4 year old not listening/following instructions in class

(20 Posts)
lotsofpeas Wed 12-Oct-16 14:01:45

My 4 year old son has started Reception in a new school.
His teacher has informed me that he is having trouble listening and following instructions at school. He is like "in his own little world and gets very absorbed in what he is doing." Also, he has been playing fireman during break and running with an imaginary hose the whole time. Not sure why this is strange or worrying, but it was mentioned. And apparently he sometimes says "weird things"; from what I figured out/asked him, sometimes it's phrases that he overheard at school, or from Thomas the Train movies, or Frozen soundtrack, etc. So, it's not complete nonsense, but rather something that has caught his attention and he is trying to figure out. Hasn't been playing with other children at break time, until today when he teamed up with a boy and they were naughty together.

He listens ok at home (as good as any other 4 year old, I'd say, sometimes have to ask him to wash hands/clean up a good few times, drives me nuts, but hey.. ). No hearing problem imo, whisper "chocolate" and he'll come running smile Absolutely not concerned about autism as when with me he is very willing to interact with kids and adults, excellent at having conversations etc.

Has anybody had experience with this? I'm puzzled, seems like a non-issue to be honest, kid has imagination, still settling in a new school and getting to know his classmates. Not sure what I can do at home, other than encouraging him to listen to teacher and so on. But maybe this is an issue?? A child or teacher or settling in problem?

OP’s posts: |
redskytonight Wed 12-Oct-16 15:57:56

Has teacher actually flagged it as an issue? Or just something to make you aware of ? I agree with you that he sounds like a fairly average 4 year old boy!

Witchend Wed 12-Oct-16 15:58:00

Hearing problem isn't about whisper "chocolate" and they come running. It's hearing against lots of background noise.
Ds could hear chocolate whispered from the next room. His hearing was about 30%.
I didn't realise how much he had adapted (including lip reading) until ENT pointed it out. This is very common.

BigusBumus Wed 12-Oct-16 16:31:02

I agree about the hearing thing. I was convinced my Sons hearing was fine as well until it was suggested by the teacher that him not being able to hear properly could be the cause of his 'away with the fairies' behaviour in Reception. I begrudgingly took him for the test and it turned out he did need grommets. blush. His concentration and behaviour improved hugely afterwards! So don't just rule it out. I have to say though that 2 of my 3 boys didn't really 'get' school until they were both about 7!

Fairenuff Wed 12-Oct-16 17:06:17

He listens ok at home (as good as any other 4 year old, I'd say, sometimes have to ask him to wash hands/clean up a good few times, drives me nuts, but hey.. )

Why do you say he listens ok at home when he is clearly not listening if you have to keep repeating the instruction? It sounds like this is the sort of thing the teacher is talking about and if it's driving you nuts, imagine what it would be like if you were also in charge of 29 other 4 year olds at the same time.

SisterViktorine Wed 12-Oct-16 17:26:27

I think if the teacher has take time to talk to you about it you can assume that it is quite different to the many other 4 year olds she teaches/ has taught.

It sounds like he is struggling with his attention in that setting. If it takes several repetitions to follow an instruction at home, in the relative quiet with few other children, imagine how long it could be taking in an EYFS setting.

You are not there so there is only so much you can do- but work with them, don't dismiss it.

lotsofpeas Wed 12-Oct-16 19:19:24

Witchend, BigusBumus, thanks for mentioning the hearing thing, made me think more about it, I'll definitely look into it.

Fairenuff - I mean, he is listening ok for a 4 year old smile At home, he'd jump to it if it's something he likes to do, like reading with me or playing cars, or going to the playground! So, it's like ask 10 times to wash hands and only telling once to get ready to watch a movie.

He told me that when the teacher asked him to tidy up he was 'too busy." hmm

I think maybe it has more to do with not being interested in doing what he is told to do.
But it's also when he gets very absorbed in his playing or reading that you really do have to work hard to get his attention. Is this normal? Seems normal to me, as when I read I don't hear/notice anything around me.

So, I don't know how to get him to pay more attention to the teacher, especially when his attention is on something else, to always keep an ear out for the teacher's instructions. How do you explain that to a 4 year old? confused

OP’s posts: |


BackforGood Wed 12-Oct-16 20:03:09

Has he been used to being at Nursery before starting school ? Got used to the idea that sometimes it is time to do things when it might not suit you, etc.?

I'll also ALWAYS recommend ruling out any hearing issues.

Nigglenaggle Wed 12-Oct-16 20:12:47

Following because, lotsof, you have just described my son! We worry that he has some sort of special need (he is fairly normal academically) but according to my mum he is just like I was at that age. Now if you met me you could pass your own judgement on whether I am normal, but I have a house, a job and a stable relationship.

Nigglenaggle Wed 12-Oct-16 20:14:40

My son is definitely not like other 4 year olds.

lotsofpeas Fri 14-Oct-16 19:48:50

BackforGood - he's been to nursery, but part-time and never quite took to it. He was in Pre-School at a different school last year, and it took him a good few months to begin playing with his classmates and talking properly to the teacher. He is getting through the settling in process much quicker this year though.

Nigglenaggle - ah it feels good to know my son is not the only one like that! Are any of us really 'normal'? wink How is your boy not like other 4 year olds?
I think my son is more observant, more focused and more thoughtful than other children of his age. And that is what's causing the not listening/ignoring/not following instructions issue. It's like when you're thinking hard about something and trying to figure it out you barely realise what's going around you, and that's what he is doing.

OP’s posts: |
hotdiggedy Fri 14-Oct-16 20:04:29

Listen to the teacher. She is telling you to help you and your son, not because she fancies putting a child down/ making an issue over nothing. He wasn't too busy to tidy, he just chose not to. That's really annoying. It's also hard work when a child doesn't focus and listen in whole class or group sessions because they have their own agenda. If it carries on for long then your sons education will suffer as he will fall behind. Follow the teachers advice and back her up and speak to your son. Don't go and tell her your son is more thoughtful than other children!

BackforGood Fri 14-Oct-16 22:09:42

Absolutely hotdiggedy

Nigglenaggle Sun 16-Oct-16 19:52:34

Lotsof he is pretty much exactly as you describe! Doesn't listen, lost in his own world, talks to himself, seemingly nonsense unless you spend a lot of time with him and pick up the references. He spends a lot of time socialising and likes other children, but tends to get on better with those younger than himself. I think older children find him a bit odd and sometimes I see why! He is lost in his own little world and struggles to understand why others don't see life the way he does. He would totally say he was busy if asked to do something, and believe it was true- we're working on when that's reasonable and when not obviously. I can remember being told at school that I had wonderful concentration and have only realised quite recently how different I was! I definitely got on better with teachers from juniors upwards so obviously I learnt to adapt to what they wanted. I disliked secondary school but have plenty of friends as an adult. I'm trying to be led by my mums advice on my son and not worry, as whatever she did or didn't do worked for me! Trust your instincts wink

Nashwa00 Tue 11-Sep-18 08:15:55

lotsofpeas, could you please tell me how is your son now because my 4.8 child same case and i'm really confused about what shall I do confused, Please advise. sad

BaggyAndABitLooseAtTheSeams Sat 15-Sep-18 20:12:19

I am a bit further down the education curve and this sounds like my son in reception - he has dyslexia and dyspraxia. I had a lot of conversations about “being in a world of his own” that year

Deepumol Mon 09-Dec-19 15:59:12

@lotsofpeas .. I am going through a similar situation with my 4.5 yr old who is in reception .His teacher told me that he is not paying attention to large group . But okay with small group.i would like to know how your son is doing now is there any improvement or what you did to help him. Thanks in advance for your response.

Supergran58 Tue 10-Dec-19 21:58:37

Oh yes! Your son sounds very similar to grandson (whom I parent). He is a late July birthday and so one of the youngest in reception. His reception teacher runs a very formal tight ship and had them writing from day 1. Grandson had come from a nursery class at a different school (one I taught at) running a very different type of regime - very much child centred and play based, where he was viewed as being very able, particularly with speech and language. Fast forward a few months and his new school have put him in a group for children with social and communication difficulties and at parents evening teacher admitted she thought he had high functioning autism! I very nearly started looking for a new school for him because I could see he wasn't coping with such a formal regime. However he is now settling down and enjoying school. His teacher says that his concentration and focus has improved. I went to his nativity play the other day and he definitely was more fidgetty than the other kids. I don't believe he is autistic but just very young in the year and a boy in a much more formal reception class than I would have liked for him.

Norestformrz Fri 13-Dec-19 09:18:50


Londongirl86 Fri 13-Dec-19 11:32:36

Mine is very similar @Deepumol and has started to slowly improve the last couple of weeks. She started off shy and in her own world. Then she went abit lively and wasn't behaving. I got called to one side about her silly behaviour. Now she's being good but they are still working on her concentration and picking up the routine. I feel they worry us too quickly considering its their first year and first term.

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