can see a lot of what you are saying makes sense and I will be more systematic about getting him to tell me class rules and explaining consequences etc. Oddly, he doesn't exactly have poor concentration. He has poor concentration IF he would rather be doing something else. If he is engaged, he can concentrate on one thing for ages. He will do a difficult jigsaw or play a game for a long time, quite happily. He has just opened all his birthday presents from his party and insisted on reading every word on every card, instead of tearing through them to get at the presents as I would have thought he might. I know there are boys who at 6 can do exactly what is asked of them (my DS1 was one), but as you say each child is an individual, and this individual finds listening and following instructions difficult. I am wondering about seeing the GP to rule out dyspraxia (he is hypermobile and very clumsy), but the original point of my post was not to try to diagnose my son, which I will leave to the professionals, but to get his teacher to see beyond the silly behaviour. If she was saying "Well of course he's more able than this but because he gets silly and distracted he isn't doing the work to justify the next steps" then I would feel reassured. But I think she just thinks he's not very clever...

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 15:31:25

That's interesting Mrs Mushroom. He eats enough of the good things but probably too many sweet things/processed things as well. I think only processed cheese is processed, though, IYSWIM!

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 15:30:01

Anyway, galvanised by all of your advice I have just ordered a load more ORT reading books at a slightly higher level, which DS can read at home with me. Even if his teacher doesn't notice any improvement it won't hurt! We have loads of non reading scheme books but the ORT ones make DS laugh and are perfectly pitched for him in terms of vocabulary.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 10-Feb-13 15:10:11

No, but equally as someone who wanted non gender-specific toys for her children and believed honestly that differences were as a result of socialisation and unconscious prejudice affecting expectations, I am really struck by how different they are. It was DS's birthday party this morning. The boys, with only one exception (and he is an ASD child), were constantly on the move, trying to wrestle each other etc. The girls thanked me for helping them (unsolicited) and stood still and listened to instructions. I'm not saying boys CAN'T behave like this too, but there is an enormous gulf in maturity at age 6. I agree that over-compliance in girls isn't too great either, but these ones haven't been crushed or oppressed; they just naturally want to please and don't need to charge about or roll in the mud.

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Feb-13 13:31:24

How is his diet OP? I ask because my older DD was similar and when I removed all processed foods, the change was HUGE.

I removed cheese too as it's processed isn't no biscuits I hadn't made myself...VERY little sugar in her diet other than naturally occurring in fruit etc.

No's amazing really as she's gone from being way behind to a level above expected for her age now she is 8.

Fairenuff Sun 10-Feb-13 13:20:42

I am sure that the teacher does 'get' your ds.

She gets that he has poor concentration. She gets that whilst he is able he doesn't complete the tasks he has been set. Or that he gets muddled because he hasn't listened properly to instructions.

She gets that he distracts other children and messes around in class. She gets that he is not progressing as well as he should be in his education.

What to do about it? First of all, as a parent you could take him to be assessed by his gp to rule out conditions such as ADD. You could give him the most suitable diet, including perhaps omega 3 supplements, or whatever is recommended by the gp.

You could ask him about the class rules. These will be very clear and he should be able to reel them off. Such as no talking when the teacher is talking. Keep your hands and feet to yourself. Respect school property, and so on. You could reinforce that he needs to follow the rules.

If he won't conform then there will be consequences. These are his choices to make. The teacher will be very clear with expectations and consequences and you can support those, which will help him in the classroom.

There are some other strategies which could be used, such as Now and Next. Now we do our numeracy and Next you can play with the trains (or whatever he's into). He will learn the distinction between work and play and start to appreciate that if he puts in the effort he will reap the rewards.

Btw I work with 6 year olds and it is not a 'boy' problem. Each child is an individual and plenty of boys at that age can concentrate long enough to complete the task in hand. Please don't write him off as 'just a boy'.

jalapeno Sun 10-Feb-13 08:29:27

Boys have been socialised but they socialise differently so they learn differently from their experiences. They are less empathetic, have more testosterone which makes them more active and a bit more aggressive in approach.

There are reasons why boys can't keep still. What do you do if they can't learn how to overcome those? I have very high expectations of my son as does OP of hers I'm sure but what do you do when your DS doesn't reach your expectations? I am constantly trying to get him to "conform" but I can't make him when he isn't with me.

Well, I am going to try this week with school reporting his behaviour to me but I had hoped I could leave school to it grin

seeker Sun 10-Feb-13 08:09:43

It would also be possible to say that it's a shame that the girls have been socialised to be compliant so early.....

I don't say that, by the way. I'm just making the point that it is socialization, and having lower expectations of boys simply because they are boys does nobody any favours.

moonstorm Sat 09-Feb-13 22:29:30

There's nothing to say the boys have to behave like that. Expectations should be higher. There's no reason the boys shouldn't be sitting like the girls...

DeWe Sat 09-Feb-13 19:47:17

I know what you mean about a teacher "getting" your child. It's not related to necessarily how good the teacher is, or how long they've been learning, but just they understand how your child ticks.

Dd1 had only one teacher throughout primary who didn't "get" her. One of those that "got" her, she didn't like at all. But the teacher did understand her and how she worked.

Ds has had 5 teachers so far and he's only in year 1. Three of the teachers seemed to "get" him very well. The most experienced teacher was lovely, did her best by him, but didn't quite "get" him in the way the other three did. (He sounds quite similar to your ds!)

Dd2 is in year 4 and I'd say she only has had one teacher who has "got" her. That teacher's had all three of mine and "got" (all very different personalities) them all. Interestingly one who "got" ds didn't get dd2. I don't think she's hard to "get" (nor do outside teachers) but just been unlucky in who she's got, hasn't gelled with her.

It's very difficult because if a teacher doesn't have that rapport with your child, it isn't necessarily their, or your dc's fault. And on the outside they may well not treat your dc differently, and your dc doesn't necessarily do any worse, but it can make a difference to how they feel about school.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 09-Feb-13 19:28:47

I am realising slowly that boys really are slower to mature than girls in KS1, at least with regard to settling down and doing 'learning'. My DS2's Y1 class have to congregate in front of the classroom each morning. The little girls sit nicely along the specially designed wall and wait for the teacher. The boys run around like loons, mostly hitting each other with book bags. Aforementioned nice but young teacher comes out and says "Good morning everybody", to which the nice little girls chorus "Good morning Miss X" and the boys carry on whacking each other. I think boys who are young in their year have a double whammy to contend with. DS2 was 6 last week, so is in the middle of the year, but he seems no more grown up than the little girls I pick up sometimes from reception. Sigh. If we lived in another country he probably wouldn't even be at school yet...

jalapeno Sat 09-Feb-13 18:27:05

Mine are the other way around biscuits! My DS2 is much more chilled out! He is going to be one of the oldest in his class and DS1 is one of the youngest which I also think is part of the problem.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 09-Feb-13 18:18:08

Thank you jalapeno! You hit the nail on the head. Oddly, I might have been inclined to share floggingmolly's view if I had stopped at one child; DS1 always did everything he was asked and teachers love him. So naively I thought DS2 would be the same... Other than talking to him, explaining, encouraging, having star charts for days where he's been good at school I don't see that I can do much more to 'change' DS, but I just want him to do as well as he can!

Biscuitsneeded Sat 09-Feb-13 18:12:04

Well, thanks, it's nice to see a range of opinions! And some very good advice. Thank you MagicNumber, and those who suggested getting him to want to 'prove' himself. Maybe my thread title was a bit unhelpful. I've also perhaps depicted him as a little monster. He isn't - he's just on the lively and excitable end of the boy spectrum. No, I don't let him get away with cheating of course, and to be honest he's always giggling while doing it so he wants us to notice - he's mischievous rather than deceitful. My problem is just that I feel she hasn't noticed what he can do (or maybe he doesn't do it for her...) because he's one of about 7 slightly tricky and very energetic boys and she may just being seeing them as an amorphous mass of challenge, whereas actually they're not really that similar apart from their need to tear around and make lots of noise! I'm a teacher too (secondary though) so can totally imagine him being a pain in the classroom; I am trying to prevent him setting off on a path that WILL lead to him being disruptive further down the line. And of course ORT are not the only books; we have shelves of books and he will often choose one and read it to himself, or I read to him, or he to me. As for 'telling him to behave better in school', er, well, yes, I have tried that! I can only assume that the person who suggested that has only got naturally dutiful daughters... Lucky you! Thank you newgirl for your empathy. DS had no problems in reception either; the very experienced teacher noticed that he was very numerate and gave him lots of challenge. He has got a bit more tricky since then, admittedly, at home and at school, but he hasn't got huge behaviour issues. I am sure it's just a maturity thing, but in the meantime I don't want him to not make progress as he should because of misapprehensions about him not being able to. I will keep doing things at home with him and see if I can persuade him to ask for harder books/spellings, but as it's only half way through the year I don't know whether to try to raise this in some way with the teacher, or just 'supplement' by myself this year and hope he grows up over the summer and gets a more experienced teacher next year...

jalapeno Sat 09-Feb-13 18:10:23

So floggingmolly do children like this (aged 6!!) not deserve a chance to mature and progress? Sadly people that just think that's how he will always be are perpetuating the problem.

I am always surprised by how horrible people can be about primary aged children on here, especially ones that aren't actually doing anything wrong they are just a bit immature and annoying. If the parents of said DC can see that and are asking on here for help with how to deal with this when the school have put the DC in a certain box surely they deserve a reasonable answer? Not just "yes you are right, your DC is a PITA, poor teacher, get your child to mature and change immediately"

If only it were that simple sad

Floggingmolly Sat 09-Feb-13 17:51:16

silly, headstrong and probably a pain in the neck. Maybe she "gets" him all too well?

LauraPashley Sat 09-Feb-13 17:44:33

I am a teacher too, and have been quite frustrated by children like this before (bear with me!). The teacher can probably tell that he is bright and able BUT as someone said above, if he doesn't complete the work he is given there is no way he can move up! He might be able to spell all his words for you at home but in school might muck about and not even write them down etc.
I think if you have a conversation with his teacher you should try to find out where the specific problems are eg does he not cooperate at reading group time? Or carry on rather than write etc? Then you can try to work with him to get him to try to improve in these areas. Even have a brief weekly feedback /check in. Eg mrs x will tell me on Friday if you finished your story this week, make sure you do! Then we can do x y z this lovely thing at the weekend as a reward etc?
Sorry bathing small person so maybe not the clearest post but hope you get the gist

newgirl Sat 09-Feb-13 17:06:40

Hmmm ive got a bit more sympathy with op

My dd was exactly like this in y1 with a nqt. No probs in recep, no probs in y2 - in fact v good behaviour in other classes and good at her work. Both other classes had experienced teachers - when you go into their rooms to read etc they are calm productive spaces but nqt class was chaos. But do agree that your child is going to have to learn some ways to do well in this class until ready to move on.

OutragedFromLeeds Sat 09-Feb-13 16:54:34

Children don't develop all skills equally. Maybe the teacher is focussing on his behaviour and the reading is taking a bit of a backseat for a while. Just read with him at home, get some books from the library, do some extra spelling with him. You need a range of skills to do well at school and if his reading/academic abilities are far outreaching his behavioural/emotional abilities he will struggle.

jalapeno Sat 09-Feb-13 16:42:48

I replied on education grin I am totally with you on this as you know, it's all very well telling a child to work harder and be polite at home but how on earth do you get them to do it in school when the teacher style is so different to your own?

Yes, DS may not "get" the teacher, but then he is 6.

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