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Help: Reception Teacher unhappy with DD

(48 Posts)
whichway Tue 11-Nov-14 14:38:41

Hello all,

I would welcome any thoughts on the following issue. Apologies in advance about the length of my post.

DD is a June baby so she is one of the youngest (thought not the youngest) in her Reception class. Her school is ranked Outstanding and has a reputation for being quite pushy. They have a very small number of students with special needs and students who come from minority/ non British backgrounds.

Let me say right away that DD can be challenging to deal with. She is very sweet and affectionate, she loves the company of both grown ups and children, and LOVES attention. But she simply will not abandon an activity of her choosing for another which she may find boring or unpleasant.
Reward charts and time outs don't really work with her.

Her teacher has been telling me pretty much from the start that she doesn't do as she is told. I asked her to give DD some time to adjust to school life since she has had very little nursery experience. She gave her a month and then said she needed "extra help " (basically senco, but they call her the "inclusion teacher").
The first thing the inclusion teacher tells me is DD has a speech delay and a delay in her expressive language. Not "might have", but "has" a delay. I am shell shocked at this point because DD is very chatty and confident, and I never thought she had a speech delay. Anyway, I am quiet and don't argue at all, and simply go home and book an appointment with the GP and we are currently on the waiting list for a NHS assessment. Meanwhile I know something just isn't right. So I find a private speech therapist. She is fully qualified, and works for the NHS during the week, and privately during the w/e. She meets DD and has a 90 minutes session. She thinks DD is absolutely fine. No delay whatsoever. She says she is confident that no NHS therapist would find a single thing wrong with her.
DD does have an issue with paying attention and doing as she is told, so the therapist suggested ways in which parents and teachers could help. For instance by placing her closest to the teacher at carpet time (she currently sits in the back corner).

So I gave Dd's teacher the report written by the therapist, and she has been avoiding me ever since. She no longer greets me at the door, and avoids making eye contact with me , even when I am standing right there at drop off and pick up time. I am giving it until the end of the week, and then I am going to ask her if she read the report.

I can't shake off the feeling she wants DD to have special needs, because she doesn't want to deal with her and to give the inclusion teacher something to do, since there are extremely few true SEN children in school. I think she is resentful that I hired a private therapist and dared to question their "diagnosis" of DD's "delay". I feel that when the NHS therapist says DD doesn't have a speech delay, they will find something else wrong with her.

I believe DD is emotionally immature, but I don't see a reason why she would not outgrow her current behavior. Is it really necessary to "medicalise" and put labels on a child who is simply disobedient? DD doesn't exhibit any violent tendencies, she has never had an argument with another child at school. She has learned to raise her hand if she has a question ( which is a big thing for her), so she does not disrupt the class while the teacher is talking. She is very slowly but surely learning the school routines. Even her teacher admits she has improved since September, but she is not improving fast enough.

What are your thoughts?

bookbag40 Tue 11-Nov-14 14:44:54

I have a similar thread about a reception DC in trouble! My view is that some schools expect a lot in terms of behaviour from what are essentially very young children. A few years ago our children would not even started school til Jan. There is a huge difference in age and maturity between a mature autumn baby and an immature summer born. Sounds like you have taken their concerns seriously and investigated and it is probably down to maturity. I would email or speak to the teacher to book a meeting to discuss the findings of the report. Some teachers can be quite stuck in their ways and don't like to be told they are wrong !

lemisscared Tue 11-Nov-14 14:50:32

Honestly? And i say this with kindness . You sound a bit pfb! Also Sen is not an insult. You should be falling over yourself to thank the school for giving your dd extra help. Ok they got the speech delay wrong but there is obviously a confidence issue when she is at school.

Try not to take offence but have a meeting with the senco. You don't know what level of sen is at the school. I doubt they are singling out your dd to give the senco something to do. Give them credit to do their jobs

steppemum Tue 11-Nov-14 15:01:31

Are you certain she is chatty at school?

dd1 is really chatty at home, very good vocab. Her reception TA joked to me that she never heard her speak. They had no idea that she was so articulate. This continued to be an ongoing issue at school, that she doesn't contribute and speak up. This is the polar opposite to home, it is only because I have seen her be that shy in other social situations that I know it is true and not the teacher.

I am not suggesting that your dd is shy in that way, but it is possible that she presents differently at school?

Also, if you want the teacher on side, then say that you would like to work together on a behaviour issue and ask her which one she would like to start with, eg leaving an activity when asked. Then work on that at home as well, with lots of positive reinforcement, and maybe some explanation as to why that is sometimes necessary at school. (and maybe sometimes at home when she can continue uninterrupted on something)

ZenNudist Tue 11-Nov-14 15:36:56

From what you say, your dd is difficult. So why not take up the offer of extra one on one time ? Admittedly the inclusion teacher hasn't covered herself in glory by an incorrect diagnosis. Is she a qualified teacher? If not then you'd have good reason to question her credentials to do the job as they are suggesting your dd spend time with her.

Why not ask to meet with her and the reception teacher together ? You could ask what factors they are seeing at school that led them to diagnose a speech delay. Ask what their suggestions are to address their issues? Disregard the title of speech delay and refute any suggestion they put that on your ds's record. Find out what your dd would miss out on from the rest of the class if she was getting extra help. Ask what you can do at home to help address that.

I think you're taking the teacher's attitude too personally. She has a whole class to deal with and might not have had time to deal with the report yet, let alone discuss if with you at drop off. Yes, she should acknowledge you and tell you when she will deal with it, but she is under no obligation to respond quickly. Primary school teachers aren't sat around twiddling their thumbs!

hiccupgirl Tue 11-Nov-14 16:50:31

I understand that your DD is at the younger end of the school year and she is a young child still but at over 4 she should have some understanding of following an adult direction and not only doing things she wants to. Most children from 3 1/2 to 4 learn this at preschool, nursery or at home so it is not unreasonable for the class teacher to be surprised that your DD doesn't want to cooperate. I presume that the teacher and the Senco felt this was down to a language delay rather than being very self-directed still.

I would ask for a meeting with the teacher and Senco to go through the report and to discuss strategies is school AND home to help your DD move forward. She needs to learn when it is ok for her to be self directed and only do what she wants and when it's not appropriate and she needs to follow adult direction. As I said above, she is not too young to learn this unless there are social or communication difficulties or other difficulties not yet identified.

DayLillie Tue 11-Nov-14 17:02:34

I think that as she is young, it is not a bad thing for her to have extra help if it is available, if only to give her extra attention. So many people have to fight for this.

If there are any social or communication difficulties not yet identified, it is as well to find out as early as possible. It is quite possible to hit all the targets and look quite bright and still not have these addressed. In fact, you can be clever enough to avoid it being a problem. You end up coming out of school with a good array of A levels, but not the skills to do anything with them.

whichway Tue 11-Nov-14 17:03:28

Thank you for your opinions.
For the record I am not in any way suggesting that sen is an insult.

They flat out told me she had a speech delay, rather than saying they suspected a delay. I found that unprofessional. I feel that the way in which they communicated the news to me was just as bad as the fact that they got it wrong.

The motive behind my post is that I am not sure if the inclusion teacher is there because DD's teacher would rather not deal with her. I can't be certain, but the thought has crossed my mind. The therapist did not believe DD needs extra help, she suggested that DD should be moved to the front of the class (to improve her attention), that the teacher should make sure she has her attention before giving instructions, and that she should give instructions one at a time. It doesn't seem that unreasonable to me.

I will follow pp's suggestions and ask for a meeting to find out exactly what they have in mind for DD. I never actually thought of asking them flat out exactly what the "extra help" is.

Scrounger Tue 11-Nov-14 17:10:35

I would go with Zen's approach and ask for a meeting. I don't see why they don't acknowledge that you have given them a report even if they haven't yet had chance to go through it in detail.. Keep it very calm, what can you do etc etc and tactfully point out what the therapist has suggested. See what they suggest and keep an open mind.

It is difficult to compare children, my DS is a very young four with a birthday in late July. He started this September. I know that he is young especially when compared to his classmates. His reception teacher recognises this and there are times, late in the week when his behaviour can be a bit wobbly. He isn't allowed to get away with it but she understands the triggers and works with him to behave better. I find it reassuring that they are looking at him as an individual.

A lot of reception, especially in the early months is about learning to be in school, sitting quietly, queuing, changing for PE, treating eachother properly as well as learning to read etc.

lucysnowe Tue 11-Nov-14 17:58:04

FWIW I don't think you are being PFB at all. I would be shocked too to get a SEN diagnosis out of the blue like that. It may be tho that the teacher is still processing the info but if she doesn't get back to you, I would push it.

My DD is also challenging smile and only now in Y2 is getting used to knuckling down and doing what's she's told. The teachers are quite relaxed about it and say that she's getting better as she's growing up. I've told them if they need any discipline reinforced at home, I'm happy to do it; otherwise they are just being firm as necessary.

divingoffthebalcony Tue 11-Nov-14 18:06:52

I don't think you're being PFB either. At 3.2 my DD is younger than yours, but I could easily foresee her having similar issues in Reception, if her current behaviour is anything to go by!

Let's be honest, she's only 4 and a half. And it's natural to not want to stop doing a fun activity in favour of a "boring" activity. She's been at school for half a term. Personally, I think making dire pronouncements about SEN and speech delays (when, I think, you'd probably have an inkling about that for yourself by four and a half) is OTT. Surely this behaviour isn't unusual for Reception? I really think it's up to the teacher to have a repertoire of techniques to deal with this.

Good for you for getting a second opinion about the speech delay as well.

LimeFizz Tue 11-Nov-14 18:15:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CharlesRyder Tue 11-Nov-14 18:27:21

Are you sure they said expressive language delay? It would make sense to me if they had said receptive language delay as this would explain (in their minds) why she doesn't follow instructions. Of course, they should not have made a diagnosis themselves anyway, but at least that way I could understand their thinking.

Are you concerned about her adhering to her own agenda in school? If so perhaps you could book a meeting with teacher and SENCo and come up with an action plan you can work on all together to improve her engagement in adult led activities.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 11-Nov-14 18:39:45

I've been working in a reception class today and have to say that the children are all able to cope with 2 or 3 part instructions without any issues.

It's not uncommon for children of this age to struggle with this. Most will have got there but there are plenty of children with diagnosed SEN and a few without that would struggle with this at just 4.

OP I think you need to arrange a meeting with the teacher. I would want to know what behaviours they are seeing in the classroom that led to their initial diagnosis and what strategies they are considering putting in place for her in the classroom. IMO just being pulled out for 1:1 to help with S&L/concentration problems isn't enough there needs to be something to help for the rest of the school day.

hiccupgirl Tue 11-Nov-14 18:48:05

I think you do need to consider the difference between what a S&L therapist will see in a one to one session and what a teacher will see in a class situation with 30 kids, lots of who may have some difficulties with listening and attention at this stage. It sounds really easy to sit her at the front and make sure she has attended to every instruction fully before moving on but it will be quite difficult for a Reception teacher to do this all the time - there may be other children who also need to sit at the front for whatever reason and I'm sorry but with the best will in the world a teacher with 30 4 and 5 year olds to keep the attention of, can't pause every time to make sure just 1 has listened. Also if your DD really doesn't respond to being directed she may well be refusing to sit where the teacher asks her to and again the whole class can't sit and wait every time if this is the case.

This will be why the teacher and Senco are mentioning additional support for your DD. It does sound odd that they diagnosed a speech delay without being professionally qualified but it's not a bad thing for them to offer additional support of they feel your DD needs it to adjust to school life and expectations.

whichway Tue 11-Nov-14 19:40:52

I think I need to clarify a few things.

Dd has problems with instructions, but does eventually do as adults ask her about 80% of the time. It often takes 4-5 times calling her name and repeating the instructions for her to do something she doesn't want to do. She drags her feet, and looks for excuses, but eventually, after some negotiation, does it. She can be quite stubborn and asks "why" a lot.

She is an attention seeker, so she does talk a lot. Sometimes she will say something, anything really, to get an adult to listen. That's where the "expressive language" delay "pseudo- diagnosis" comes from. She will blurt out something seemingly unrelated to the conversation at hand to get attention.

I know her bag of tricks so to speak. And I know that she doesn't care if an adult thinks she said something silly ( she knows that already! ) as long as she gets the adult to interact with her, she doesn't care. Negative attention is better than no attention. Fortunately she doesn't look for attention by doing deliberately naughty things. Her naughtiness consists in not switching activities when an adults tells her to.

She is left handed so she finds writing a bit tricky. When they ask her to practice writing she's thinking " I am rubbish at this , I am not doing this again!"

That said she can sit quietly for prolonged periods of time if she likes a book or an activity. She loves story time. The teacher has told me DD knows her spot at carpet time and listens very intently when the teacher is reading or telling a story.

Does all this sounds like DD has an illness or a delay or is she just a huge PITA? I believe the latter, but obviously I am biased. But not biased enough to fail to notice how much easier other kids are , compared to her. I envy the parents of easy going kids. And I also realize that if all the kids were like DD, the teacher would not be able to cope.

That said, I am not going to sit with my hands in my lap while they diagnose DD with something she doesn't have (speech delay), because her teacher is looking for an excuse to pass the hot potato to someone else. If the teacher needs extra help because DD is immature and a PITA , I am fine with it, but I think they need to give her a chance to grow up before they label her as SEN.

I am going to wait until the end of the week, and then I am going to ask for a meeting.

northernlurker Tue 11-Nov-14 19:51:37

I sympathise OP. My third child sounds a lot like your dd and at the root of a lot of the issue is that they are in quite big classes, need a lot of structure and input and it depends on how engaged their teacher is as to whether they get that. My dd is now in Year 3 and is very settled and happy at school. Tbh though it's only in the last year that she has really clicked with it. She had absolutely no issues at nursery of any sort - smaller groups, very focused on her and formulating extension activities. Then she moved to a much bigger class and her stubbornness and unwillingness to try new things came more to the fore.
You do need to back school up - so be clear with her she must work on doing as she's told straight away. But you also need to back her up and you've done great with that so far. keep pushing school. They may have thirty kids to teach but you know what works for you and you need to get that heard. Dd's teachers last year were much better at listening to me than Reception/year 1 (was the same person) and this year's teacher is a total star. Really enthusiastic about dd but also keen to talk about what works best for her. Total joy for me at Parent's Evening when I told her dd responds well to drills and cues - she wrote it down! I wanted to kiss her and it did make me think how little her Reception teacher had listened to me.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 11-Nov-14 19:56:08

well I think the fact that it has been said by the SALT that she needs to be at the front, that the teacher needs to make sure she has HER attention (not to mention the other 29 children - all of whom would probably concentrate more at the front too) IS a reason for the SENCO/Inclusion person to be involved. And whether she is young in the year or not she does need to learn to move on from an activity and to do things she doesn't want to.

What we remember from conversations is often not quite the wording used, is it possible they said 'it would appear she has' rather than 'she has'. If they concrete tried to diagnose something then that is very wrong but I do think they are right to get the inclusion/SENCO person involved. Children can be very different in a one to one environment compared to in a busy classroom.

Has her hearing been checked too?

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 11-Nov-14 19:58:15

sorry I might have missed it but have you said to them that they just need to be a lot firmer with her?

northernlurker Tue 11-Nov-14 19:59:22

The child's age is important. In most (sensible) countries a child this age wouldn't even be in formal school and it is a fact that some children struggle with formal school until they grow and mature. When you haven't had one of those children it's very easy to think a) must have SEN or b) the child MUST comply. When you actually parent a child like that you can see it's more complex than that.

northernlurker Tue 11-Nov-14 20:01:15

Being 'firmer' with an already stubborn child won't work. You're banging your head against a brick wall. The teachers need to engage the Op's dd before she puts up walls, not try and bash them down.

whichway Tue 11-Nov-14 20:09:11

pp, she did say "she has a speech delay" rather than " we fear that..." . I remember it very well because I was giving her 100% of my attention, obviously. She did say we needed the NHS to make a formal diagnosis, since she is not a specialist in language and speech, but she considered it a mere formality.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 11-Nov-14 20:27:07

the teacher will still have to deal with her even if she did have any sort of special need, you have to be really very severe to actually qualify for another adult to help you so I really don't think that is part of it. If she is a less experienced teacher she may feel very out of her depth and her training could only have said 'if you have concerns involve SENCO/Inclusion' in which case she has done the right thing

Ok they definitely should not have said she has a specific problem (although our SENCO announced DD1 had ASD which noone agreed with and it turns out she has a language disorder and is highly likely to be compensating dyslexic and dyspraxic, SENCO wouldn't budge on her ASD thoughts though)

northernlurker my 2 are both exceptionally stubborn but only at home not at school (not sure if that makes me lucky or not) Clear firm boundaries are the only thing that DOES work (well that and bribery within reason). I find you just have to bang your head against a brick wall remembering that you are stronger than they are and once you crack it the first few times then it gets less of an issue. The OP herself has said she is disobedient and is starting to learn the rules which presumably comes from the rules being clear and non negotiable.

I am obviously lucky that my two are very mature for their ages but I have plenty of experience of non compliant children with splds.

northernlurker Tue 11-Nov-14 20:41:35

There's a difference between firm rules - which I have - and 'being firmer' which to me implied harsher discipline. I apologise if I've misunderstood you but I have two stubborn dds too and whilst firm and clear rules and boundaries are essential, clashing with the child through absolute discipline 'because I say so' - which is how a lot of school discipline works when you come down to it - will not be effective.

ALittleFaith Tue 11-Nov-14 20:44:53

Tricky one. Clearly there's some communication issues from the school and their approach. I agree you need to arrange a meeting, ideally with the teacher, inclusion teacher and possibly someone neutral?

Fwiw my personal experience - your DD sounds a lot like me at that age! August birthday, poor concentration unless I was interested, easily distractible, wanting to be centre of attention, struggled to follow instructions. I also struggled with hand writing. Much later down (at uni!) the line I was diagnosed as dyslexic. I also suspect I'm dyspraxic (never diagnosed but it fits!). I think the school have been a bit heavy handed stating that they've 'diagnosed' her without the creditials but I agree with pp, if they have concerns it's worth meeting to discuss it properly whilst waiting for assessment.

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