Help me handle this please- don't want to be That Parent!(87 Posts)
There's been such a massive jump from Reception class to Yr1 in terms of the teaching, expectations, punishments and communication ...
And I don't want to be That Parent but I'm pretty sure some of this isnt ok, but I want to make sure I deal with it correctly rather than being dismissed as being unrealistic/ demanding etc.
So... 3 different but over lapping situations happening, but I'll share 1 as been trying to post for ages & not finishing the OP!
1. DS is very deaf though hearing fluctuates. School knows this, was told new teacher was briefed thoroughly. I have reminded her and also he's gone to ENT appointments in school time which the teacher has approved herself. He now has to have an operation, which maybe gives me a reason to bring it up yet again?
So near beginning of term DS kept getting upset as teacher would tell him off for not doing things and although that seems to have stopped I'm not sure she actually helps him or checks he's heard, I think DS has stopped trying to please her instead
He's turned his attention to friendships instead and is best friends with one boy who just never listens, and when they're together DS (who tbh is very up for following others) and the boy are terrible together. It's so easy for DS to stop listening as its really hard work for him to follow what's going on, and I see how tired DS gets at home trying to concentrate and keep up. So DS loves getting absorbed in playing with his friend, and he knows he shouldn't be, but having seen them together, it appears that DS friend knows he's ignoring people enough to stop doing it after being warned, but as DS can't hear a sodding thing anyone says unless they're directly in front of him, he carries on way after when it's acceptable, and it's gone from DS being withdrawn and not following the class (& his friend being renowned for not listening), to DS being the 'naughty one' who gets in trouble all the time but as he gets something out of being silly and loud (friendship) but as he still gets told off even when he's trying to be good, and he seems to accept there's nothing he can do to please his teacher...
So, I don't want to be dismissed or ignored by being the parent excusing her little darling from being a right pain,.. But I am bloody angry about this having written it down - why has no one thought to relate this to his significant hearing loss?!
So he's now getting into trouble for it on a regular basis... Not that they've bothered to tell me or raise it as an issue, but my child has now been punished by really 'grown up punishments' which scare him a lot, Yet the friend although I'm not excusing his behavior, gets away with it as he can hear when to stop in time to avoid getting into trouble - Obviously I don't think I should say anything about the friend to the teacher - unless I suggest separating them at trouble spots? But then if nothing else changes DS just lost the only thing he enjoys about school...
By grown up punishments I mean he's gone from moving down to the cloud etc, to no minor punishments at all, and having to stand by the wall for lunchtime in front of the other classes, DS was scared he wasn't allowed to go back into his classroom and would be trapped outside alone, as no one explained what would happen (or he didn't hear). And this was after another boy got into trouble and had the same punishment for 'pushing DS over deliberately' and DS was too scared to tell the teachers they misunderstood what had happened, and made it worse by crying because it was so unfair and it was his fault so the teachers penalized the other boy even more for 'making DS cry'... Ffs.
And the final straw for me is in an after school club he's been told that if he 'doesn't listen' one more time he'll be sent to the head teacher. He's asked to give up the activity as he knows he cant stop it happening again, and he's terrified of being sent to the head (who's in a completely different building, and only really bad incidents end in going to the ht office, like punching another child or adult etc).
So what the hell do I do?
And to avoid drip dripping...
2. I'm disabled and so can't drop off / pick up very much, and am missing out on loads of communication as its so chaotic eg notes get put in some bags but not all, yet even when I realize we've not had one the teacher will not just give me the letter, and will need asking every drop off and pick up for days and days (until after closing date for trips etc). Then some communication comes by email / parent mail, some on a white board outside the classroom door, some with random paper notes... Basically it's a mess and I can't do anything to ensure DS keeps up as she's not communicating in a way that's compatible with me being disabled (or working parents etc too, & I'm both disabled & working). I asked for her email and she gave two different ones... And I don't know what I'd say in a mail either as I don't want the first communication I manage to have with her to be a massive complaint / accusation. To make all this more frustrating, there was a formal handover which specifically said that I need them to be consistent in the way they communicate because it's so difficult for me to get there/ keep up with short notice stuff.
3. Constant admin and communication errors which never get acknowledged like DS doesn't have his reading books changed for weeks though others are getting regular changed books - then WE get told off for not doing school reading books etc etc, or homework not taken in though it's given into school on the correct day, and DS gets marked down as failing to complete homework... it's something like that every single week and I'm getting the impression DS is being overlooked and marked down because of it.
4. I suspected he's been coasting for ages this term, he's completely disengaged from class work as he gets no encouragement or praise, and expectation are clearly low. He's on a very low reading band, in spite of reading loads at home, and tells me he's 'bad at Maths' which I've been rather surprised at as leaving reception he was praised for his advanced Maths (?!). School signed up to athletics on Friday, and each child was set at their level, and having done some with him, no wonder he's disengaged, he's so bored... So I encouraged him to get through the too easy stuff so he can get to more interesting stuff, and without my doing more than reminding him to press the submit button, he sped through it and got 1600 points in 3 short sessions over 2 days (they get a certificate if they get 1000 points in a week). it was a bit of a shock for me as I've been trusting the school know what they're doing, except they don't do they?
Reading this looooong post makes me realize - this isn't right is it?
Jesus Christ. I'm not a teacher, but all this talk of points and punishments and homework. . He's year 1! I am sure some will be along with more knowledge about all this than me but no it doesn't sound right. And it doesn't sound like they are understanding his disability either. I would go straight to the Head actually, and raise concerns with her/him. And if that gets you nowhere maybe look at a different school. My son's school just wasn't that into formal type learning at this stage ( maybe that's unusual? ) but I was happy with that. A more play based curriculum has actually produced quite astute and confident children. The more I read about other primaries, the more grateful I am for ours.
He should be on a plan of some kind for his hearing issue - an ILP (individual learning plan) which states what provisions are made for him such as sitting at the front of the room & right next to the teacher on the carpet. Does he have an extra support in class?
Is it possible for you to arrange meeting to 'discuss some concerns' so that you don't have to send a long email?
In a well managed classroom surely two children who don't listen together should be split up - regardless of the reason - surely. In his specific case it might be useful for him to sit where he can have minimal visual distractions from lipreading, whether that's proximity to teacher or uninterrupted line of sight. I have a hearing disorder and have to manage this kind of thing for myself so I'm conscious of the challenges, and your description of his getting tired and tuning out sounds very familiar indeed.
Bypassing the usual disciplinary methods sounds like weak teaching to me. They've been dealing with the symptoms rather than the cause, and when (surprise surprise) that didn't work, they've increased the punishment rather than deciding to look at the causes.
They can't treat him like everyone else in the classroom for expectations (ie effectively ignoring his disability) and then treat him differently when it comes to punishment (ie bypassing the usual colour ladder and escalating straight to loss of playtime). What the fuck?!
You need to communicate by email. To the teacher in the first instance but copy the SENCo or HT as appropriate later on. Lay out his reported experience of the classroom without downplaying his bad behaviour, and make suggestions as to how problems might be addressed (eg moving him to a more suitable seat when she next shuffles the class). All teachers have non-contact time when s/he will be able to read it in full - bear in mind though that you could miss the day or half day and wait nearly a week.
Good luck. It doesn't sound good but in a decent school it should be solvable.
wow OP, so many things in there.
No it isn't right. He is being punished for his hearing loss.
I would imagine lots of the communication stuff is also due to him missing what is said, eg teacher shows trip letter, explains to class, ds misses it and therefore misses point of letter. Also, teacher says to whole class does anyone need to change their book? and he misses it so doesn't change book.
I would ask for a meeting, with teacher and possibly senco. Ask in writing, and ask that you together come up with a plan.
Write down and suggest 5 (ish) key things that will help. eg.
1. split him from this other child while working.
2. EVERY instruction or communication MUST be face to face one to one. eg, he is being too noisy with this other child, teacher calling across classroom is not enough, she needs to walk over, crouch to ds level and speak face to face.
Emphasize the overriding importance of this when he has done something wrong, from ALL members of staff. He needs to understand eg why he is standing in the playground. (stupid punishment)
3. System for letters and communication, how about a home school book that lives in his bag, teacher signs it every day, you sign it every day. Then you can communicate effectively.
Take notes as to what you are agreeing.
Put everything in writing cc to head. After the meeting, write a follow up "thank you for the meeting, as I understand it we now have a plan to do 1, 2, 3, "
I there a TA in class? I would ask if she could follow up with him, eg teacher sends them off to maths groups, she checks he knows where to go and what his task is.
Or if there can be picture cues or written cues for him, so he has the instructions for things without needed to hear them all the time.
I hadn't thought of his hearing as something that merits being on a plan - and last year it just wasn't a problem as they responded to his deteriorating hearing by just managing it in the classroom.
Only once did the reception class teacher tell the nanny/ helper that DS had been really cheeky, walking off when being spoken to, and I immediately wrote a mail explaining his hearing is variate so please don't assume he can hear because he heard in another situation earlier on in the day or week... And mentioned the effort it takes to try and follow what's going on, and how he switches off when he's too tired. And that (wonderful) teacher wrote back immediately, saying thanks for reminding her about his hearing and explaining a bit more as she hadn't realized it was variable... And also said that she had wondered what had happened that day as it was so unlike him. All this has been shared with this years teacher and a special effort was made as I'm so poorly the reception teacher made it clear that it was their job to help me so DS's mummy and the school were working together etc. I thought it was the ethos of the school rather than just the individual teacher, but maybe it wasn't
I guess that's the problem, he's been judged as being badly behaved rather than any thought that there's something going on, EVEN though they've been told there's something going on repeatedly ... Though not as much as I wish I could have as its been an uphill battle to try and engage with them.
So how do I handle this? What's me complaining and whining, and what are the key points to try and address? Like, the leap to serious sanctions and punishments, I don't even know if there are class punishments and they've been skipped, or whether there's nothing except the 'big guns' now. I did try and raise concerns right at the beginning of term but all I got back was a one liner 'he's yr1 now not reception'
I feel terrible now, I've just let this all happen instead of being there for my little boy. I'm such a crap mum,
I am really angry on your behalf as another mum-of-a-deaf-child...so am place-marking and sympathising and bumping, and hope to come back with some more coherent thoughts tomorrow...
He should definitely be on a plan.
My dd has a small medical problem that can affect her when she eats, but in practice it very rarely does. The school nurse and I drew up a care plan for her. If the senco won't do a plan (and she should) then try contacting the school nurse and asking for help with a medical plan.
(school nurses are not in one school, but one nurse with responsibilities across a load of schools)
Are you sure the hand over happened? It sounds to me as if the new teacher doesn't get the hearing loss, and in particular doesn't get that it is variable.
He should NEVER be punished for anything which may be connected to communication, eg being punished for not listening when you are deaf makes me very angry.
The default position of the school should be that he has missed what you have said.
Please don't beat yourself up about being a crap mum. You had a good experience last year and were not expecting it to be different this year.
Do you have parent partnership person at your local council? their role is to help parents with the relationship with the school.
Can I also suggest a trip over to the SEN board, as there are loads of parents there who know the system really well, and can give you the right words and approach etc.
One thing I do know, keep a paper trail of every meeting and every promise made.
Oh no, you are not a crap mum! You are a brilliant mum because you are trying to help your son , and not just accepting this nonsense.
Are you a lone parent? If so, it is doubly hard because you are a ) ill and b) have no one at home to bounce all of this off. It's hard always having to be the one who makes these kinds of judgements, even when you are not ill.
Apologies if you are not and I have the wrong end of the stick. It's just that I thought I recognised lone parent guilt!
Thanks, crossed posts.
So, how do I raise this in a way that's going to get things changed? I get really upset about DS as I'm very aware he doesn't have a 'normal' life, and he is really fragile as he's had a lot of tragedy and trauma to deal with in his short life.
So basically, I think I will cry, I'm sodding crying now writing this.
Or I'll get so upset I'll come over as hostile and negative, really hurt by the way DS has been let down (& by me too letting this go on).
My fear is they'll minimize it all, or they'll do platitudes and refuse to listen, having stereotyped DS as a disruptive child who's not very bright.
How does a parent then say no, DS is not a naughty child, and no you have no idea what his learning level is... So easy to dismiss a parent as being partisan and not able to see their little horror for what he is.
How do I get past the brush off? When I've tried any form of contact I've definitely felt like it's not wanted, or I'm automatically in the wrong, pretending it's my expectations that are unrealistic/ they know best etc.
I have to push past that and get them to listen, think about it (rather than ways to deny it or ignore it), and react appropriately...
More crossed posts!
Yes, hangs head in shame, you found me out! Yes are observant, I have a severe case of lone-parent-guilty-itus
My full label is 'single working disabled parent', it's sown into the back of my neck and it's times like this that really highlight the difference between me and 'normal people', and yes the guilt. I have carers, and that's it, no proper family, mostly dead, h long gone and doesn't know where we live (not a nice man), and every day is bloody bloody hard.
To think I was desperate for DS to go to this school - ha!
I've not met the TA but I've heard from another parent that the teacher and TA don't get on at all, and that might be one of the reasons why there's so much confusion and half done jobs... My opinion is that it needs to be sorted, not become some kind of human interest gossip excuse whilst DS continues to be penalized for teaching staff's inability to behave professionally. Grrrr.
The head teacher went end of last year (apparently was pushed by governors), and one of the deputy heads resigned for family reasons... And now the reception teacher (the great one) has resigned with minimal notice for personal reasons. So I have no one that knows me and DS at all anymore.
It's an outstanding rated school with an amazing reputation. But either they've had really bad luck this (calendar) year or there's something afoot...
I really sympathise, OP, as I also have a child with a sensory impairment - I can't imagine how horrible it would be if our school didn't support him as well as they do.
Just a couple of things that have helped us (apologies if I've missed some of the answers already). Are you and your DS in touch with your LA's sensory impairment service (or whatever it's called locally)? Does he see a Qualified Teacher of the Deaf? My son's specialist teacher visits him weekly at school, and has been brilliant at advising his classroom teachers/TAs about how they can support him well, giving practical tips, ironing out problems, etc. She also sends us a "record of involvement" after every visit (basically, her notes from the visit plus any targets for the next one), which is good as it gives me extra information about what's going on in the classroom. If you're not already in touch with them, you can refer your son to the sensory impairment service yourself, but it's often done through an involved professional.
I would consider getting your DS's needs more formally recorded. Again, you can apply for an Educational, Health and Care Plan (EHCP - these replaced Statements last year) yourself. Don't feel that they are only for children with really severe needs - they're not! Alternatively, I would be talking to the school SENCO about making an IEP for your DS if he doesn't already have one. I realise it can feel a bit "hostile" - as if you don't trust the school without getting everything put down on paper - but it's the best way to make sure that everyone is following the same agreed strategies and provisions. You could also find out about getting extra, more individualised support in the classroom for your DS - a QToD could advise about this, and this is something that would go in an EHCP. My DS has full-time one-to-one support at school (including at lunchtime and breaks, where it's also important), and it's really helped with his inclusion. His TAs don't hang over him all the time, but they're there if he needs extra help with something - and they can also prepare/adapt resources for him (e.g. large print worksheets - he's visually impaired).
If your DS has a hospital consultant/audiologist, you can also ask them to write to the school. My DS's own doctors/orthoptists wrote reports that detailed what his condition is, how it affects his everyday life, and what support he would need as a result. These letters were originally for DS's statutory assessment application, but they've also been useful in other situations. The same is true of SALTs, Educational Psychologists ... anyone who's had significant contact with him! Don't be shy about asking for reports from professionals: they write these things all the time, and the reports can help to open doors if a setting is being a bit uncooperative.
Finally, I would get in touch with relevant charities (e.g. NDCS), if you haven't done so already. They give great advice and support, generally - and NDCS should have people who can advise you about education, or even provide someone to be an advocate for your DS when you talk to the school. One of the most useful forms of support we've had from charities has been on the social side - they've put us in touch with other families in the same position, and they arrange family meet-up and events for members. We've had a lot of useful advice and support that way.
Sorry for the flood of advice, especially if you know all this stuff already! And do take care of yourself: it's hard having a child with additional needs, but it must be much harder as a single, working, disabled parent!
OP - please please don't beat yourself up. You are doing a great job against all the odds.
But I do think some support in dealing with the school would help.
mackerella has some great advice. If you had support of one of the deaf support groups or associations it would help the school to see the issue is a bit more serious, and to give them a 'professional' view point.
The school seems like it is going through a crisis of leadership. But the senco and class teacher should still be able to do their job
The school sounds shit, even if it is rated outstanding. I also have a 5 year old in Year 1 and there's no homework or scary punishments. He has mild variable hearing loss due to glue ear and his teacher has been nothing but accommodating.
First thing I'd do is request a formal meeting with his teacher and the SENCO and go over them in detail his needs - and point out how inappropriate and discriminatory it is to punish a child with hearing loss for "not listening".
I'd also point out that the poor communication from the school is really disadvantaging you and your son due to your disability, and ask if they feel there are any reasonable adjustments they can make to their communication systems.
Does the school have a family link worker or similar? If so I'd try to get them in on the meeting too.
Mackerella's advice is quite good.
My DS2 has hearing loss, we have got appointed a specialist teaching advisor for hearing impairment as soon as this was confirmed by hospital. This teacher advisor is really good, she went to the school to train the teacher, tell the teacher how to support DS2. Then she goes to school monthly to check if everything is all right. And she is really knowledgeble, and knows the help available. She had asked the school to apply for the Educational, Health and Care Plan, so DS2 has a couple of hours 1-1 help everyday now.
So I would advise you to find this specialist teaching advisor service in your area, you can ask council or your audiologist. Meanwhile, I think you should ask a meeting with the headteacher, explain the situation and get Senco involved. As DS will change teacher every year, if he can be registed with Senco, Senco would have responsiblity to monitor DS's situation in the school.
As your DS's hearing varies , can you also establish a way to let teacher know when his hearing is worse?
Hi OP. I do sympathise. I work as a TA in Key stage 1. My DS1 is autistic .
You asked how to raise your concerns in a way that things are going to change. I suggest you ask for copies of your schools policies (inclusion,special educational needs and disability). They may be on the school website.
Also have a look at the Equality Act 2010 and schools. (1.25 and all of chapter 4 in particular).
As a parent, knowing my sons entitlements by reading the legislation was very helpful when asking for support. I felt more confident in dealing with the school. I knew I wasn't been unreasonable asking for adjustments for my DS, that would not normally be available to other pupils, as my DS needs these adjustments. As my son is an academically able autistic child, teachers sometimes failed to see that simple tasks are sometimes impossible for him without the necessary support.
This is so helpful thank you all so much. Am feeling a bit more with neck
Dear sorry! Typing whilst in a taxi and just went over a speed bump.
That should say 'more back bone today, was channelling wet lettuce ness last night!'
I do worry I'm doing all this too late as he's got an operation in a month and it could be his hearing gets loads better post op, so not sure if I should go down the more formal route or not?
Why did I not think he was disabled by his hearing loss? Surely I should be hyper aware of stuff like this having become disabled myself. Feel slightly foolish!
mackarella gives great advice. I also agree with contacting NDCS. DD1 had hearing loss and a hearing aid and I found them to be great.
Ds2 has sginficant hearing loss in his left ear. Only just started school by already we have had a meeting and teacher will make sure he sits at front during carpet time, will make sure he's understood instructions and will take him to a quiet area for his one on one reading and phonics etc so he can hear better. He also has speech delay due to glue ear so they are working with me and the speech therapist on that too.
Well done for dealing with this - it sounds like you've had lots of good advice.
Re your point about feeling like you'll cry if you raise these issues with the school. Do you have a close friend who could go with you, so you have some back up? Also taking a written list of points will help you to make sure you get your case over clearly.
I'd suggest it would be a good idea to have a meeting asap ahead of your son's operation. Partly because the idea that a partially deaf child is punished for not listening is so astounding that you need to call them out on it. Also because it would be useful to talk to the school in advance about his operation and recovery period. Hopefully this would help you to avoid any nasty letters about time off school.
And also to think through how long his recovery might be and how you all support him. For example is it likely his hearing will improve dramatically straight after the operation? This could feel quite over-whelming for a five year old who's got used to only hearing partially. Or will it be a slower recovery - in which case the school need to continue to treat him sensitively?
I really hope your son and you get proper support to deal with this situation.
OP - what is the operation?
I only ask because if it is grommitts, my (not very wide) experience would suggest that it will not be a radical quick solution, and he will need support for a while further. Even if you do all this and at the end of year 1 you can say - great he is fine, that doesn't change the fact that he needs support now.
Write down what you want to say.
Put it into sections eg 1. communication in class, 2. appropriate discipline, 3. communication home/school
Be positive in what you write, don't focus on what is bad, focus on what you want to happen in the future. Email/send a copy to the senco and class teacher after the event to confirm what you have talked about.
Phone the school and make this an official after school appointment, not a 5 minute chat at the gate.
Hi OP, you sound really upset and desperately worried. I think there are steps you can take to help.
I would list down (as a bullet pointed list) your concerns
1. Son's hearing impairment / operation
2. Unhelpful friendship
3. Reading books
Ask for a meeting to discuss these issues with the teacher. Email in advance so they can look into them. She might be under the (wrong) impression that you not being around means you aren't that interested or that things are going fine/normal from your point of view.
You said that your 5 year old doesn't even bother trying to please the teacher any more because it's pointless - I would say that might be the response of an older child but I don't think many 5 year olds have a long-term reflection on this. You also said that there is no encouragement or praise. You might not be aware of any, but this is not necessarily the case. Finally, there are occasions when 5 year olds are naughty (hearing or not) and while you should definitely raise that he may not have heard the instruction, there are times when (like all kids) he is choosing to ignore. I think it needs to be fair.
I think as soon as you go through your concerns and get things out in the open and clear, there will be a big improvement in how things go and you will feel much better about it all.
Yes oh observant ones, I tend to forget how insightful and incisive mumsnetters are . Guilt and panic.
Prompted me to step back and think why the guilty mother mode in overdrive?
It's the operation, which was decided last week and I feel like I failed DS about this (there is a reason for this), plus being worried about DS health, which is imbuing everything with doom. I also had an unrelated shock at the hospital which caught me on the raw. Plus a big dollop guilt that I didn't work out earlier why I was feeling so uncomfortable with the situation at school.
So, I do think I can handle this without howling at the teacher (!), if I prepare properly (using advice on here), and remind self this is something i can resolve and feel in control of, if I put my emotions in the right places vs anxiety spilling out everywhere!
The op is exploratory as they've not even managed to see past the gunk, wax and debris, so they're going to have a poke around, and make sure he's got ear drums etc, then perhaps put in grommets, or deal with any middle ear infection if that's what's causing the gunk, and bring him round and do hearing tests again, especially the pressure one to check ear drum function, as currently reading completely flat, hopefully just because gunk has created a vacuum / tight seal rather than anything worse.
They've tried to micro suction his ears once in the summer and again last week, but DS is terrified and no matter how much (fun) preparation I did with him at home, and amazing play specialists working with him on the day and throughout, he can't cope with it they thought he was going to be ok this time, as he's clearly trying to be brave, engaging with everything, all the clever play stuff they did, but it's like flicking a switch on to 'terrified animal fighting for his life', with no build up or warning.
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