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Advice needed re teacher's written comments - 5yr old ds in year 1

(69 Posts)
MollieO Mon 05-Oct-09 19:03:47

By way of background I found out almost by chance last week that ds's teacher is concerned that he has processing issues. Comment made during a conversation about boring reading material being sent home. She asked me to get his eyes and ears tested. Eyes fine, GP appointment for ears tomorrow.

Today I sent a note in his reading diary to ask her for some comments to aid my discussion with the GP. This is what she wrote (even though she was apparently off sick today - the letter is from her):

"X appears to have an inability to repeat what the teacher has said to him, either in group discussion or 1 to 1. He appears genuinely to be unaware of what has been said and discussed. However, he will make an effort to listen in to adult conversations which do not concern him." I find the last sentence to be a bit sniping.

"He has a tendency to interrupt when a teacher or other adult is talking."

"He displays a lack of any motivation to work in class and this is also apparent at home." Well I have told her and the TA that ds is bored with the reading material and it is hard to get him to read non-stories.

Am I being PFB? I had assumed she would write specific concerns, not such meaningless generalisations that can probably be applied to most 5 yr olds at different points.

What do I do next? We are seeing the GP tomorrow night and I'd prefer to have specific examples of her behaviour concerns. I read these comments (there was nothing else in the letter) and can only think that ds's teacher doesn't actually like him. sad

cazzybabs Mon 05-Oct-09 19:06:48

No I think that is is honset about him....better to have the facts than have your teacher lie.

It is hard to read negative things about your child...TBH I may write this about a really doesn't mean I don't like them.

SO I do think you are being PFB...but I can understand why

muddleduck Mon 05-Oct-09 19:07:31

The comments sound bonkers to me.

Is there some else who knows him well whose judgement you trust who could give you an objective opinion on this? His teacher from last year?

MollieO Mon 05-Oct-09 19:09:35

I tried to find out from him what adult conversations he has been eavesdropping on. I just thought that was an odd comment and other than that it is all a bit vague. I know that a paed consultant will want specific egs and context but I'm not sure how to ask the teacher for this.

MollieO Mon 05-Oct-09 19:11:30

I won't get to see his teacher before the GP appointment tomorrow. Ds had fab school reports last year. The only issue raised was a need to work on speaker/listener exchange. He was viewed as a well-motivated and enthusiastic pupil.

argento Mon 05-Oct-09 19:11:32

The negative comments about him eavesdropping and interrupting don't seem to have any relevance to "processing issues" or the GP.

LIZS Mon 05-Oct-09 19:12:46

Sounds like a good starting point. It is hard to see it in black and white though. Not sniping , he can't distinguish between what is relevant to him and what is not. Perhaps can't tune out background noise and conversations so is easily distracted. Examples would be helpful but if needs be that can come later if you get a referral tp a developemtnal paed.

muddleduck Mon 05-Oct-09 19:13:20

I would ask for a meeting with his current and previous teachers together - seems very odd that they have such different view of him. Which is the more experienced teacher?

cazzybabs Mon 05-Oct-09 19:14:56

I think she maybe put it in to show you he is not deaf. Do you think he is weak in the class? Does he like school? What does he like doing?

cazzybabs Mon 05-Oct-09 19:16:03

There is a hige difference between key stage 1 and the foundation terms of expectations of listening, class teaching, group work.

mmrred Mon 05-Oct-09 19:16:38

She seems to be suggesting that it's not a hearing problem (eg will listen to her quiet convo with someone) but that he 'tunes out' when instructions are given - she says 'genuinely' so she's not suggesting he's being naughty.

So is it a school issue or can he repeat and respond appropriately to instructions at home? I think 'boredom' sounds a bit out of the ordinary for a 5 year old - does he have specific books he will read with lots of attention at home?

I don't think the comments are bonkers at all - and she's gone to the effort of acknowledging your input (ie the home reading thing). She's concerned, she wants to do something about it - that's got to be good, right? Not to just let him get totally behind and maybe start acting out because he doesn't get what is going on?

Goblinchild Mon 05-Oct-09 19:17:46

It was tactlessly phrased, but she may be concerned that he's unaware of the social boundaries of conversations in the way that an average 5 year old might be.
So he's listening to things that don't involve him, switching off when he ought to be listening and interrupting because he doesn't realise that it's not his turn.
The GP might pick up a bit more from the clues she's given.

madwomanintheattic Mon 05-Oct-09 19:22:01

is she trying to say that he has some difficulties with social norms? the turn taking/ exchange and appropriate application in different social interactions? potentially attention/ time to task issues? (the motivation bit)

it's a bit vague, but if she's concerned enough to suggest developmental checks so early in the school year, then i would be taking it seriously tbh.

sometimes yr r teachers let a few things ride as they can become less noticeable over time - what may not concern you too much in 4/5 yo can become something that does require a second opinion in a 5/6 yo.

worth passing on her comments - the gp will only ask a few further questions to decide if any further assessment is necessary anyway - he/she isn't likely to refer for developmental assessment if they see no need. the paeds are busy enough lol.

MollieO Mon 05-Oct-09 19:42:19

I don't have any of these issues with ds at home. He is good at interacting with other children, taking turns, listening and comprehending. If I hadn't seen his name in the letter I would have assumed that I'd been given someone else's letter by mistake.

He has been uninterested in homework as it is really dull reading with no proper story or outcome. He writes well but can't see the point in writing out his letters 20 times. His spelling is good too although he did get some wrong in his test today - they weren't on the list we'd been given to learn so it is hardly surprising.

I hadn't thought of the adult conversation showing that is hearing is fine. Wonder why she wants me to get it tested then and why she couldn't be a bit more upfront when we spoke about her concerns. I also wonder what she would have done if I hadn't initiated the conversation about the reading material. We don't have parents' evening until next term.

I suppose I am struggling to believe that a child who was a model pupil last year is now the worst pupil in the class.

madwomanintheattic Mon 05-Oct-09 19:47:59

she hasn't said he is the worst pupil in the class, has she?

she has just said - something isn't right, there are a few markers which concern me a little. to be on the safe side, maybe we should get these things checked out?

i think that she probably initiated this a little too soon, and only because you were discussing other things (which is probably why she wasn't v clear). she would probably have waited until parent's evening and been a bit clearer about her concerns, but thought she would strike whilst the iron was hot? maybe?

i wouldn't be too worried tbh - no harm in getting him checked out, it's such a shame when teachers and parents wait too long for children that are struggling with something or other, when often a small change or strategy makes a huge difference.

FairyMum Mon 05-Oct-09 19:52:15

Sounds bonkers and you are quite right can be applied to most 5 year-olds. I would just totally ignore and hope for a better teacher next year. Most parents have some truly odd stories about primary school teachers.

madwomanintheattic Mon 05-Oct-09 19:53:15

you may be on the right lines though - he may be bright and bored, but then a huge part of school is learning social norms and understanding the nuances of exchange lol, even for bright kids.

it took ds1 three teachers before we found one that understood how to keep him motivated (and even she gave up sometimes). he's a bright boy, but can't see the point of exerting himself to do pointless and repetitive tasks. he hasn't had any issues with turn taking and social stuff though - i would take the mild concern seriously enough, but not get too worried. he's still a little diddle, really, and waiting for adults to pause when you are trying to say something is pretty boring really.

MollieO Mon 05-Oct-09 20:02:28

She did say that she has never had a pupil like him and I don't think she meant it in a good way either.

He has always been talkative and his teachers (including this one) comment about his exceptional vocabulary. He is very curious and wants to know about everything.

cazzybabs Mon 05-Oct-09 20:09:14

Look getting his hearing and eye sight checked is a fairly basic is something to get checked out. It could be has heraring losss when he has a cold for instance.

don't forget the 1st teacher could have not been telling you the whole story. The report could have only focused on the postivites and not the negativies.

honselty please don't take it personally...see it as someone who has interested in your child having no barriers to their learning.

Clarabel22 Mon 05-Oct-09 20:13:56

I would be uncomfortable with the sniping sentence too. There was no need to put it in those terms, she is expressing her irritation in that sentence. My son is in year 2 and the descriptions you and the teacher have given sound like him for the whole of last year. His teacher did not have any worries about it but a supply teacher we had for 2 weeks made a big issue of it. He matured quickly over the holidays and is on a level with his peers this year.
Your teacher seems to be implying he has problems with concentration and ability to apply himself. For heavens sake, he is 5 and I think many children, esp. boys, are the same at that age. If you don't have any worries about him at home then ignore the teacher - who knows what mood she was in when she wrote it (esp, if she was off sick!)? Definitely show the letter to your GP, as he/she will probably reassure you.

aircraftannie Mon 05-Oct-09 21:05:40

I wouldn't be upset by those comments.

I certainly wouldn't ignore what she has said, and I'm surprised by those who would. She has spent quite a lot of time with your ds by now, and has given you a professional opinion and advice.

I think she is suggesting GP and checking hearing, so that that can be ruled out and she and you can then get on with figuring out how to help him learn and concenttrate well in class. She is obviously noticing that there is something unusual that a child who has such an excellent vocabulary, apparently has trouble repeating back what has been said. And the comment that she has never had a child like him may be about this point. Be glad that she hasn't written him off as a child who jsut doesn't listen or behave well, but that she has noticed that there is something more to it than that. Also she sounds very interested in him, I don't think you should interpret any of it as her not liking him or thinking badly of him at all.

primarymum Mon 05-Oct-09 21:15:02

Remember that the teacher has (presumably) experience of a wide variety of 5 year olds and will know that they are all unique! That being said she has noticed that there is something " different " about your child's behaviour that doesn't perhaps fall in the normal parameters and feels that it necessitates some further investigation. There may well be nothing wrong and it is just immaturity/general boys behaviour/lack of interest in the topic! However she would be failing in her duty if she didn't point out that there is perhaps a potential problem( and you would quite rightly be annoyed and concerned if no action was taken and , in future years there proved to be a problem). So maybe she is being over cautious ( and perhaps she hasn't expressed herself as you would like -although this is typical of teacher/GP correspondence, you should see whta GP's say to teachers, most of it is gobbledegook and full of caveats!-) but at least she is making her concerns felt rather than just glossing over them or labelling him a "difficult child.

LIZS Mon 05-Oct-09 21:36:13

I really think you are overreacting to the semnatics of the letter but I sort of know where you are coming from. ds has a relatively high verbal iq but is dyspraxic and I can relate to some of what you describe. It wasn't comfortable hearing that he wasn't a typical 5 year old and even now (he's 11) often a teacher will say they've not come across such a child before ! Take the letter to the gp and ask for a referral , that will buy you time to speak to various people and they'll probably be sent questionnaires. Better to lay all perspectives out and then let the experts rule decide.

MollieO Mon 05-Oct-09 22:11:05

One concern I do have is the way ds's teacher raised her concerns. If I hadn't made contact about the reading material I wonder when she would have spoken to me? I have asked for her comments in prep for a GP appointment that should only be addressing ds's hearing.

His teacher asked me if I wanted her to speak to the SENCO, she didn't suggest it. She seems to have a lot of issues but has said nothing to me about ways of addressing them.

Compare that to another teacher who had concerns about a pupil, raised them with the parents and suggested ways of dealing with the problem.

I've been told of issues as an aside and no constructive suggestions on ways of dealing with ds's apparent problems, simply a comment to say that she has never taught a child like ds didn't know what to do and has spoken to the head. hmm

ilovemydogandmrobama Mon 05-Oct-09 22:23:04

I don't have any experience with teachers (as DD is 3 years old) but I would ask for specifics, rather than general comments.

He sounds utterly bored, or perhaps doesn't understand what the teacher is asking him? He may be really bright.

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