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Reception child (4) struggling with listening, following instructions, writing....

(22 Posts)
Goingmissing Sat 29-Mar-14 10:19:13

My son is in reception and has just had a pretty negative report at parents evening. His teacher had a long list of issues she has with him, including:

Not listening at group times,
Not listening to instructions and so having to have them repeated to him individually,
Not communicating with the teaching staff (e.g. when asked which activity he would like to do, he will say "I don't know" - even though he clearly does know as he will go where he wants to, he just doesn't want to talk about it)
He doesn't like writing
He doesn't like maths
Not participating in group writing sessions (he does his writing practice 10 minutes later one-to-one and has to be prompted with every sound of every word (he knows the sounds when prompted))
Not attempting maths questions using numbers greater than 10 (e.g. what is one more than 12 - he just says "I don't know" rather than trying to work out the answer)
Not choosing to do craft activities
Only ever playing in the sand, water and construction areas - doesn't 'make' anything
Not doing something he doesn't want to (e.g. he refused to make a Chinese dragon until the teacher had to tell him he wouldn't be able to participate in the dance if he didn't make one. Then he made one with one-to-one support and really enjoyed it)

Positives - reading, friendships, he enjoys PE, he is happy at school.

My son is very shy with people in a teacher type of role, and struggled to communicate with staff at nursery (he moved nurseries at 2.5 and didn't speak at all to anyone for about 6 months in the new nursery, he rarely spoke to staff in the pre-school room either, so I suppose "I don't know" is a small improvement! He is fine with other adults though like mums of his friends.

He is also very reluctant to try things he feels he isn't good at. At home he has to be really pushed to try new things, e.g. riding a bike. I think that is why he won't have a go at writing, craft or maths.

I will start doing some maths, craft and writing with him at home to boost his confidence in these areas, but does anyone have any advice on improving his listening and communication skills, and his maturity? It doesn't help that he is the youngest in what is quite an old class (half the class are Autumn borns).

Thanks in advance

Menolly Sat 29-Mar-14 11:01:20

Did his teacher give you any ideas of what to try? if not I would ask her because I doubt he's the first child to have these issues.

my reception DD had similar comments about listening and writing but rather than not talking to the staff it was that she never stops talking.

so far we've been trying to play games that involve writing (such as cafes/restaurants so she writes my order) and my sister has been writing her letters asking her to write back, which is working.

My friend who is a teacher suggested this site of listening games for DD, it's a bit early to tell if they are helping yet but it's worth a try.

I think the maturity is just a matter of time.

Squeegle Sat 29-Mar-14 11:11:13

My daughter (now11) was very like this. She didn't learn to read till year 2, couldn't follow instructions and was very quiet indeed at school.
I don't of course know if it is the same for your son but she was diagnosed with a very poor working memory- both auditory and visual. Makes it very hard for her to learn stuff. I had thought maybe she was dyslexic, and although she's not, it seems that dyslexic people also often have poor working memory.

She got quite a lot of help at school. I think the key is to keep pushing and making sure he gets the extra support he needs in learning to read and write. For my daughter the shyness is not connected; that's just her personality- but it made her very nervous to ask for help.

She is doing fine now actually; she still has the same issues, but is adopting strategies to help her remember, like lists, reminders on her phone etc.

Good luck. The great thing that you say is that he's happy at school with friends etcetc. That's very important.

Squeegle Sat 29-Mar-14 11:14:01

I think sometimes teachers can have rather high expectations btw in reception! The whole maturity thing will obviously come.... It just is a case that all the children develop at such different rates, and being one if the youngest is very visible when they're just 4!

MrsCakesPremonition Sat 29-Mar-14 11:17:42

Has he had his hearing checked? If he is struggling to hear instructions then it might be why he feels more comfortable working one to one.

Euphemia Sat 29-Mar-14 13:00:34

They're just wee in Reception, and the system seems to have such high expectations!

I teach P1 in Scotland, where children start between 4.5y and 5.5y. In my opinion, those who come aged 4.5y are too young for school. They're just not ready for the formality of reading, writing, maths, etc. The 5 year-olds are much more ready: physically, mentally and socially.

I have a boy in my class who just turned 5 in February, and he's only just managing to sit and listen for more than five minutes at a time. He's just started blending. He's just grasping the concept of addition.

They're so young at 4 - I find it shocking to read what's expected of them in Reception.

luvmy3kids Sat 29-Mar-14 13:26:07

I'm so sorry you got such a negative report. I know that must be upsetting. but most 4 year old boys don't like writing.grin

It sounds like he had a little 'selective mutism'. but it resolved itself.

Do you know what that is? Have the teachers mentioned this to you?

Goingmissing Sat 29-Mar-14 13:43:50

Thank you for your replies. The writing games and listening games are really good ideas, the schools radio website looks brilliant so I will definitely try those listening games with him.

Re his working memory and hearing, he could have a hearing problem I suppose, or just a selective hearing problem (I have always thought he can hear when he wants to). I will take him to be tested though just in case.

I do have to repeat instructions to him a number of times. This could also be a working memory problem or a not-paying-attention problem. There is a game he has played a couple of times where he has to listen to a drum being hit a number of times, and then identify the number of drum beats. He really struggled with this, so maybe there is an issue there, and I will try and practice his listening skills.

I agree, the expectations do seem very high for 4 year olds!

catkind Sat 29-Mar-14 13:53:00

Aw, sounds like he's finding it tough. It's great that he's still enjoying school and that he's doing well with reading - I do think that's a key to doing well later as so much depends on reading. If he's reading he'll be learning sounding out and spellings so that once he's ready the writing will come easily.

Does the teacher have any ideas how you can help support him? Have they said anything about how they're helping him with these skills in school? DS had some similar issues and his teacher moved him to sit nearer the front so there were less distractions, she says he's doing better at listening and participating now.

They're very little at 4 still, when I was young they wouldn't even have started till the Easter term.

catkind Sat 29-Mar-14 13:53:21

Oops pressed post too soon.

With the "I don't knows" I would have thought it just needs a bit more questioning from the teacher. "You don't know? Okay, you come and do xxx." then child has a chance to say no if it's the other thing he wanted. "You don't know? Can you count 10, 11, 12, what comes next?" I'd assume the maths is not knowing how to approach the problem rather than unwillingness, unless he can normally answer this sort of question. The more of an issue they make of him not answering the more pressure on him which is not going to make him more likely to communicate.

Goingmissing Sat 29-Mar-14 13:59:53

Re the selective mutism - I have looked this up in the past (when he had the communication problems at nursery, although we were only told about this after he had starting speaking to them), and did explain his reluctance to communicate to the teacher when she came for the home visit last July.

I'm not sure whether this is his issue though. I feel like he says "I don't know" because he doesn't want to have to make the effort of thinking to come up with something - he said it to me earlier when I asked him what he did at the park this morning. I had to ask him four times before he came up with something independently.

luvmy3kids Sat 29-Mar-14 14:09:02

My oldest who is no 12 had 'selective mutism' but it resolved within a few months. Its nothing to worry too much about.

She's doing great now. But I am conscious that she processes anxiety in a different way. it sometimes held her back when she was younger, because she didn't want to something that seemed overwhelming to her or that she couldn't do well.

bluewisteria Sat 29-Mar-14 15:04:53

Did he talk in his first nursery?
I suppose what I'm getting at is, do you feel this is the right school for him?

Did the teacher just give a negative report?? Or any useful suggestions and a timetable of different techniques she might introduce to improve things??

catkind Sat 29-Mar-14 16:00:21

I think that's quite standard 4 yr old. "What did you do today?" "I don't know." "What did you have for lunch?" "Nothing."

I find I get more answers if I make the question more specific. "Did you feed the elephants today?" "Noooo, I did PE". "Let me guess, I think you... sat in the corner all day staring at the wall." "Nooo, I played with E and B". "Was it fish fingers for lunch today?" "It was pasta and green sauce".

noblegiraffe Sat 29-Mar-14 17:09:35

Haven't they checked his hearing at school already? They did eyesight and hearing with the weight check.

mrz Sat 29-Mar-14 17:30:45

In my area hearing checks are done separately by an audiologist where growth and sight are done by the school nurse.

A hearing check is always a good idea as this is the age where glue ear is very common

ohmeohmyforgotlogin Sat 29-Mar-14 17:35:44

He may pass hearing tests but have difficulty with auditory processing, specialist testing is available at places like gt ormond St.

luvmy3kids Sat 29-Mar-14 19:26:21

He sounds I a lot like my daughter was who also didn't want to talk to adults and would 'freeze up' when asked a question in a class environment.

She would talk to her friends but go quiet whenever the teacher was in ear shot. It did impact her academic performance until she got into middle school. When she was little she would have tantrums as soon as she got home from school, to let off 'steam'.

AuditAngel Sat 29-Mar-14 19:38:21

DS is an August baby and he really had no interest in reading and writing in reception. He had a lovely teacher in year 1 who was happy that he would catch up as he would discuss the work, he just wouldn't write about it.

I second getting his hearing checked, and also asking the teacher if he can sit nearer so there are fewer noises between him and the teacher making it easier to hear instructions.

Goingmissing Sat 29-Mar-14 21:49:24

Thanks for your replies. I feel a bit better knowing he isn't the only one. I do feel like the school has been a really positive experience for him, his confidence has grown massively since he started there, even if he does still have a long way to go to meet his learning goals.

I'll definitely have his hearing checked as a starting point.

teafor1 Sat 29-Mar-14 21:57:13

I've got my son booked for a hearing test soon. I think his hearing is fine bit know he has processing issues. ohmeohmy how do you get a referral to GOSH?

mrz Sat 29-Mar-14 22:01:36

Ruling out physical difficulties is a good first step ... and remember that at this age a child's hearing can be hit and miss good some days and reduced others. SaLT may be able to help with an assessment of language processing or a GP referral to the community paediatrician

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