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Frustrated parents, child and teacher

(86 Posts)
BringOnTheSunshine Sun 25-Nov-12 03:16:12

I have posted in behaviour/development:

I will try to be brief: DS (6y) is in P2.

DS is one of the youngest in his class and is really struggling educationally and socially at school.

Throughout P1 we spent 2 hours per night on homework, not by choice, feeling we were not getting very far.

DS struggled to retain phonics and blending was impossible. He was able to read some words but forgot simple words even after frequent repetition.
From one page turn in the story he would forget "and" or "stop" etc. His behaviour in school deteriorated very quickly and we had our first red slip before christmas, (he threw a crayon and which hit another child, didn't throw it at the child but not the point). I was phoned twice 1 = he cut another childs hair, (didn't realise the other child cut his hair until he was home but don't think the teacher had noticed) 2= he cut a hole in his trousers. He was no longer allowed to sit with classmates when using scissors or use scissors unless supervised. We had monthly phone calls with the teacher and he was started on a behaviour chart. The school felt he was immature compared to his older classmates and felt things would improve by P2.

At the end of P1 he was able to write a simple sentence of 5 words but couldn't blend and though he progressed slowly through reading books, still had the same difficulty remembering phonic sounds and words.
P1 teacher was passing along that he needed firm guidance in class to push him to complete tasks.

He started P2 in August and we are no further forward. We spend 2 -4 hours each night working on his homework. He tries hard, sometimes ends up in tears of frustration because he can't remember a word he knew the page before etc. I asked for a meeting with his teacher after the first month to find out how he was getting on and express our concerns. The teacher said she would spend till Oct holidays observing him. He attends a session with deputy head once per week along with a group who are struggling. The teacher has asked for another 30 min session once per week to work on writing/reading. He was given a behaviour chart again...which has since stopped!

He can explain what task is being done, give answers and solve problems verbally but struggles with writing. He wrote a whole page of random repetitious letters when asked to write about a topic. He will sit staring at his work for an entire lesson...not disrupting others...just doing nothing! They have sent incomplete work home which is a nightmare on top of homework.

He tells me he is not good at reading/writing and it is too hard. He hates school and thinks the teachers don't help him. He also said that he doesn't bother telling the teacher when other kids push/hit him as they don't believe him!

We are on his third red slip so far since August. His behaviour is getting worse at school and we are really at a loss. I have had two calls from the deputy head. 1= to complain he had been swinging his lunch bag in lunch line...not attempting to hit anyone, swinging it around and over his head and to inform us of restarting behaviour chart. 2= he had created a behaviour chart for another pupil who he felt needed one due to disruptive behaviour in class.
The third slip was posted yesterday asking us to arrange a meeting to discuss his behaviour. He had pushed passed a teacher in the lunch hall and ran past another teacher with his arms out and hit her side. Both of these were intentional.

Ds is a sweet and loving boy. At home he is a boistrous, bundle of energy, loves superheroes, being tickled, playing jokes, runnning about, playing with friends in the village. Being 6, he has his moments of being too rough..usually when playing and getting carried away rather than random hitting. Though he has pushed or hit his sister (3y 11mo) and is aware this is not acceptable etc. He is helpful and will tidy up toys etc and help his sister/play with her.

He has a routine, is in bed by 8pm, he gets affection and praise and correction/time out as needed.

Negatively, he is seen as too loud, (he has a loud voice rather than shouting IYSWIM) and is a fidget, needing frequent reminders to sit still, focus on tasks etc. He shows, (I guess), the usual 6 year old cheekiness and attitude.

He knows...can verbalise... that the behaviour is wrong. He is aware of consequences for good/inappropriate behaviour.
We have both spoken to him regarding his behaviour and he has lost Wii time. (he was given his first wii games this month for his birthday and loves it) and is aware that he will probably miss the school trip to the pantomime.

DH is concerned that the behaviour is related to his frustration about class work. DH is Dyslexic and we have mentioned concerns about ds being dyslexic to the teacher in previous meetings. The teacher said formal assessment wouldn't happen until he is 7.

We are all tired, frustrated and utterly fed up....I include the teachers in this!

IndigoBelle Sun 25-Nov-12 06:34:07

Certainly sounds like he is dyslexic. You don't need to wait till he gets a formal dx - after all one (of many) definitions of dyslexia (from the Scottish dyslexia association) is a child who fails to learn to read and / or write despite adequate tuition.

Therefore he has dyslexia.

Doesn't sound like he's badly behaved. Sounds like the school have unrealistic expectations and are not supporting him with his dyslexia and therefore he's in a bad way.

There's no easy answers, but there are a few things you can do.

* stop spending 2 hours a night on homework. It's not helping and it's not fair. It's almost certainly making things worse. Tell school you won't do it and then don't.

* research dyslexia. A diagnosis of dyslexia brings no help and no answers with it, so don't wait till you get a formal report. Start understanding it now.

* don't believe the schools naughty label. He isn't naughty. School is hell for him and he's doing the best he can.

nooka Sun 25-Nov-12 06:50:06

It sounds as if school is a very difficult place for your son, and I would be going in and asking the school what they are doing to help him because it doesn't sound as if they are really doing anything very much. My ds also found school very difficult (and also is dyslexic) so your story sounds familiar. It certainly sounds as if your son has some additional needs that are not being addressed with a once a week half hour session and a behaviour chart that is not being used consistently. We were in the UK and had an IEP - I'm guessing you are in Scotland, so I'm not sure of the equivalent, but essentially it's a plan used to address in a consistent way the behaviour/educational problems.

I agree with Indigo I really would stop with the homework, if school is very hard then having school at home as well must be exhausting! We opted out of spellings and reading at home because ds resisted so, and it wasn't helping him in any case, just escalating the frustration. For us having synthetic phonics tutoring got ds's reading back on track, but he was being taught mixed methods so there was an obvious problem to address.

You might want to think about asking for a referral to a community pead, either through school or your GP, even if it's just to rule more significant issues out. I found it very frustrating that dyslexia testing is done so late, but then many schools do nothing as a result in any case.

Valdeeves Sun 25-Nov-12 08:01:47

As a teacher and a parent - I totally agree with the above. I'm disapointed in the school - he needs a support assistant clearly as its obvious his behaviour is about struggling to cope academically. Having taught many kids who sound similar I can tell you two things.
1. It is the schools responsibility to differentiation the learning for him. It's yours to support this.
2. He will be alright - he just needs to stop being pushed in a way that is not working.

I agree with the research for dyslexia - I think it costs you a fair bit to diagnose (I don't think scho

Valdeeves Sun 25-Nov-12 08:07:41

School pays.

Just a tip from me - I found kids who didn't retain info were better if asked to retain just one thing in a visual or creative way. Draw pictures with him, sing words to a tune. Try and get outside the box but keep it very short - one thing a night or he won't have any chance of remembering it.

I think you sound like an amazing mum to understand your child and support him so much.

Valdeeves Sun 25-Nov-12 08:09:25

Differentiate! I mean - btw - I should add I really felt for your son when U read this. He clearly just needs a support assistant helping him.

fridayfreedom Sun 25-Nov-12 08:12:04

He's six!! lots of this is normal behaviour for six year old boys ( and girls!!) I help run beavers and non of them can sit still, listen for more than a few mins and they do silly behaviour stuff!!
Totally agree with the above re the homework, 2-4 hrs a night, give him a break and back off, I'd be acting out if that was happening to me.
Am amazed the school rang you re the bag swinging incident, why didn't they just tell him to stop- job done.
Also agree re getting extra help and support for him. Think your DH is right about the behaviuor being linked to what is going on.

lljkk Sun 25-Nov-12 08:50:13

2-4 hours a night! Wow. sad There is no way I would spend more than an hour, maybe limit it to half hour and then be done with it, whatever he has or hasn't finished.

Yes he sounds below average but ime (mere parent helper) a lot of children would be on about the same level academically at same age, esp. boys wrt writing.

DS2 had far worse behaviour at same age & has settled down now (young 8yo in yr4).

I can't decide if you are being too hard on him or if school isn't giving you right support or both.

Have you had his eyesight checked? Bad vision can present a little like dyslexia, I found out.

seeker Sun 25-Nov-12 08:56:49

I would stop doing anything at home AT ALL 2-4 hours is ridiculous, frankly.

Stop doing anything and see what happens.

BringOnTheSunshine Sun 25-Nov-12 14:39:37

He has had eye and hearing tests and both are fine.

Trust me when I say none of us enjoy any part of the homework. We always start with the intention of getting it all done so we can play/relax/get dinner etc but it rarely works that way.

We know it is not working but feel pressurised to keep pushing him.
DH has hellish memories of school but he clearly remembers being ignored by teachers as the "difficult/slow/trouble maker" and he didn't complete school. He is scared of the same happening to DS so feels he has to push him. The concern is if we stop all work with him, then how will he progress at all!

The teachers words about ds: "never met a boy like him" They are also at a loss. She did not feel the behaviour chart was any use as his behaviour in class is ok. He just produces very little/no work. He has had moments of refusing to work which results in being sent to the head teacher.

Regarding the phone calls, I am fed up frankly. They have zero tollerance of any physical violence/threat etc. They want us to work together to resolve behaviours, which is good. But I honestly feel like they are starting to single him out. We started sitting in the car after dropping DD at nursery to watch how he behaves in the lunch line and playground. None of the children were doing anything unusual for a group of kids their age. There was shouting, a bit of bumping and shoving, bag swinging, throwing the ball so someone had to run after it, kids picking up other kids to prove they were stronger etc. Why phone me about ds swinging his other kids do without anyone telling them to "nip that behaviour in the bud" The call about the behaviour chart he made was frankly odd. No ds should not have made and given it, but he didn't understand what was wrong....the teacher explained to him and the end! no, they phone DH to discuss this innappropriate behaviour and express how serious it is...even mentioned it as bullying behaviour! To be very clear, the teacher states he does not verbally/physically attack other students or disrupt their work. We have watched him at play time and he plays like every other kid, running with friends, (mostly girls), playing with toys etc

We feel like we are failing DS and I am struggling between telling the school to get a grip and sobboing quietly

BringOnTheSunshine Sun 25-Nov-12 15:01:14

They feel he is capable of more than he is doing but don't feel he requires educational support. I am at a loss as to how I make him work when in school....

They have a yellow warning/red action slip. Red slips come home and are signed by the parent and returned to the head teacher. They also loose golden time at school. The ruls is if they have 3 or more red slips per term, they loose out on the school activities. They haven't told me yet that he can't go to the panto...I am just expecting it as it was mentioned at the last meeting we had.

I believe they assume that his behaviour/attitude is the root problem...and he can't be bothered doing the work. We have spoken to them about his work at home, the struggles, tears etc...I wrote a list, (very anal) about the specific reading/writing issues/patterns and they are unconcerned. They said by p3 things even out!

IndigoBelle Sun 25-Nov-12 15:16:44

Honestly - I would be looking to move schools.

The school sounds dreadful. Eventually your DS will get a dx if dyslexia - but that won't change schools attitude or help your DS.

pantaloons Sun 25-Nov-12 15:18:54

I'm just a mum, no expert, but I think he has been labelled as "the troublesome one" and that's that as far as the teachers are concerned. I have a 7 year old ds and have had one red slip home because he peed in the bin! And actually the slip was more about the fact he got very angry when challenged than about the actual deed. Swinging bags and the like is something they should be saying "don't do that please, you might hurt someone." not sending red slips home for.

I know my 3 dc's couldn't manage 2 hours homework a night, they do their reading and spellings and then relax and really need this time to tune out. I'd stop the formal stuff and if you feel you need to do something try some vaguely educational games.

Sorry I don't have any real advice, just wanted to say I think it sounds like school is expecting a 6 year old to behave like a 16 year old.

Feenie Sun 25-Nov-12 15:20:29

Good advice, Indigobelle - and great to see you back thanks

BringOnTheSunshine Sun 25-Nov-12 15:35:41

Should I ask for a meeting with the teacher, deputy head and head teacher? I have met with the teacher/deputy head at parents night & for behaviour meetings but never the head. I feel like getting them all in a room to discuss it might clear the air and we can all come up with a plan.

Forget to say...He has been attending SALT since pre school year due to speech difficulties, (mild), and she feels DS requires "over-educated" to understand and retain her lessons.

BringOnTheSunshine Sun 25-Nov-12 15:37:14


IndigoBelle Sun 25-Nov-12 15:54:45

Over learning is just teacher speak for lots of repetition.

SALT problems often exist with dyslexia.

seeker Sun 25-Nov-12 15:58:29

Do you think you say to the teacher that you are going to stop all homework until Christmas and concentrate on having a nice time at home? Then spend the time reading to him, making and writing Christmas cards, making mince pies- all that sort of thing. Then maybe talk about it all in the new year when everyone's taken a breather?

Tgger Sun 25-Nov-12 16:09:42

Move schools. Start again. He is 6. And quit the homework. If you musit max 15-30 minutes done with a timer then stop.

Good luck.

skaen Sun 25-Nov-12 16:10:29

Your poor DS. The school sound horrible. Fwiw, my brother struggled terribly with reading and writing. He wasn't dyslexic but his eyes hadn't developed properly so they weren't processing the information - he'd been fine on sight tests as that wasn't testing the same thing.

The strategies were very similar toy hose for dyslexia so it might be a food idea to start looking into other methods which might help him learn and stop doing 2 hours per night of homework!

(I have a 5 yo DD is enjoys school but it would be a horrible struggle to get her to do more than 10 minutes!)

Good luck.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 25-Nov-12 16:17:06

Your child is 6
When does he play lego
doodle on a piece of paper for an hour
look out the window for an hour
doze while pretending to do a jigsaw
flick a leaf over a stick 30 times
contemplate his navel
all the things that create the lateral synapse connections in the brain?

if he is dyslexic, your obsession with making him not be dyslexic will impede the rest of his brain developing to compensate
stop living your aspirations through him
(as that is what 2 hours of homework at age 6 signifies)

let him be a child so that he has somewhere to grow up from

rhinobaby Sun 25-Nov-12 16:34:40

Our school homework policy for this age is maximum 1 hour per week. The school is being very unreasonable. Agree stop the homework, do what seeker suggests instead.

BringOnTheSunshine Sun 25-Nov-12 16:45:09

Dh is just back with the kids after visiting their gran. We are discussing everything suggested. I actually mentioned to dh about stopping everything until after new year so we can all get a break. I can't express how much dh is scared of ds falling further behind! this is not about ds failing us or falling below our standards. It is about us failing him and trying to work out how to help him!

TalkinPeace2, I think you may have mistaken our intenetion. We are not setting extra work for ds. We do not want or expect ds to do homework for such a long time. We do not push ds to become more than he can. We are just attempting to complete the homework set. It takes that length of time to actually get through a handful of reading pages and some spelling words.

If he is dyslexic we will do everything we can to support him, not push or force him into being anything "special".
I have told him our goals are for him to be happy, have friends and try hard at school. The emphasis is try!

seeker, our home feels like a draining battleground at times, (well mon-fri). With the struggles, frustration and general annoyance. I want DS to enjoy school, (as much as possible), he loved stories but now can't really be bothered with them. I think we all need a break from the pressure and stress

seeker Sun 25-Nov-12 16:49:18

Op- I didn't really say all I wanted to say- I got distracted. The important thing is that the activities I suggest are all incredibly useful learning tools for children-but not formal sit down homework. So you can have fun with him while being able to relax about the homework, because he will be learning by stealth if you see what I mean! I think from your posts that you and your dh would find it far to stressful and worrying to just stop all "schooly" stuff at home- this way you get th beet of both worlds.

racingheart Sun 25-Nov-12 16:49:27

Trust me when I say none of us enjoy any part of the homework.

To me, this is a crucial statement.

He may be dyslexic. Sounds likely, but not definite. He could be a late starter. DS2 was a very late starter. Bottom of class age 6. Now top of the entire year in literacy.

I work with children who hate literacy. Not dyslexics - not qualified to do so. But I work with a lot of ADD/ADHD and some on autistic spectrum.

The key to it clicking if he isn't dyslexic, is to show him it's fun. What i'd do, if he were one of my pupils, is stop all homework for two weeks, so the air is cleared and pressure is off. Then play some fun games that involve writing. e.g. Paint a cupboard with blackboard paint and chalk messages to him on them.
Write him a note in invisible ink (milk, lemon juice, white wax crayon or WH Smith spy pen sets). Get him to discover the message (iron the paper, or paint over the wax, or use the other spy pen to colour in.) Make the message an easy clue to where a treat for him is hidden.
Write notes to Santa and stick them up the chimney. Get him to read them aloud if they are illegible to you.

Give comics and books as treats. Let him choose them. Even Where's Wally has some text.

Give loads of praise. Ditch anything that turns writing into a chore.

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