DS not achieving full potential at school

(65 Posts)
BabyMommaDec2012 Sun 21-Apr-19 22:55:05

Hi there - I’ve spoken on here about my DS before (6 yrs old in yr 1). As a recap, teachers struggle with his behaviour (he’s not violent/aggressive but he cant sit still, won’t always follow rules/instructions and sometimes refuses to do his school work... although, he will work at ‘mastery/greater depth level’ with ease he’s in the mood). He’s exceeding in reading but not meeting expected age related levels for writing and maths. This isn’t due to ability, it’s due to the school not having sufficient evidence of his ability because he doesn’t always complete the work they set for him. He’s under investigation by CAMHS for ASD/ADHD (should hopefully get the results soon). A recent Wechsler (WISC V) test has shown that he’s very bright but has an extremely low processing speed (he got average or high average for everything else).

In short, I’m unhappy with his school’s approach with him. It feels to me that although he may have some genuine issues with attention/hyperactivity, he’s basically taking the mick at school because his teachers are too soft with him. They’re honestly at a loss at what to do with him when he’s being non-compliant with his school work and they just seem to let him off with it even though he has 1:1 help for written exercises. I’ve asked for any work that he doesn’t complete to be sent home to be completed (we’re strict with him and there’s no way he’d even think of refusing to do school work at home!) but they say this would put too much pressure on him 🙄. I’ve also asked for them to share what he’s learning each week so that we can do extra work to support any gaps in his learning/understanding at home but they’ve refused this too (homework is v minimal and doesn’t always match what the pupils are currently learning - mostly random activities, some of which are arts/craft-based).

I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall with the school. Their nurturing approach is all very nice and all but my son (who responds well to strict discipline) is purely taking advantage of the situation and failing himself in the process. Obviously, he’s only 6 so he doesn’t realise this but he’s taking the easy option because he can. I get so angry with him for it sometimes but then I realise it’s not exactly his fault if the school are enabling him to behave this way.

I need to talk to the school again about this early in the new term but they’re so reluctant to listen to anything I have to say. I feel like a villain for even suggesting that my son should be performing better academically. They take what I say as an insult/criticism rather than simply recognising that I’m just trying to support my son at home so that he performs better at school (thereby making their lives easier too!). Any suggestions on what I can do... without having to change schools? (v difficult option as we would have to sell up and move house to send him to another school - there’s nothing else near to us).

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cestlavielife Sun 21-Apr-19 23:02:56

School /lea are going to listen to professionals and their advice. You need professionals reports with specific recommendations
Not the parent alone.
So wait for the assessment reports.
A firm diagnosis plus recommendations and strategies may help.

Who did the wisc assessments? Educational psychologist? What recommendations have they made ?
Ask them to meet school and come up with IEP together with you and school.

Redpostbox Sun 21-Apr-19 23:07:09

Teachers can only do so much. They have 30 odd children in a class to cope with.

BabyMommaDec2012 Sun 21-Apr-19 23:17:33

Thanks Cestla and Red. The WISC test was performed by a CAMHS psychologist. The original advice from the EP has led us to the ‘-’ approach that we’re in. They’ve tried fidget tots, headphones, weighted blankets, wobble cushions, now/next boards etc but none of these work because all my son needs is someone to strictly/sternly tell him to sit down, be quiet and do his work. If he doesn’t do it, then ‘meaningful’ sanctions which will cause him to stop in his tracks and think twice should be put in place (eg - they have a traffic light behaviour system but this doesn’t influence him, neither does the loss of ‘treat’ time). He needs to be threatened with losing something he loves like break time or Lego club to make him comply. Again, I’ve suggested this and have been shot down. Unfortunately, my DS doesn’t response to ‘positive’ behaviour strategies... it sounds awful, but he’s the kind of child who needs the ‘stick’ than the ‘carrot’. The current ‘one size fits all’ behavioural systems that are based on rewards are meaningless to him... hence why the teachers are finding him so tricky to handle... and he’s being checked for ASD...!

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BabyMommaDec2012 Sun 21-Apr-19 23:18:50

Ps - the WISC report has yet been written up by the CAMHS psychologist so there aren’t any recommendations yet. I’ve just been given a synopsis of the raw results so far.

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PutYourBackIntoit Sun 21-Apr-19 23:29:51

Your son has the same wisc results as my 10 year old DD. She had 75th percentile for verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, and working memory, and 5th percentile for speed of processing. This has led to her being 'working towards' throughout school, even though she is bright. More of a concern though is her huge frustration which has led to self harming behaviour.

It sounds like perhaps your son's speed of processing isn't as slow as my dd as he is able to show the school that he is capable.

My advice would be to wait for the CAMHS report. They will recommend an Ed Psych assessment in school. Let the Ed Psych makes recommendations. If he copes better with strict routine and a no nonsense approach, this will be picked up.
Also, if you had communicated this to the psychologist at CAMHS it will most certainly be included in their report.

BabyMommaDec2012 Mon 22-Apr-19 00:10:57

Thanks Putyourbackintoit. May I ask if your DD has an ADHD or autism diagnosis? We’re still waiting on the results but the CAMHS psychologist speculated that his extremely low processing speed (with everything else being fine/very good) could indicates an underlying problem with his attention.

CAMHS hasn’t asked me for my thoughts on what might work in school for my son. Interestingly enough though, the psychologist ended up calling me into the room midway through my sons WISC test in the hope that my presence would focus him (he was going off on tangents and trying to engage her in random conversations so she was finding it had to keep his mind on the tasks she was setting him). I wasn’t allowed to speak to him but just my simply being on the room helped him to focus. Obviously, I can’t sit in his classroom with him each day but I’m hoping that something about increased parental involvement in his school life will be flagged her her report. This is something I’ve suggested to the school with no luck. For instance, having a (v laid back/friendly/informal) chat on school grounds with DS with us and his teachers present about encouraging him to work as well as he does at home in school . Going in once a week to view his workbooks (with DS’s knowledge that this will be happening) to check that he’s doing all the work that is being asked of him to his best ability (if it’s not, we’ll do extra practice at home and have words with him if necessary. He just doesn’t take the teachers seriously enough to perform well for them. School and home are completely separate in his mind - he feels like he can do as he pleases there without repercussions as the school don’t inform us about issues until parents evenings at the end of each term.

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BabyMommaDec2012 Mon 22-Apr-19 00:18:42

Ps - when we ask his teacher how he’s doing during each term at pick ups/drop offs, we’re always told that “he’s doing well” or “he’s fine”. It’s only at parents evenings when we hear that this is not the case. It’s very frustrating! Not reaching age related expectations in school when he can easily do year 1 level writing and maths work at home using workbooks that I’ve got home him is nowhere near ‘fine’ in my definition. No idea what definition of ‘fine’ his teacher is using...

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Noteventhebestdrummer Mon 22-Apr-19 00:26:06

Could you just let him do school as it is on their terms and work separately with him at home on Maths and English?
Could he learn a musical instrument? With the right kind of teacher it's v helpful to learn focus.

Raggerty54 Mon 22-Apr-19 00:34:20

With an ASD diagnosis surely his verbal, social and sensory behaviours are the biggest focus? I doubt he’d be diagnosed with ASD based on his schoolwork alone.

His lack of focus but ability to ‘turn on’ his attention while facing something that interests him could be suggestive of ADHD? Perhaps the inattentive type.

BabyMommaDec2012 Mon 22-Apr-19 09:47:37

Noteventhebest... - I do lots of schoolwork with him at home (using workbooks that follow the yr1/ks1 national curriculum) and he does it well. I’ve asked him why he doesn’t do the same and school and he says it’s because he doesn’t have to at school 🙄(!). He is learning something at school as he’s able to apply the knowledge I may home - he just won’t do the work consistently at school. Until the school starts to put pressure on him he isn’t going to change - if the school won’t/can’t do it, we could do it at home on the days when he won’t complete his work (eg by completing the task at home plus giving him an early bedtime or some other sanction). However, the school won’t share this information with us - when we ask, they just keep telling us ‘he’s fine’ till it all comes out at parents evenings 😡.

Raggerty54 - my son doesn’t have an ASD or ADHD diagnosis yet. We’re waiting on the results. If he has either, it’ll be very very ‘mild’. He doesn’t have ‘obvious’ problems - outside of school, he’s very NT seeming - chatty, friendly, confident, flexible, good sense of humour etc. At school his suspected ASD/ADHD traits mostly show in his reluctance/sometimes refusal to do something that he doesn’t want to do (eg written school work). The other children are much more compliant even though they’d also probably prefer to not to the task and so he stands out. They instinctively know that they need to follow the school rules but he doesn’t. However, he doesn’t behave like this at home because he knows that there’s no chance that he’d get away with it.

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cestlavielife Mon 22-Apr-19 09:49:09

Thing is he has to learn to take teachers seriously. But you could try tutors / music lessons etc.
As he is bright you can sit and explain it.

With my ds an ABA approach worked. (Completely different level of ability but still school were saying he could not do xxx when it was about attention)

Get the paper work and diagnosis and recommendations from ed psych then look at different schools with experience of e.g. adhd if school isn't working.

Namenic Mon 22-Apr-19 10:03:35

Perhaps the delayed consequences need to be taught?

So maybe at home encourage him to do work on his own without you standing over him. First sit with him at the start, then do something else in the same room. Then give instructions for him to start on his own (and periodically check up). Then give him written instructions and leave him and check at the end.

In parallel check his behaviour in class with his teacher. My first priority would be him not disrupting other children. Then listening to instructions and then completing work. He can have reward/discipline based on his behaviour.

I home ed and getting my 5 year old to sit and work/concentrate is v hard. I think some boys can find focusing harder than girls Of the same age.

PutYourBackIntoit Mon 22-Apr-19 10:33:09

She was in the system to have ADD (inattentive) assessment, but once CAMHS did the wisc assessment they cancelled the ADD one as they said her slow processing explained everything.

She too is described as 'fine' at school. However it's quite different to your son as the school day she is very well behaved, shy, works hard, doesn't achieve. At home she has full on meltdowns, physically blocks her eyes and ears if we try and teach her anything. Now I know a fair bit about slow processing (and do does she) life has transformed for us.

I no longer force her to read more than she can cope with and instead I've invested in Audible. She's loving Philip Pullman stories, but still reading Biff and Chip at school.

She basically needs extra time for everything. Not just tasks at school, but conversations, playground games, board games at home, films (she'll watch the same one over and over), getting ready, going to the loo.

I do wonder if either your son has a slightly different wisc profile as he is clearly much more able to show his intellect, I would be interested to find out his numbers when you get them!

SleepDeprivedCabbageBrain Mon 22-Apr-19 10:40:11

The sensory environment must be very different at home, surely? Could this be a factor in why he's able to focus in the peace and quiet with just you there and not in a larger class of kids?

NotAnotherJaffaCake Mon 22-Apr-19 11:02:12

He needs to take the teachers seriously,whether or not they are putting what you think is acceptable pressure or not. Yes,it's frustrating that they say all's fine until parents evening, but he doesn't get to ignore teachers if they ask him to do something. That's where I would be focusing efforts - if an adult at school asks him do do something,he needs to do it to the best of his ability.

BabyMommaDec2012 Mon 22-Apr-19 11:32:01

Wow - thank you for all the responses!

Yes, I’ve been working with my son to understand that he needs to do what the teachers tell him. Every time he agrees but then he continues his behaviour. If he has high-functioning ASD I believe that this is an example of it in him. He honestly just doesn’t seem to ‘get it’. He has 1:1 support for his written work and he’s still messing around for the TAs he work with in this time. If they would (terrible as it sounds) just simply tell him off and no a zero-tolerance approach (even if he cries at first), things would improve. It’s lovely that he’s at a nurturing school, I’m sure this work for other children, but the gentle approach just isn’t working for him. He’s too ‘smart’ for it and he’s shamelessly taking liberties.

When he does schoolwork at home he does this independently is a noisy environment (tv/music on, toddler sibling running around, me doing house housework in the background or in another room). I purposely don’t give him a ‘quiet’ environment to try and mimic the classroom. He performs his work despite the distractions.

Putyourbackintoit - would you be able to reconnect with CAMHS for your DD? My DS scored as follows: verbal comprehension (113), fluid reasoning(115), working memory (103), visual spatial (93), processing speed (63). As I said, my son’s CAMHS psychologist said that such a low processing score (where everyone else is fine or very good) is indicative of an underlying problem with attention. Interestingly for my son, the 2 processing speed tasks are the only WISC tasks that require answers to written/marked with a pen/pencil. My DS really dislikes writing and it’s his weakest area (although he can do it fairly well when he’s in the mood). Not sure if it’s a chicken or egg thing with his low processing speed score - ie. did he score so low because he has genuine processing speed issues or did he score so low simply because he doesn’t like writing/mark making (he’s not fond of drawing or colouring in either).

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MigGril Mon 22-Apr-19 11:32:54

I'd be tempted to get your own independent assessment done. If you can afford it, he doesn't sound ADHD. Poor working memory points more to other issues like dyslexia and it's not the case that children can't learn to read. If they are very intelligent they will still learn to read, just struggle in other areas.

I'd also note that children his age still find expressing things difficult even NT children. I would consider that he actually finds it hard to concentrate in a classroom environment (even when children are being quite there are many distractions) and at home with just you and peace and quite he finds it much easier.

Remeber the school are only looking at average results and don't always do the best for individual children. They often don't have the money or the resources. I'd also be going into school more often actually making an appointment with the teachers not just asking after school. I'd say it is bad that they are not encouraging to do more work at home to keep up with his pears and I'd be concerned at this point that this isn't happening. If you still have this issue going into year2 then I would seriously consider moving school. The more behind he is in primary the hard it will be for him to catch up in high school.

BabyMommaDec2012 Mon 22-Apr-19 12:09:36

MigGril - I tried to get an independent/private assessment for him, even went as far as paying for a consultation meeting (she came highly recommended from a psyc friend of friend of mine in a similar field). However, she told me that the best place for him is CAMHS/the public sector as they have the full range of psyc specialists to assess and support him. To be fair to CAMHS, they’ve now carried out all the assessments that the private psyc recommended that he needed (the WISC, ADOS and ADHD observations).

My son reads extremely well for his age (it somehow just comes naturally to him - he reads fluently and can read words that you’d never expect to even to know, let alone read. It’s crazy!). He will read at school with little/no resistance. It’s just the maths and writing that he is resistant to because he has to think about it and put effort into it in comparison to reading which is easy/effortless for him.

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PutYourBackIntoit Mon 22-Apr-19 12:14:50

Is the score of 63 the composite score? If so, that is indeed very low (lower than 5th percentile).

With that score I'd be surprised if he was able to take in new information easily in any situation. Therefore, as he clearly is able to at home perhaps the testing was somehow skewed. Do you have a good relationship with the CAMHS Psych?

I feel for you, we just want clarity as parents.

I did move DD from her v laid back primary to a structured Catholic primary and although it hasn't changed her academic success, she is a lot calmer as the routine is the same each and every week...one less thing to process.

BabyMommaDec2012 Mon 22-Apr-19 13:09:45

Putyourbackintoit - yep, 63 was the combined score. He came out as extremely low. However, my son is really clever - he easily picks up new and complex concepts/ideas easily. He was chatting to his friends mum about the black holes yesterday 😂. He’s a bright kid which is as plain as day to see if you talk to him - his teachers know his potential, he’s just not doing the work to achieve even age-related expectations. They’re at a loss at what to do with him - they virtually come out and said this. However, they’re still following the Ed Psyc recommendations (which are useless for my son) but not listening to my recommendations (being more strict at school, bringing unfinished work home or using us more to give discipline at home if they are unable to/don’t have the time/manpower).

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BabyMommaDec2012 Mon 22-Apr-19 13:11:50

Apple for all the typos in my messages! I’m trying to keep an eye out for my toddler and typing really fast on my phone!

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BabyMommaDec2012 Mon 22-Apr-19 13:12:17

Apple should be ‘apols’! Damn autocorrect 🙄😂

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TeaForTheWin Mon 22-Apr-19 13:14:39

...to be fair, he's six so it doesn't really matter that much yet. Hopefully test results will help one way or another and by the time he is going into secondary school he will be able to read and write well enough and do basic math (which is really all he needs until exam time when he is in his mid teens). So don't worry so much, hakuna matata. Levels and grades mean precisely nothing until they have relevance for when he leave school. He's six, let him be six and stop stressing. Maybe make a point of going over his spelling/words ect...with him yourself when possible.

itdoesnthavetobefun Mon 22-Apr-19 13:20:50

Hi, your son sounds similar to mine at that age, he has similar wisc profile and a diagnosis of high functioning autism (previously Jew would have been diagnosed as Aspergers) he is now 18 and heading towards great a levels...

I'm wondering why you feel the need to have him at expected levels in all areas? Kids like this often have very spiky profiles (which is why we home educated until year 4)

Your son is bright, and will catch up when he is ready.

It sounds like you are doing everything right, supporting him at home. He'll learn eventually!

I do agree that music tuition can really help though, that's a fab idea.

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