DS just turned four last month. He is now finishing his first year of a 5-day, half-day program at a wonderful montessori school. It's the real deal, AMI accredited with an extremely dedicated staff.
We visited last weekend - the kids hosted a family day to show parents what they have been working on. Academically I am not concerned about DS - his teachers have confirmed that he's been making good, steady progress in his work. And he is.
But I noticed last weekend (& also when I visited alone) that he can't work without being distracted. I know my presence itself is distracting but it wasn't me he was distracted by - it was the other kids. He just doesn't seem able to ever tune them out.
The other weird thing - as much as he is obsessed with what other children are up to, he won't look them in the eye or address any of them by name when they say hello to him. I know eye contact is something the teachers work on & DS never looks anyone in the eye, not even in the mornings when I drop him off (it's how he is at home too).
I also notice his behavior at home has steadily gotten worse over the course of the year. He used to help in the kitchen but almost never does now. He really does not listen well at all & it's getting harder & harder to get him to cooperate with just about anything.
Is this normal or a sign of a bad fit? I thought he'd have made better progress by now but maybe my expectations are too high.
Edited to add that DS has also been transitioning out of his nap over the last two months & has been a super poor sleeper as a result. And he's also had a rough couple of months health-wise. Got two vaccines but then caught strep. Twice. Ugh! So I don't know if I'm being ultra sensitive to all this as a result of worrying about other things with his health. Also, three was a challenging year for him... Maybe I was just hoping something magical would happen at four (as all my friends with similar three year olds had told me).
Mama to my little busy bee.
Gosh mama...I don't know. I wonder if you posted in parenting too if you will get some advice. Does anyone have any ideas for this mama??
Well I'll add my 2 cents :)
I think most 4 year olds are easily distracted, based on my own experiences and observations. I personally would not be alarmed at that at all, or have any expectations otherwise.
As for the lack of eye contact or reciprocating hellos and greetings- I think this too can be normal to a certain extent. I see gradients of this every morning when I drop my boys off at school- some children run up and say hello, some hide behind their parents, some are quiet and do not respond to other children, etc. I think all of these can be 'normal' behaviors for 4, 5, and even 6 year olds.
What do his teachers say? Have they voiced any concerns?
It's possible that he's over stimulated at school, which can affect his behavior at home. It's also just as likely (or probably more likely) that he is just going through a phase. Kids behaviors and mannerisms at home and at school always seem to be fluctuating. Was he in school last year? It could be that school simply makes him tired and that is why he doesn't seek out the same activities (helping in the kitchen, etc) as he did before? Could also account for his misbehavior.
5 days a week, half-days is more than my 5 year old could handle at this point. He goes 3 days a week, half-days and by Friday he is wore out and ready to be home. (Just as a point of reference for you).
I really think you need to talk to his teachers. They have seen the whole spectrum of child behaviors, and would know what is normal and what is cause for concern. My guess is that if you haven't heard anything from them as of yet, then they aren't concerned. :)
I need to talk to his teachers. I haven't yet because his main teacher just returned from maternity leave last week. I'll try to get in touch with her next week. But she has never voiced any concerns, not during any of our many conversations. So I think you're probably right, FortuneTeller, that they're not seeing any problems.
Edited to add (since my phone accidentally submitted before I was done...):
I think it also may be end of the year fatigue. This is his first year of school. Last year he did a one-day per week parent child class. So, yeah, this is a lot of school for him (one of the trade-offs, since his school doesn't offer anything less). We've got lots of unstructured time planned this summer!
Mama to my little busy bee.
Those two symptoms (distractability and eye contact) can be symptoms of ADHD. As an adult with ADHD (non-hyperactive type) I have a terrible time concentrating with background noise. For example, my kids are watching a movie right now in the background and I have to put a lot more effort into writing a coherent post that I would normally (and I keep making typos, arg!)
I also have a really hard time looking at people directly in the eye during conversations. Its easier when I am listening, rather than speaking, but I have to think about it. When I am trying to express my own thoughts, looking at peoples faces is ironically distracting. You think it would help me concentrate on the conversation, but it doesn't. My brain just doesn't work that way!
I have one son with diagnosed ADHD (he also has Aspergers) who has never made really great eye contact, and most people probably associate that with his Aspergers or Autism Spectrum. But it is a very common trait in kids and adults with ADHD as well and my 12 year old (who does not have Aspergers) has this trait as do I, as did my dad, as does my 4 yr old who I really think may be mild ADHD. We are just starting to have the "is something going on" conversation about him since he's become pretty hard to parent the last year. We'll see how preschool goes this fall!
But assume your son does have some mild ADHD going on...does that mean Montessori is wrong for him? On the contrary! I think its the best education system for kids with ADHD. Its structured, its ordered, and it focuses on teaching those skills to the kids. I promise you that regular programs and even play-based education can be extremely over-stimulating and even more distractable for a child with any attention issues. I am thrilled that there is a Montessori charter here for my 4yo DS and his younger siblings.
And I would say just keep these things in mind. Don't freak. Mild issues at home or school are not a big deal at this age and can definitely be just related to temperament or immaturity, but I like to say if by 6 your child is still very different from his peers in his ability to sustain attention to tasks, look into an evaluation and do it sooner if life is getting really hard at school or home. Best wishes!
ETA a couple links. This one is a discussion of eye contact and ADHD http://connect.additudemag.com/groups/topic/ADHD_and_EYE_CONTACT/
And this is a thread on this forum that you might find helpful!
Mom to DS(17) DS(15) DS(12) My gifted, quirky, wonderful teens!
Mama to Jack 11.08 and Liam 9.11 and due with boy #6!
Blissfully married to the love of my life since 8.8.8
I have a very well behaved, soon to be five year old and the last 8 months or so have been very challenging most days. Just before she turned four she got strep, ended up with mono and it really made for a long school year. I know the five days is a lot and tiring but it is a big part of the Montessori foundation for consistency. I work a lot with my daughter on manners (eye contact, responding when someone speaks to you) and I know that they do at school as well. She does call her friends by name though. Have you tried having play dates so he gets more comfortable with his peers?
I also noticed a falling off in her willingness to help which has always been a given. We just have to work a little bit harder at it now. Sometimes I lay down the law but other times I notice being more casual and fun about it gets me a lot further.
This has just been my experience but wanted to share in the even you find it helpful.