I've been wanting to write this post for over a week, but I've just been too overwhelmed by all my feelings about it that I didn't know if I could make my ramblings make sense. To start, DS turned 3 in December and attends a full time Montessori school in the 3-6 class. He started this class in August when he was 2.8. He's always enjoyed school, made friends easily, and never really had any discipline issues to speak of.
Around that time he decided he wanted to learn to read and would get frustrated looking at books by himself because he couldn't read the words. By November he was building simple words like log, fan, can, dog, etc. but he still lacked the fine motor skills to write the words that he could build with wooden letters. At that time the teacher asked him to sound out a few words just to see what would happen, and he did it! It was fun to see him learning what he wanted to learn, at his own pace.
Since then though, things have gone down hill. He's doing great building words, and reading words, but he HATES to write. He just simply still has the fine motor skills of a 3 year old boy, combined with a personality that has never been one for coloring, tracing, etc. At restaurants, the crayons and paper kids menus always go unused. He has no use for it. I'm ok with this. I know that he just turned 3 and he has plenty of time to develop his little hand and finger muscles to learn to write. His degreed, certified Montessori teacher on the other hand, is of the belief that because he CAN do it now, he should. She and DS go head to head, her demanding that he write, him resisting and getting himself in trouble.
I don't know what to do. I hate the idea of school work being such a battle at such a young age. My goal for him right now is for him to have fun, respect his work, respect his friends' work, be polite, build relationships, and develop a love for learning. If he wants to learn to read a 3, that's gravy. If he'd rather learn to read at 5, that would be ok too. I asked his teacher to back off on the writing for now, and see if he doesn't go back to it on his own in a few months, but she thinks that would be "giving in" and that he would just learn that if he whines about anything enough he can get out of it. I feel like there has to be a better way to develop his fine motor skills than this.
She said he has gone as far as to wet his pants when he's doing his writing work so he can get out of doing it (bc he has to go to the bathroom to change clothes, and he can make that take forever if he wants). This was a HUGE red flag for me, and very upsetting. She said she just doesn't have a consequence that will get through to him on this issue to get him to do it.
Last week was Spring Break, and I hoped that it might be enough break that he would go back slightly more enthusiastic this week. No such luck. I have given him access to a Writing Without Tears school readiness workbook at home, and he has requested to do 7 or 8 pages out of that in the last week, which is real progress IMO. I just want him to feel successful, and these pages are just a few lines with a crayon on each page. It allows him to quickly complete the work, and see his success easily.
99% of what he has attempted in his life has come fairly easy to him. He's very coordinated, physically strong, athletic, a good talker, and a quick learner. If he feels like he might not do something well, even if it's something he's done 1000 times before, he will say he can't and will try to get out of doing it. I know that when it comes to the writing he has to work hard and doesn't want to "fail" at it.
So how do I handle this? While this is a Montessori school (AMS school) I am open to any ideas, Montessori or otherwise, that might help us with this situation. I'm sick to death of him coming home and telling me he got in trouble at school because he didn't do his work. (There are more details but I've already written a book. The gist of it is that he messes around when he's stalling on his own work and ends up getting in to trouble.)
Prior to this we were very happy with the school and his class. He has some great friendships in his class. He has recently been giving DH trouble in the morning on the way to school, presumably because he doesn't want to go. He has no problems in the after school class where he gets to play legos and playdoh (etc) for about an hour until I get there to pick him up. I plan to talk to the director ASAP, but I'd love some more input from other parents on what they would do before I talk to her. I'm so sad that this is happening to DS at such a young age.