"Limited Progress" in all subject areas. Where do we go from here?

(43 Posts)
unlimiteddilutingjuice Tue 11-Dec-18 21:54:42

Just got back from DS's parents evening. He's 6 years old and in primary 2 in Gaelic medium education.
The news is not good.
He is at "Early Level" or "First Level" in everything and has made "Limited Progress" in everything except Health and Wellbeing and PE.
He is "Not yet on track" against national expectations.
In terms of academics I am most worried about his "Gaelic Listening and Talking" and his "Gaelic Reading and Writing" as these will obviously prevent him form accessing the rest of the curriculum if we don't get it sorted quickly. I'm considering a tutor to bring him along in these areas.
More worryingly his teacher reports difficulty in getting him to maintain attention and organise himself and she seems to feel that this might be at the heart of his problems.
He doesn't stay on task and frequently fails to finish his work in class. He also has trouble responding to simple instructions like "put on you coat and shoes" "get dressed for PE" etc. The whole class will be getting themselves changed and DS will have wandered off to the play corner and be messing around with toys.
It seems to be this wandering attention that is preventing him from learning.
I raised the possibility that he might have some kind of learning disabilty and, while she was proffessional enough to stress that she can't diagnose, she did also say that I might want to get it checked out with a GP.
I guess I'm looking for advice about how to handle this. Does anyone know how long it will take to get an assessment through CAMH? Would I be better seeking an assessment from a private Ed Psych and how would I go about this?

OP’s posts: |
Lara53 Wed 12-Dec-18 08:41:53

CAHMS will take years! I would suggest the basics first - have you ruled out any issues with eyes and ears? Does he understand what he's being asked to do?

Private Ed Psych will be by far the quickest route to go down, but if he has ADHD etc they would not be able to officially diagnose. You would need a paediatrician for that.

Google Educational Psychologist + area where you live and I'm sure something will come up. If you have a local Dyslexia Centre they will have people they use.

unlimiteddilutingjuice Wed 12-Dec-18 09:42:21

Thanks for your response Lara53. Good point about eyes and ears. He's had his sight and hearing tested at school and it came back OK. No harm checking again though.

As far as understanding; The teacher decribes settling him at an activity, checking he knows what he's doing and then returning a short while later to find him not doing it.
She isn't sure if he's just a little imature or if he has some other problem preventing him from concentrating.

If a private Ed Psych is unable to diagnose ADHD, would it still be helpful to see one? If they felt it was likely, would they refer back to the NHS to make a diagnosis?

I feel like i need to double down on homework. I was being a bit slack because I was assuming that he was only messing around with me and school had a magic wand to make him sit and listen. I can see now that he's going whole days without applying himself so I guess I will have to teach him some stuff at home.

I notice that he stays on task for a maximum of 10 minutes. I can't tell if he's unable to concetrate or if he's avoiding the tasks because he feels anxious about failing.

He can concetrate on lego, minecraft and dinosaur documentaries for any amout of time. And he has a really complex fantasy life as a spy.

OP’s posts: |
NotAnotherJaffaCake Wed 12-Dec-18 09:45:08

Is Gaelic his first language? if not, when did he start learning it? The obvious issue to me, is that he simply doesn't understand enough of the language he's being taught in, to make any kind of progress, and consequently he's bored. Do you speak Gaelic at home?

I would at least try and understand if the behaviours are present if your son is in an environment talking in his mother tongue.

unlimiteddilutingjuice Wed 12-Dec-18 09:53:35

Gaelic is not his first language. He started learning last year. Its possible he just doesn't understand and is bored.

OP’s posts: |
unlimiteddilutingjuice Wed 12-Dec-18 09:56:49

I think the behaviour is somewhat present in other environments. He's very dreamy and away in his own world. He's very disorganised at things like getting dressed.

I think he might have just spent an entire term in a protracted daydream sad

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StarlightIntheNight Wed 12-Dec-18 10:20:06

How often is the class taught in Gaelic? Is it at least half the time or more that they are in school? If yes, then he should be understanding the basics at least. Get a tutor for Gaelic, or even a 18-24 year old looking to make some extra money to just play with him and read to him and teach the basics. Do this every week. My two dc go to a French bilingual school and were completely fluent after 6 months, because we had someone come 6-9 hours a week to speak and play with them in french, we (the parents) do not speak one word of French). It makes a big difference to have someone speaking to them one on one.

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unlimiteddilutingjuice Wed 12-Dec-18 11:03:22

Its complete immersion. So everything is in Gaelic.
Thats a good idea Starlight I could get a tutor and just ask them to play lego and talk about super heros. It might start to build his confidence a bit if he encounters the language in a fun context. Not just someone trying to make him read.

OP’s posts: |
brilliotic Wed 12-Dec-18 11:37:11

I would say that at 6 being disorganised, dreamy, wandering attention, failure to stay on task, attention span of 10 minutes - might be entirely an age thing, and sort itself with maturity. So I definitely wouldn't jump to conclusions.

Failing to follow simple instructions such as 'get changed for PE' would concern me more. Why does he 'ignore' direct instruction to do something, and go to play instead? Even when he can plainly see that all other children are getting changed. What is going on here? Some thoughts:
- Did he not hear/understand the instruction (check hearing/language problem)(but seeing everyone else get changed should give him the general idea of what he is meant to be doing anyway)
- Does he generally get away with ignoring instructions from grown-ups without consequences (parenting problem, at home or from the teacher - does she let him get away with ignoring instructions at school generally?)
- Is he expressing some anxiety or worry, either about getting changed, or about the reason for getting changed i.e. PE. DS used to hate getting changed as some children would make fun/tease others for their underpants. DD hates PE (because she doesn't understand the games) which she expresses in disliking getting changed.
- Is it defiance/oppositional? As in, he'd be happy and able to get changed but not when he has been instructed to do so?
- Is it a 'staying on task' thing i.e. he goes off intending to get changed but within seconds is distracted by the toys/something?

I feel like i need to double down on homework. I was being a bit slack because I was assuming that he was only messing around with me and school had a magic wand to make him sit and listen. I can see now that he's going whole days without applying himself so I guess I will have to teach him some stuff at home.

I would say to keep in mind that if he has been going whole days without applying himself, and hence falling behind as regarding school targets, it is the teacher who was being 'a bit slack', not you! She has expressed her difficulties in keeping him on task, does she expect you to wave that magic wand and get him to concentrate more at school? Is she saying 'sorry I can't teach this child, you will be having to do it yourself at home?' IMO you should be asking how she/the school intends to address the difficulties and support your child.

Of course you should do what you can at home too. A gaelic 'tutor' / lego playmate sounds a great idea. Building confidence too. But be careful with additional school work. You risk having the opposite effect, putting him off school (maths/reading) completely. When a child struggles with academics at school the solution shouldn't be to expect the parents to do the teaching at home instead.

Maldives2006 Wed 12-Dec-18 14:00:19

It depends where you are my son’s ADHD was diagnosed by the educational psychologist as the tests used are exactly the same.

Maldives2006 Wed 12-Dec-18 14:10:41

As he’s only 6 he’s still young and could mature 7 is usually the age of assessments.

Kids with ADHD can hyper focus on the things that hold their interest for example my son did the Lego Star Wars millennium falcon in a day. Getting him to follow simple instructions impossible.

Back off in the homework completely to the minimum, ADHD is a neurobiological problem within the brain. The brain power required of kids with ADHD in school is so immense by the time they get home they are mentally exhausted.

An Educational psychologist can give you a diagnosis and as you’re in Ireland you need to check their processes. My child wa diagnosed in another country by an educational psychologist and the NHS has not questioned it.

The SENCO should discuss with you what they are going to do to support your child. However there is no harm in researching yourself and going to the school with ideas to try. (There are great websites out there)

At home keep instructions very simple and be prepared for a lot of frustration (for you)

unlimiteddilutingjuice Wed 12-Dec-18 16:01:07

Thanks Brilliotic and Maldives for really informative posts. I'll try to answer all the points in order.

Does he generally get away with ignoring instructions from grown-ups without consequences
Definately not where DH is concerned. With me, a little bit maybe. In the equivalent situation at home, (getting dressed for school) I will sit with him, pass him clothes and prompt him: "put on your pants. Put on your socks"
Last year he probably got away with a bit at school because he was very small for his age and cute looking.

Is he expressing some anxiety or worry, either about getting changed, or about the reason for getting changed i.e. PE.

Not anxiety about PE. It's possible he has trouble with transitions

* Is it a 'staying on task' thing i.e. he goes off intending to get changed but within seconds is distracted by the toys/something?*

I think this is likely.

OP’s posts: |
unlimiteddilutingjuice Wed 12-Dec-18 16:15:40

IMO you should be asking how she/the school intends to address the difficulties and support your child

She said that he is in a "talking and listening" group to improve his Gaelic and she is currently still able to differentiate the work down to his level (sort of implying there might reach a point where she isn't able to). She warned me (unprompted) that the school doesn't have TAs and is unlikely to be able to raise the money for them. I felt she was trying to manage my expectations a bit and perhaps plant a seed that the environment isn't right for him?

But be careful with additional school work. You risk having the opposite effect, putting him off school (maths/reading) completely.

Absolutely! On reflection I think I'll try to keep it to 10 mins but instead of approaching it as "revision" as the homework sheet says, approach it as though I'm explaining something for the first time. I also need to up my game and have structure/activities in mind before starting each evening.

Kids with ADHD can hyper focus on the things that hold their interest for example my son did the Lego Star Wars millennium falcon in a day. Getting him to follow simple instructions impossible.

Yes! This is exactly what he's like.

OP’s posts: |
unlimiteddilutingjuice Wed 12-Dec-18 16:24:56

So.. having slept on it and discussed it on here and irl.
My current plan is to get him into some very relaxed lego and chatting "tutoring" with a Gaelic speaker. I actually don't know how much Gaelic he has so it would be useful to have the opinion of a native speaker.
This should give me a better idea of whether language is the main barrier or something else.
In the meantime, I will teach him his remaining phoenems in gentle 10 min increments. He needs to know them and he literally hasn't learned a new sound since August.
Then I will get an educational psychologist to check him out. There are so many variables and I just don't know what's going on with him. So I will get a professional to look at the whole situation. I have a follow up meeting with his teacher in Jan so will ask that school refers. If they are not prepared to do this I will arrange it privately.

Thanks for bearing with my very long post ls

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WipsGlitter Wed 12-Dec-18 18:09:49

I have to ask - why Gaelic medium?

unlimiteddilutingjuice Wed 12-Dec-18 20:02:14

Its considered a good school generally and I didn't anticipate these problems.

OP’s posts: |
NotAnotherJaffaCake Wed 12-Dec-18 20:54:30

Is it that school in Glasgow? To be honest, I think that might have been a bit of a risk if you don’t speak Gaelic yourself, which I am presuming you don’t. You won’t be able to give any meaningful help with work at home, and I would think that the number of SEN experts who are also fluent Gaelic speakers is fairly minimal.

Also, be careful of trying to teach things yourself, unless you are indeed a teacher - it’s not your job and you may just confuse him. Did the school put on any workshops? Ours do phonics/maths workshops which explain how they teach concepts in school and give pointers on how to help at home.

My first port of call would be the school; you really need to have a very detailed conversation with the teacher and possibly the SENCO as to how you move forward. Is your son learning any English at school?

WipsGlitter Wed 12-Dec-18 21:28:59

I think unless you are backing it up with Gaelic at home then it will be very hard and confusing for him. Are you a fluent speaker?

I second a pp - eyes and ears first. Then GP if you feel he needs an assessment.

It might be worth trying him in some non-Gaelic classes to see if he can focus then.

unlimiteddilutingjuice Thu 13-Dec-18 04:29:22

"Did the school put on any workshops?"

Yes. I've been to these. Don't worry, I'm not trying anything too fancy. I just want to get him to recognise the sounds. He's stuck on the two letter sounds atm Dh, Bh, Mh, Ch etc.
The teacher gave us a list of what they need to learn.

OP’s posts: |
NicoAndTheNiners Thu 13-Dec-18 06:21:32

Honestly? I'd move school to a non Gaelic school. If he doesn't understand of course he's bored and while possibly in a years time things may improve he's currently quite possibly bored and switched off from school. once a child has that mindset about school it can colour their view of school for life.

Soontobe60 Thu 13-Dec-18 06:46:00

You sound like a very sensible parent.
As a teacher, I spent a coup,e of weeks in a Spanish primary school where no English was spoken. I found it incredibly hard work! I speak very little Spanish and I had to focus really hard to be able to follow any speaking at all. In a busy classroom, it was even more challenging. I can imagine that for a small child, being put in this situation is even more daunting especially as Gaelic isn't spoken at home.
So, initially it could be his lack of understanding of Gaelic that's causing his issues. Your idea of having 'play dates' with someone who does speak it fluently will help with his language acquisition. It's interesting that you said you help him get dressed by giving him his things one at a time. Try just sitting back and watching him get dressed firstly having got his things out ready, then by leaving everything in the drawers so he has to find them. Then you'll get a better idea whether he can actually do it completely unaided. I've had children who took ages to get changed for PE, and on speaking to parents they tell me they still dress their child because it's quicker.
I'd say give him the rest of the school year to see how he improves, it could be immaturity, then have a rethink at the end of the academic year.

whatswithtodaytoday Thu 13-Dec-18 06:53:20

Do you speak Gaelic at home with him? If he only started learning a year ago and isn't quick with languages, I'm not surprised he's struggling.

If you don't speak any Gaelic at all - is that why you don't know how much he can speak? - I honestly think sending him to a Gaelic-speaking school puts him at a huge disadvantage. Would you do the same for French? Polish? And expect him to be fluent after a year? Some kids are great at languages and soak it up all very quickly, but not all.

BertrandRussell Thu 13-Dec-18 06:56:23

So you put him in a total immersion second language school- a language you don’t speak and which presumably he does not hear outside school much- and you’re wondering why he’s not making much progress? hmm

eurochick Thu 13-Dec-18 07:04:51

I'm glad to see the language point has been picked up. Reading through the thread that seemed like the obvious issue.

Xiaoxiong Thu 13-Dec-18 07:59:11

It seems to me the language is the obvious root cause of all these issues as well! If he hears "get changed for PE" or "get out your books" does he even have any idea what the teacher is saying? I bet you anything he is just watching the other children for clues of what to do, so he's always a bit behind and confused.

I went to a bilingual school from an early age in a language my parents don't speak and wasn't spoken in my immediate environment (people on the street were speaking a third language, not either of the 2 at school!) and it took years before I was fluent because I was learning everything from school - if a teacher used a word I hadn't encountered before it was just meaningless sounds, I had no idea what it meant until I asked and sometimes I couldn't or didn't want to ask, or I literally didn't know how to ask because it was in the second language so I would just sit tight and try to guess from what everyone else was doing.

I also spent a lot of time staring out the window while everyone else chatted in the other language which was their native language. (I was then at a massive advantage in the English language parts of the school day, but sometimes socially isolated as I was often the only one to speak English at home). My parents couldn't help and it wasn't until I got a tutor outside school almost every single day to help that I made any progress at all.

Forget about any ADHD or other LD investigations until you figure out how much Gaelic he is really understanding and how much he can speak as well. I bet you anything he is switching off because he can't understand instructions and hasn't enough Gaelic to ask for clarifications.

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