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DS having trouble in school...any ideas to help?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

DS (age 5) is in Kindergarten - this is second year of school and he had a pretty good junior Kindergarten year last year.  He has the same teacher this year again for his senior kindergarten year.  He has not undergone any testing yet but we are pretty certain that he is gifted.  He loves going to school and we have not had any issues with him not wanting to go but he has come home very frustrated on occasion lately and telling me that he is "never going back"...that being said, he will wake up the next day happy and eager to go again.  Last week his teacher asked me to remain after school to talk to me and let me know that she is really having a hard time with him this year.  Her issues were that he isn't following directions well, isn't participating with the group well (e.g. when she asks questions that she KNOWS he knows the answer to he doesn't even put up his hand), he is acting like a "class clown" (e.g. when the class was learning numbers and counting 1-10 my DS was saying the wrong numbers in a loud silly voice to make others laugh), he is not focusing well and has trouble sitting still, he has one toy that he likes to play with every day and he does not tidy up after playing (but I suppose this goes along with "not following directions").

 

I spoke with his teacher for a long time and tried to give her some suggestions that work well for me because my son is STUBBORN and when he has an idea in his head of what he would like to do it can be hard to get him to do something else.  I told her that if she explains rationale of activities/expectations with him that he is more likely to follow the request, however she told me that it is not "normal" that a child would ever need to know the rationale or "why" of a request...that they should just do what they are told.  Actually she found it odd that my son asks her "why?" when she tells him to do something.  Welcome to my world!!!  LOL

 

I understand school is all about conformity - but that certainly does not fit well with my son.  I suggested that he may be bored and this is why he is acting silly and being a class clown...I mean, he has known how to count to ten since he was 17 months old.  He learned his alphabet at 16 months and is currently reading at a Grade 2/3 level...so I can see how learning to count 1-10 and learning the letter "a" is boring to him.  I asked her if she could possibly give him some more challenging work to do but she did not feel that is a good idea.  His teacher said that she understood he may know these things but that he needs to learn to participate with the group and follow directions - skills he has not learned well yet.  I completely understand her reasoning and also agree that in order to do well in school (and life) he does need to learn this...but how can we achieve this if he is bored and not paying attention?

 

As for all the other difficulties his teacher noted - I'm not sure why he is acting that way.  Any ideas?  Any advice on how best to work on this at home or strategies to try??  I know many of you have likely been through similar situations and have a wealth of experience in this area!!  His teacher did suggest that possibly a developmental assessment may be warranted later in the year...she told me that she knows there is something going on with him, but just doesn't know what it is.  I know that gifted traits can be similar to traits of ADHD and Aspergers (both were brought up by the teacher as potential things to test for) but I spoke with my doctor last year about this and she did not feel there were enough red flags to warrant testing at this time.  Thanks for your help!

post #2 of 8

I feel for your little guy. Why should other children have the opportunity to learn to pay attention and follow direction with activities that are interesting and engaging to them, while he has to earn meaningful and engaging work by demonstrating compliancy with activities that hold no interest for him? 

 

Honestly I would go back to the teacher and ask that question. I would point out (if it's true) that you've discovered that engaging him intellectually is one excellent strategy getting him past his stubbornness and silliness. I would state clearly that you asked his doctor about testing for ADHD and Aspergers and were told she doesn't see red flags to warrant testing. I would make the point that his behaviour was less problematic last year because so much about the classroom was new and therefore more engaging. Now, with essentially the same environment for a second year but no addition of academic challenge, things are falling apart. If you feel you've hit a brick wall with the teacher, ask for a meeting with the teacher and the principal. Ask for differentiation, enrichment, acceleration, whatever you think they could offer. He deserves what the other children are getting: an appropriate education, without having to earn it through good behaviour first.

 

Good luck!

Miranda

post #3 of 8

I would push for the assessment now. Did she give a reason to wait? IMO that sounds like asking for more problems. Get the assessment done, find out more about what is going on and make a plan now to address the issues.

 

Why is a perfectly typical and wonderful question for a child and/or an adult to ask. I think the teacher is off base. I agree with Miranda's suggestions.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks moominmamma - I never thought about the fact of it being essentially a repeat of last year (beyond the obvious repeat of curriculum)...but you are so right!  Last year was a whole new experience.  DS was home with me until the start of school so every aspect of school was new and interesting.  The fact that this year is not bringing anything new has to be a contributing part of the problem, in my opinion.  I did tell his teacher that I had addressed my concerns with our family doctor, who had suggested that an assessment was not warranted and this did seem to satisfy her.  His teacher told me that she was going to "keep an eye on things" and we could review things in about 6 months to see how he is progressing.  That being said I am going to request a meeting with her next week so we can talk more specifically about strategies and I am going to suggest again that she try engaging him intellectually in the classroom.

 

quirkylayne - My doctor did not feel an assessment was appropriate because my DS was not showing any strong "red flags" for ADHD or Asperger's or other diagnoses.  He certainly does demonstrate some traits but at his young age my doctor felt that he was too young to determine a clear diagnosis.  My doctor was particularly concerned that an early assessment could lead to a misdiagnosis since so many traits of giftedness, ADHD and Asperger's are shared and difficult to tease out.  I agreed and honestly, still do because I feel like he is learning and developing well.  That being said we have a review appointment scheduled for February to check in and see how he is managing at school.  If things do worsen I will schedule an appointment sooner than that.  His teacher agreed that although social skills are not a huge strength - he IS developing and making gains which makes me feel good about the decision. When it comes to the curriculum...well he had met all the curriculum expectations for the academics for entrance into Grade 1 last year...so I guess that is just not something his teacher is focused on and is instead focusing on having him meet the expectations for following directions, participation and social skills.

post #5 of 8

Sorry, my word choice in my post wasn't clear. I think the school developmental assessment is something you should go ahead with, not necessarily an evaluation to see if your child fits the criteria for a diagnosis. I think a school assessment may help you move forward and get some accommodation in the classroom. 

 

When my ds was having trouble with some social skills I spoke with the counselor and he was invited to join a 'club' once a week with other kids working on particular things. It was pull out for 30 mins as week I think? It helped my ds and he felt special getting to go to a fun club!

post #6 of 8

As a teacher, this thread is so disappointing, but it's also very common. 

 

All students should have an opportunity to learn in all subject areas. It doesn't matter if a child's social and direction following skills are somewhat behind; they should still be learning math. In fact I would argue that they have a need to progress in math, as well as other subject areas. Differentiation is difficult, but it is the teacher's job to meet the needs of his/her students. Honestly, differentiation is much easier in the K classroom than it is in subsequent grades (I work with kindergartners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders on a daily basis.)

 

My son is only 3, but he has some similarities in the early milestones you listed. I've been worried about encountering a similar scenario once we begin regular schooling, so I've been trying to read up on the topic. Others might have better book suggestions, but one that has really helped me is Parenting Gifted Kids by James Delisle. He has worked in the education field for many years (both as a teacher and an administrator) and the book is filled with good advice for handling school-related problems. The book also has great insights into aspects of everyday life. It answered a lot of questions for me, even ones I didn't know to ask. I don't agree with Delisle on everything, but overall it was a quick read that gave me a lot of good strategies both for now, and for the future.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

quirkylane - Hmmm...so maybe a stupid question but is a school developmental assessment initiated by his teacher different from a pediatric assessment initiated by my doctor (which would involve testing to rule out or diagnose any exceptionalities)??  From what you wrote it sounds like a developmental assessment (which is what his teacher said may be warranted if things continue this way in the second half of the school year) is something on the school level that would look for ways to support him and/or his teacher in the classroom and wouldn't necessarily end up in a "diagnosis"?  I'm just not keen on going through testing at such an early age - particularly because he is a very anxious child and a perfectionist....I'm worried an assessment would just cause him unnecessary stress and anxiety.

 

KathrynH - thanks.  I am feeling a bit frustrated with his teacher right now...but I'm also understanding of the fact that school just started a month ago and she is still struggling with getting the younger junior kindergarten students into routines and is probably feeling extra frustrated with my DS since he isn't making her life any easier right now.  The idea of trying to differentiate her program for him isn't likely on her wish list right now but you are right....as a teacher it is her job!  I'm going to give it another few weeks and then I'm going to address the issue again with her.  DS has been coming home from school every day for a week now telling me that his stomach hurts.  So obviously things are impacting him quite a bit now :(

post #8 of 8

I am a retired teacher of young children, aged 6 to 8, and had a special interest in gifted children as a parent, grandparent  and  teacher. I feel for you in this situation. It is hard at the start of the school year, especially with young children. The focus is on making the group work well rather than looking at individual needs. I expect the teacher is feeling overwhelmed  and is unable to provide for your child. However, as she knows your child, she should have been better prepared.  It could be that by now she is better organised now. Also it is a fact, based on research, that all children learn better when they are told what they are working towards and why. It empowers them and helps them understand where they are heading. If your son knows the numbers already, he is heading nowhere!

 

An assessment would help. It would tell you his strengths and any weaknesses.  My daughter was tested at school at the teacher's request at five years after overwhelming frustration on her part. She was  found to be 4 years ahead of her Year One class! The testing was not a magic fix but it did help. I wish I had known  then all that I know now.

 

You could try offering the teacher more suitable activities for number work that he could do independently. Work based on number skips, join the dots in twos for instance. Finding different ways to make ten using cubes of two colours, e.g. two red and eight blue, five red and five blue. I do not know how old your boy is. I would guess about five. You will have to do some research. You might look at Enrich-E-Matics by Anne/Ann Joshua , a series of problem solving maths books that work alongside the regular maths program for gifted children. If your boy is not ready for them yet, he soon will be.

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