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Is the school creating problems for my DD?(72 Posts)
My DD is 7 and in Y3 at a small all girls independent school, where she has been since nursery. She is in a class of 14.
She is a very good reader, can fluently read books aimed at much older children, but her handwriting is poor as she has flatly refused to write for most of her time at school.
Over the past couple of years she has become increasingly disruptive in class in classes where they have to write anything. She’s fine doing maths and the other subjects she’s comfortable with. The school are now taking her out of class to work with learning support when they are doing writing.
The problem is she loves going to learning support and I feel she is behaving badly on purpose to get to have cosy times there. I feel the school is creating problems longer term here.
There have also been issues with her friends and the school have recommended a psychologist who observed her at school and says she is very bright and popular but emotionally immature for her age. she’s given me tips for talking about feelings but that’s about it.
I’m feeling a bit lost because the problem is getting worse. I feel the school doesn’t really know how to handle her but they are putting the frighteners on me that no other school would do any better and she might not even get into another school because her behaviour is so disruptive.
I’ve been to see some bigger coed primary schools and they seem from the outside very happy places and I am wondering whether I should try to move her.
Has anyone had experience of moving an unhappy child with mild behaviour problems? Or been successful sorting them out? I feel at such a loss.
Do you mean her handwriting is messy? Or something else?
If the problem is just messiness and not that she finds it hard then I’d be very tempted to move her to state school where the pressure to be perfect should be removed.
Plus the consequences for not writing won’t be to get 1:1
I think you're seeing a not-uncommon side effect of well-intentioned learning support base use.
We see this in state mainstream too where some students do a lot of their writing with TAs or outside the classroom at primary and then in secondary they struggle with independent writing.
Or, more commonly, students who get into the habit of going to the support base for a range of spurious reasons end up going there more and more (often timing their need to go with when soft members of staff who are on the rota who'll let them sit and chat instead of doing work), then they get more wound up about being in class because they don't know what's going on so what started as work avoidance becomes a more pressing issue requiring more input etc, phased returns to class etc.
Support bases and intervention can be brilliant, but there are some unintended consequences of their use at times.
They really need to be working with you to discuss her behaviour, strengths and weaknesses, then trying to find a way forward that isn't your DC continuing as is.
Is it writing by hand thats the problem? Or constructing sentences?
Have you considered that there may be an underlying cause?
Is anything else going on beyond the writing issue ? I ask as you mention someone saying she was emotionally immature and friendship problems. My DD started to noticably struggle with emotions etc at 7 (although with hindsight things were going on earlier) and 2 years on we are now in the queue for an autism assessment. She is of course an exceptional and wonderful DD! but she also needs support in areas which are sometimes surprising to us when she is so advanced in other areas.
I don't mean to be brutal, but just wanted to say as your post felt familiar to my DDs situation, and I now understand that asd can present differently in girls than you might expect. it has really been helpful for us to use approaches aimed at children with ASD and their dramatic and rapid effectiveness has kind of reinforced to us that our DD may be on the spectrum.
Thanks so much for your replies - as you can tell I am losing sleep over this!
She has a block she can’t explain about handwriting and more generally the quality of her work. She’s left handed and it is not as tidy as other kids. Partly that is because she doesn’t seem bothered about how well her work is done as long as it is done. Her writing and drawing are very messy and she can’t be bothered (?) to make things as good as I know she could make them if she put more effort in.
I don’t think there is an underlying issue other than that she doesn’t care enough about her schoolwork.
I just want her to be happy at school. She’s very sporty and works very hard at the sports she plays. I would be open to her moving to state school if I knew she wouldn’t be disruptive - but I fear that in a class of 33 things would get worse.
Can she write neatly under any circumstances? How is she at PE?
I would seriously consider dyspraxia. Don’t be fooled by the “don’t fancy it” attitude - that’s a defence. I seriously doubt changing schools will do a thing. A private clinical psychologist is £800. They do a day of reports and then you’ll know.
Milkjetmum - The school are suggesting dyslexia but since her reading and spelling are great I don’t know why they are saying that. I’m open minded to what the issue is, so even if she doesn’t have any strong asd traits I’d be willing to try techniques for managing it if it would help her.
Robotsindisguise - I think her handwriting is ok. It’s not as amazing as some of her friends but it’s legible.
PE is her favourite subject. She loves sports and she does a lot outside school as well.
I think there is a root cause, you need to ask the 5 Whys?
Why is her hand writing messy?
Because she can’t be bothered, but why?
Why can’t she be bothered?
I do think private schools can focus on these issues but equally they come under a lot of pressure quickly by other parents if a child is being disruptive
What have the school said for the handwriting? Generally there is an underlying cause of the reading and writing is at such different levels (should have a level of proportionality)
Have you actually sat down and explained that neatness and presentation is important though? She might be quick minded and rushing to jot down her thoughts because she has so many ideas in a short space of time. She might think it's best to write it all down and not have thought of going more slowly for the sake of neatness.
Also she might be rushing because she doesn't enjoy it and wants to hurry on to the next (non writing) activity.
Both are legitimate reasons but you won't know until you talk to her and have a discussion about neatness and its importance
I was just trying to google it but my nephew was diagnosed with a condition linked to his handwriting, it wasn’t dyslexia... I’ll ask my sister when she wakes!
Tactics wise it could be something as simple as not expecting her to think about 2 things at once. Eg my daughter struggles if for example I say go upstairs and brush your teeth and then my husband tells her to brush her hair. She can manage both of those things, but what she struggles with is prioritizing and so she gets stressed as she doesn't automatically know which to do first if you see what I mean.
Similarly at school if someone else is upset or misbehaving in the classroom she can't filter that out and hear the task instructions at the same time, so then gets stressed as she doesn't know what she should be doing and worries she'll be in trouble if she asks and reveals she wasn't listening. Just some examples of little things that affect my DD.
Bringon, is it dysgraphia?
Thanks all - 5 whys is a great shout. When I ask it, I get to she doesn’t care because she finds it boring. And she doesn’t see why she has to do boring things. When you explain to her why things need to be neat she shrugs her shoulders or rolls her eyes.
I think it’s insightful to say she wants to rush so she can get into something more enjoyable. Also that saying she doesn’t care is a defence mechanism.
Some of the girls in her class can do beautiful work, apparently effortlessly. I think DD feels she can’t do that so why bother trying. I feel quite helpless about this because I do t know how to inspire or motivate her to do her best work for herself.
Milkjetmum - those examples are quite familiar! DD gets very easily distracted trying to do a series of tasks like that. If I say put your book away she will disappear and I will find the book abandoned in the bathroom and she’s found something else to do.
In class she is distracted by other kids misbehaving and tends to be the one who gets into trouble - she was kicked out of choir for talking - turns out she asked a kid ‘what are you doing?’ who she was standing next to who was moving around.
Googling dysgraphia :-)
As a PP suggested, look up dysgraphia.
I would suggest the small class size and all that learning support is ideal for her. Yes, there is a danger she plays up to get the support, but perhaps she needs it. She sure as hell wouldn’t get the same support in a state school - there is just no funding.
7 is still very young and she has been described as immature, give the school time to work to find a solution that works. I predominately teach age 6-8 and often I find that lots of difficulties with reading and writing solve themselves with practise, support and maturity.
I think it was a big turning point for us when we realized she wasn't just being 'naughty' and that when we'd asked her to do something 3 times and she hadn't that maybe it was because she couldn't at that moment/environment rather than wouldn't if you see what I mean. Giving the school that knowledge too was also important to get her in a good place.
In left handed as were two of my uni friends.we all angled our notes virtually upside down and wrote a completely different way to right handers. Has she been shown how to write left handed. At primary I was only shown how to write right handed and was just like your daughter. I was helped by being shown how to write by another leftie.
Might be worth taking her to see an occupational therapist - they look at writing from a physical point of view.
My 9yo son is similar and we took him to a private assessment with the OT to look at writing and sensory issues (he was on the ASD pathway). She found out he was hypermobile in his wrists and various other things that explained the messiness and lack of desire to engage. She put a plan together which helped and he does a lot of school writing on laptops as well so he can focus on content rather than writing.
Lots of good suggestions about digging into underlying reasons, which is important.
But also - is it legible but messy? Or truly unreadable?
My brother (a leftie) and I (a rightie) both have always had messy handwriting. Both hated those projects that involved creating a display/poster with little boxes of writing and some carefully drawn pictures...!
We both have post-graduate degrees, he's a research scientist and I'm a senior manager in the non-profit sector. We can both put together a good presentation when we need to - but it is focused on content and done on a laptop.
Seriously, neat handwriting and drawing become less and less important, being able to handle ideas and information get more and more important. It is also worth thinking about whether her handwriting is adequate to express herself in writing - if so, it might be better to take the pressure off about the neatness.
Thanks all - I’m so glad I posted this, getting so many different angles to look at this from.
Allongton - it is legible. I think it’s ok. I’m a creative director and I think ideas are way more important than presentation and she has lots of good ideas! I’m not sure where the pressure to be perfect has come from, from herself or from the school.
As a teacher I would recommend an ed psych assessment looking at dysgraphia and possibly ASD from your description. You really wouldn't know if there was anything underlying the issues from a feeling, better to get an expert to assess.
Even for dyslexia, not all children have reading and spelling challenges, that is only one aspect of dyslexia. Difficulties with processing speed, recall of sequences of instructions etc could all be manifestations, as could the writing difficulties. The poor behaviour might be frustration due to an unsupported need.