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Pre-K & The Busy Body

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

I also posted this under 'Toddlers'

 

 

I had an interesting convo with my son's pre-k teacher this morning. 

 

He recently turned 4 (less than 3 weeks ago) and she mentioned that he is having a hard time following directions and sitting still for longer than 20 (which is what he should be able to do). He doesn't want to do the activities and he is very vocal about not wanting to do something - which is a total shift in his personality. 

 

Additionally, she said that he is on overdrive from the time he gets in the classroom until naptime when he just crashes. 

 

I know preschool is a huge transitional period for any child and with him being a "new 4", I try not to stress too much because there are certain things he will just get better at as he ages (i.e., listening to the teacher). But now she's saying that if the situation continues on for an extended periods of time, then the state will have to get involved and assess. I don't want to jump to the conclusion of someone saying my son may have a "problem"; I just sum it up to him being 4. Besides there are 14 boys in his classroom and he isn't the only one having to adjust to this.

 

Has anyone else encountered this problem? Any tips or recommendations on what I can do with him to improve this?

post #2 of 39

Your thread title confuses me - why do you consider your son's teacher discussing what she has observed makes her a busy-body?

 

I think it's perfectly legitimate for her to explain what she's observing, where there may be an issue, and what possible results may be.

post #3 of 39

I interpreted the title to refer to the 4 y.o as having a "busy body", i.e. he is an active child who doesn't sit still for longer than 20 ____  (see below - not sure if it's seconds or minutes or what), not that the teacher is an interfering "busybody". 

 

 

OP, I agree it's typical for 4 y.o's (not just boys) to be active and to take time to adjust to new situations like pre-K. I am wondering what time unit the teacher is using for the "doesn't sit still for longer than 20____". Is that her counting to 20 (some teachers will tell the students "I'm going to count to 20 and at the end, everyone should be sitting quietly, eyes on me and listening for my instructions". It's a way of quietly getting the entire class in control and paying attention. 

 

Or is it an observation that he won't sit still for 20 seconds or 20 minutes or some other "20"? 

 

If it's the former, then I think most 4 y.o's can manage to sit and follow along as the teacher counts to 20. If he can't do that, then I think it's appropriate that she share her concerns with you so you can work with him. You can try some role playing with him at home. 

 

If it's the latter, and she's noticing that he likes to move around more than sitting still, then there are different aspects I'd discuss with her. If he's new to the classroom (did he just start pre-K recently?), he may just be a little excited and wanting to explore and try everything. I'd ask how much it's interfering with his participation in the class and whether he's being inappropriate and distracting his classmates. 

 

Is this an "academic" pre-K with a lot of expectations about deskwork or is it a play-type pre-K? If there is an emphasis on deskwork, it may not be the best setting for him. He may adjust more quickly in a pre-K with a lot of play activities. 

post #4 of 39
Thread Starter 

I did not imply that his teacher was a busy body; I was talking about him. my son is like any other 4 yr old that loves to play, run and just be free. 

 

The teacher's time frame is 20 minutes. Certain activities they do in the various centers/stations, they are to do in 20 minute increments. This particular Pre-K program is learning through play so there is a fair amount of play going on to learn but when its time for things like Circle Time (i.e, reading a book and singing songs) he's rather go do his own thing. 

 

My concern stems from this not being an issue in his 3 year old classroom. I understand that's a new 4 and I certainly don't expect him to a be perfect (of course not) but I do want to make sure that I am teaching him that is important to listen to the teacher and follow her instructions when its time to settle down. 

 

My plan is to spend a day or an hour at school assessing him in various settings to see if something is a distraction to him. It's a new classroom with tons of new things to explore and see. I'm sure he's just overwhelmed and excited. School has only been in session for two weeks and I appreciate her bringing it to my attention. I just want to make sure it doesn't evolve into a bigger issue. 

post #5 of 39

Okay, a few more questions/suggestions....

 

The activity centres/stations -

 

Are these activities that he is interested in and he enjoys? If yes, then it may be a problem of choice - he wants to do them all and he's easily distracted from one to another. He may need a little more guidance in choosing one and some assurance that he will get a fair chance to work at another at some other time. If there are some activities that he doesn't like, then perhaps there's a way to accommodate his preferences a little more and that will keep him engaged for a little longer. 

 

Are the activities too easy or too difficult? If they are too easy, he may be bored and looking for more challenges. If they are too hard, he may need some some encouragement or assistance so he doesn't get discouraged and distracted. The teacher should have some insight into how he is coping with the tasks and some ideas on how to adjust the activities if they aren't at his current level of ability.

 

2 weeks is still very early. Adjusting to a new classroom can take a little time. It seems really premature to mention state intervention and assessment, but I wonder if it's a consequence of referral deadlines and timetables. In some places with cutbacks in resources and long waiting lists, there may be a strategy of referring early in order to avoid missing out completely and being forced to wait a year or more for an assessment.

post #6 of 39
Thread Starter 
Those are great suggestions and reccomendations. I didnt consider that he may be bored. Hes very advanced for his age so he need to move on to other things. She has been teaching prek for years and is highly recommended other teacher
post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKA_PI View Post

I also posted this under 'Toddlers'

 

 

I had an interesting convo with my son's pre-k teacher this morning. 

 

He recently turned 4 (less than 3 weeks ago) and she mentioned that he is having a hard time following directions and sitting still for longer than 20 (which is what he should be able to do). He doesn't want to do the activities and he is very vocal about not wanting to do something - which is a total shift in his personality. 

 

Additionally, she said that he is on overdrive from the time he gets in the classroom until naptime when he just crashes. 

 

I know preschool is a huge transitional period for any child and with him being a "new 4", I try not to stress too much because there are certain things he will just get better at as he ages (i.e., listening to the teacher). But now she's saying that if the situation continues on for an extended periods of time, then the state will have to get involved and assess. I don't want to jump to the conclusion of someone saying my son may have a "problem"; I just sum it up to him being 4. Besides there are 14 boys in his classroom and he isn't the only one having to adjust to this.

 

Has anyone else encountered this problem? Any tips or recommendations on what I can do with him to improve this?

There are a few things:

 

1.Yes, at 4 attention should be able to go to 15-20 min per activities (say storytime or group activity). That is the year before Kindergarten and most teachers are trying to prep kids for K- where attention will be needed to focus for 30 min at a time in most settings.

But, it is a new year, he is a young 4, etc. You still have 9 months to get to the end of the year and a lot of growth can occur between now and then!

 

2. Is preschool new to him? If so, it may be really stimulating (the overdrive comment) and/or overwhelming. Also is he getting enough sleep? Often kiddos needs more sleep as they adjust to school-- they get 'wired and hyper' instead of sleepy when in fact, they need more rest. Or he could be overwhelmed sensory-wise to the new setting and that can seriously affect attention, compliance, etc.

 

3. Is his behavior out of control? It seems unusual for her to mention an evaluation/state involvement this early unless she sees a glaring issue. Though, Evaluation through the state/county/school programs would be helpful if there is a concern.

 

4.You mention a shift in personality and non-compliance. I would maybe ask to observe the classroom and see what they dynamics are. Your son could be non-compliant for many reasons and it is important to know WHY , especially since you state it is a personality change.

 

5. Are the tasks they are asking him to do too hard/too easy? That can lead to dramatic behavior shifts in kids as well.

 

 

I taught preschool and will say that it is still early days in the school year. I would suggest trying to work with the teachers and also finding out the routine/schedule/classroom management style they use. Something may be clashing with your sons personality. What happens when he doesnt cooperate? What does he not want to do (activitywise?).  Organizing that all out may help. Then I would do some social 'play-acting' with him and practice whatever the issue is ( you be the teacher and ask him to do things, have him pretend to get inline, pretend to sit during story, etc or the scenarios the teacher is saying he is struggling with). Sometimes reviewing the positives and practicing the behaviors helps.

 

How may kids are in his class? How many adults?  How much physical activity do the kids get? (they should get a lot!)


Edited by KCMichigan - 8/22/12 at 5:02pm
post #8 of 39

Oops - sorry for misinterpreting the use of "busy body"!

post #9 of 39
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your insight and information. I really appreciate that. 

 

His classroom total is 24 kids and 2 teachers. They have outdoor play about 3 times a day and work indoors in things in 20 minute increments.

 

I really think the root of the issues are the fact that he just recently turned 4 and things have gone from a little less structured to structured. Not to mention he is having to learn 2 new teachers with very different personalities from his previous teacher. I'm going to keep watching and stay on top of this. 

post #10 of 39
Thread Starter 

UPDATE!!!!

 

I spoke with my son's teacher about midday yesterday and learned that he had yet another rough day. Lots of not paying attention and running around. I could tell she was a little annoyed even though she didn't want to say it. As a Pre-K teacher, I'm sure she has seen this and I'm curious to know what she's implemented before with other children to rectify it. Nonetheless, I told her that I will be visiting the class today, first watching him from the monitor to see what he is doing during different times of the day (particularly circle time) and then sitting in the classroom if need be to work with him. 

 

I keep reminding myself that he just turned 4 two weeks ago and there are some growing pains that he must go through. He is adjusting to new classmates, new rules and new things. I'm trying to be patient and understanding while we work this thing through. 

 

Last night we had several talks about why its important to listen to the teacher and do as your told. We even practiced circle time a few times to test it out. When I dropped him off this morning, I sat with him in class and we practiced circle time there and went over what we are supposed to do. I'm praying today is a little better but I certainly want to stay on top it before other things are introduced.

post #11 of 39

Good luck; I do hope that things improve.  Two things about this thread have really been keeping it at the back of my mind although I haven't responded yet.  One is the teacher and her obvious irritation and the second is her mention of the state potentially "needing" to get involved and assess.  The later really bugs me, honestly.  I am the parent of two girls who are much older than your son, but I remember volunteering in their classes in early elementary and how the young boys, even perfectly normal young boys, often were wiggly.  I imagine that it is more than that here, but I do wonder if the teacher has some unrealistic expectations regardless of her experience.  Secondly, as the parent of a child with inattentive type ADD (she's not hyperactive which makes it less noticeable to teachers), I have to say that the symptoms absolutely DO NOT only manifest themselves in a school setting.  In fact, that is one of the criteria for diagnosis: the symptoms HAVE TO be evident in multiple settings (school, home, extracurriculars, etc.).  

 

I tend to find it inappropriate for the teacher to suggest that there is something wrong with him this early in the year especially if this is the first time these types of concerns have come up.  I can certainly see her wanting to work with his parents to reign in difficult behaviors, but jumping from "we're having some problems and we need to work together to solve this" to "your son has something wrong and the state may need to assess him" is huge in my book.

post #12 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristaN View Post

Good luck; I do hope that things improve.  Two things about this thread have really been keeping it at the back of my mind although I haven't responded yet.  One is the teacher and her obvious irritation and the second is her mention of the state potentially "needing" to get involved and assess.  The later really bugs me, honestly.  I am the parent of two girls who are much older than your son, but I remember volunteering in their classes in early elementary and how the young boys, even perfectly normal young boys, often were wiggly.  I imagine that it is more than that here, but I do wonder if the teacher has some unrealistic expectations regardless of her experience.  Secondly, as the parent of a child with inattentive type ADD (she's not hyperactive which makes it less noticeable to teachers), I have to say that the symptoms absolutely DO NOT only manifest themselves in a school setting.  In fact, that is one of the criteria for diagnosis: the symptoms HAVE TO be evident in multiple settings (school, home, extracurriculars, etc.).  

 

I tend to find it inappropriate for the teacher to suggest that there is something wrong with him this early in the year especially if this is the first time these types of concerns have come up.  I can certainly see her wanting to work with his parents to reign in difficult behaviors, but jumping from "we're having some problems and we need to work together to solve this" to "your son has something wrong and the state may need to assess him" is huge in my book.

Thanks for the well wishes. 

 

I agree with your statements. I met with the teacher again today and expressed my concerns and some of the statements and she assured me (as well as the assistant director of the school) that this is normal for a 4 year old and that we will just give it time for him to get on the same page as other kids. It turns out the he is the youngest child in the class and that all others turned 4 last year! I agree that the expectations may have been unrealistic and she even admitted it as well. As I told her, we will just watch him and see how he does over the next few weeks.

 

I'm not going to stress it too much since I watched him today with my own eyes and saw a difference in the behavior that she described.

post #13 of 39
Thread Starter 

ANOTHER UPDATE!!!

 

I spent about two hours at the daycare center observing my son and I noticed a few things:

  • He did much better about staying on the carpet today during circle time. Although he didn't get up, he at least stayed on the carpet which was good!
  • He was noticably fidgety after 10 minutes of sitting in circle time. Additionally, it seems that was the case for most of the other kids as well. They were all antsy and two or three were getting up but my son stayed.
  • He kept making action character sounds (i.e., Ironman missiles) but it wasn't too bad. 
  • He does well in smaller groups. No moving around and very focused.
  • He's very hands on. He likes to do things and learns by actually doing it. 

 

The teacher says that there was a slight improvement today; he definitely stayed on the carpet. She's ok with some fidgeting but wants to work on him being a little more focused when she's reading a book or going over the lesson for the day. She is in agreement with me that he is a young 4 and that we will just continue to observe him and see how he does. Everyone including the asst director thinks that he should be fine in a month or so, after he's really been in class for while.

 

I feel a little more at ease and will continue to stay abreast of the situation.

post #14 of 39

That sounds promising. Hope you will update again in a few weeks or a month or so. Best wishes for an easy adjustment to pre-K. 

post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKA_PI View Post

  • He was noticably fidgety after 10 minutes of sitting in circle time. Additionally, it seems that was the case for most of the other kids as well. They were all antsy and two or three were getting up but my son stayed.

 

I'm glad that it's going better, but I'd tend to believe that, if most of the kids cannot sit still to listen to a book, for instance, for more than 10 minutes, then the circle time should not last longer than 10 minutes b/c it is developmentally inappropriate to expect them to sit still that long.

post #16 of 39

Generally, the school needs your permission to do a special education assessment (like Conners for ADHD). To figure out what they may and may not do I would go to your state department of education website and look for a document for parents with "procedural protections" in the title; Wrightslaw.com is a good website to get answers to these types of questions also.

 

My ds does have ADHD and trying to make him sit for circle/carpet time resulted in stimming and other behaviors. In first grade he still would not do it so the teacher gave him the option of sitting in a chair outside the circle or doing other things quietly in the classroom while still paying attention. Also, I'd be careful about putting too much stock in her 'years of experience'  or other parent's reviews as what she has been doing for years, or what other parents count as positives, may not be what you agree with/value or what is right for your child.

post #17 of 39

DS' second grade class -- 7 and 8 year olds, is working on sitting still for longer than 6 minutes at the moment.

 

In my faculty meeting today -- adults 30 to 70 -- people started fidgeting after 10 minutes, getting up for a cookie or another cup of coffee, doodling, or checking their phones.

 

Expecting a young 4 year old to attend to circle time for 20 minutes is setting him up to fail.

post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

 

Expecting a young 4 year old to attend to circle time for 20 minutes is setting him up to fail.

 

yeahthat.gif

As the parent of kids who have been able to attend and sit still for 20 minutes at a time at age 4, I totally agree with Geofizz. My kids could do that, and people commented all the time about how unusual they were, that's how much of an exception that ability is in a 4-year-old. In fact I know people muttered things behind my back about how placid and "flat" my kids were, how they didn't seem to have much spark, etc. etc.. (They weren't dense and boring kids, but that's how quietly attentive 4-year-olds seem to be viewed by some people.) Anyway, it is my kids who were weird, not AKA_PI's ds!

 

Miranda

post #19 of 39
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for your insight and encouragement. The teacher actually called me yesterday and wants his father, myself, her and the director of the center to meet to discuss my DS. I guess she still feels that he is not showing any progress in sitting still or paying attention to her for long periods of time. He still does great in small centers time (which is when they get to work a smaller group on an individual activity). We had a long discussion yesterday and the guy and I have concluded that we don't think her personality is meshing well with hers; we would like to transfer him to another classroom. 

 

I spent most of yesterday crying and upset because I felt as though she has already mentally labelled my DS and not accepted the fact that he is 4 and everyone else turned 5 last year. I'm not making excuses saying that he is a perfect child; that would be silly of me as a parent. But I do know what my son is capable of and in the 2.5 years he's been attending this daycare, we have never had any issues until he got into this classroom. I'm not going to discredit her success as a teacher but she just isn't the teacher for my son.

post #20 of 39

I'm sorry.  I hope that you are able to get him into a different classroom with a better teacher fit.  FWIW, I've had teachers who were off based on their assessments of my kids in the past as well and time bore that out.  I recall my oldest, who just recently turned 14, and her first parent-teacher conference in preschool.  She, like your ds, was the youngest in the classroom having just turned three (it was a three to four y/o preschool classroom).  The teacher informed me that the was behind academically b/c she couldn't write her own name from memory w/out looking at her cubby to copy down letters and that she was the only child in the classroom who didn't know how to spell her name.  She suggested that I hold her back from K the year after next b/c she was not going to be able to keep up.  I later found out that dd's class was full of a bunch of kids who were closer to four than three and who had names like Ann and Max.  Dd's name has eight letters none of which are double letters (like A-n-n).  Fast forward a few years (we didn't follow her advice to hold her out of K due to her "academic unreadiness") and her elementary school and the middle school she was slated to attend were advocating for her to skip a grade and enter middle school shortly before her 10th bd b/c she was too academically advanced for them to be able to accommodate her without extreme measures.

 

My point being that it is very hard to tell in a three or four year old if the behaviors you see indicate a permanent difference or just a developmental stage or being one of the youngest in class or being an energetic young boy or anything else.  I see nothing in what you've written about your ds that sounds pathological at face value.  Especially if this is the first time this has come up, I'd agree with you that a change of environment is a good first step much more so than working on changing your ds.

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