I'm browsing around the internet to find ideas how to help my son who is just turned 6 and is in Kindergarten.
I just want him to be happy and enjoy school, but instead his mood lately keeps going downhill. He's having problems at school because he's refusing to complete his work, especially coloring. He hates it! He says his brain is working really hard on getting it done, but his hand just can't do it. So he sits there and the teacher has to constantly warn him to finish his work. I volunteer in the classroom sometimes and I just see him sit there, his head down, trying to get through the day. He is a well behaved child who aimes to please, he's very social but has hard time sitting still at times. It breaks my heart to see my happy and excited little guy not wanting to go to school anymore and just trying his best to get through the day. His teacher is very sweet and tries to be helpful but says she needs him to complete the tasks she gives him and he just refuses to do them! She knows he's advanced but it's her first year teaching in elementary and she's still trying to figure out her way around the classroom.
My son has never been tested. I think he might be gifted and am at a loss how to keep him happy and excited at school. He's a constant mystery to me. He only had 2 words in his vocabulary when he was 20 months old, started letters and counting and recognizing numbers at 2, way before talking in sentences. He refused to sound out words or attempt to read up until he was almost 5. Then he decided to start reading, without ever sounding out words or instruction about phonetic blends. He started reading chapter books few months after that. By looking at books he chooses and doing some simple reading and comprehension tests he reads and comprehends comfortably about a 3rd grade level now. He picks up on math easily as well. Seems to comprehend some of 2nd grade math pretty easily. I don't work with him much, he's very independent and prefers to do things on his own. I just try to supply him whatever he's interested in.
How do I keep him happy at school? I don't want to push the teacher and tell her that he's advanced and needs more challenging work, I'm afraid she'll think that I'm just another mom who thinks her child is special. But I want him to be happy and see him suffering!
Hi there, not sure if this is even remotely an idea, but we just found out our DS has fine motor issues at age 5. It is all related to him having a Sensory Processing Disorder. He only has vestibular and bilateral issues, which make fine motor skills in particular writing, coloring, etc., more of a challenge.
Honestly, I just thought his handwriting seemed like that of a normal five year old. It took us going to a doc for other reasons for them to see he had fine motor delay and needed an OT eval. The results of the eval blew me away! He doesn't cross his midline, has vestibular issues, etc. ALL of these things can and will be worked on through weekly OT, which is thrilling but they told me that Kinder next year could've been very frustrating at the point when handwriting was getting more intense. The more I've read on it, the more I'm so thankful we found this out. The kids can just shut down, have low self-esteem, etc., b/c their brain is not sending the right signal to their hand/foot/etc. (whatever the issue might be) to make it work. It is completely neurological based.
Your son might not have ANY fine motor issues, but I did want to share with you what we just found out in case. I knew he had some sensory things but had no clue the bilateral/crossing midline issues were there! Felt like clueless mom. Now feel proactive b/c we're working on it! :-)
#1, I agree with the PP -- it's entirely possible that his fine motor skills are behind, even though he's otherwise advanced. It's not uncommon for bright kids to be asynchronous. How well does he write letters? You might ask his teacher how his fine motor skills seem compared to the other kids, and if they seem behind, ask if that's something the school can help with (occupational therapy) or find exercises to do at home.
#2, Don't be afraid to be That Parent. Seriously. Your child's teacher has way more awful parents to worry about, like the ones who believe their kids are little wonders who do no wrong, and the ones who beat their kids and send them to school with black eyes, and the ones who don't have a single book in their house. If you go to the teacher with some test results (have you done some sort of testing at home? or math worksheets? maybe your son has written a story on his own? etcetc), plus she already knows he's advanced, you're being proactive, NOT being a bother.
Let me tell you, by the way. I'm in teacher's college right now and from what I understand my program is pretty representative in that is teaches almost nothing about gifted children. In fact, the sample lesson plans inevitably accommodate "advanced learners" by putting the in cooperative groups so that they can help teach the other kids what they know. I shake my head every time I see it. I went to some length to arrange to do some of my pre-clinical in-school work with a gifted class, and my 3 or 4 1-hour observations and half-dozen conversations with the teacher far more educational than my formal learning. There's a good chance your brand-new teacher doesn't really have a good grasp on what she might do to accommodate your student and since nobody's pushing for her to do something, she probably doesn't feel a need to do so.
That said, I also have a kindergartener and I've been volunteering at the school enough to know that the range of abilities in the kindergarten class is crazy. The class has 3 reasonably advanced readers on one end, and kids who came in not knowing more than a handful of letters on the other end. Same story in math. My daughter's teacher has like 15 years' experience and she's still not going a great job of accommodating even though she flat-out told me in conferences in the fall that my daughter was definitely the most advanced kindergartener in her two classes and well beyond most of the material. (Though in her defense it doesn't help that my daughter gets several therapies weekly so she's also out of the classroom quite a bit.) What I would LIKE is for her to do independent reading instead of the seatwork they do around learning letters (worksheets), with some individual instruction in reading comprehension strategies; and independent computer-based math instead of math lessons (so far the class is recognizing numbers and counting up to 9). She also needs some in-school instruction (she'll listen to her teacher better than her mom) around number regrouping.
Thank you for your thoughts!
I don't think fine motor skills are an issue for him. The teacher said that his fine and gross motor skills are good compared to some other kindergarteners. He was writing impressive cursive in pre-school and his print is very nice as well, BUT he often refuses to write and almost always avoids/refuses drawing and coloring. He doesn't think what he does is good enough and has said that in his mind it looks very different and when he can't do it the way he imagines it, he just scribbles all over it and refuses to try again. The same with writing. He likes writing only when he's 100% sure of the spelling. If he thinks he made a mistake or is not absolutely sure how to write, he shuts down and refuses to even try.
My sons class also has 3 advanced kids and a few who are still working on their letters. Of course the teachers priority are the kids who need to be brought up to the level and make sure they are ready for 1st grade. The teacher has also said she doesn't feel comfortable letting him skip certain tasks. I think since she is new, she wants to make sure everybody has done everything in the curriculum and lesson plans, rather than approaching some students with common sense. She says she needs to make absolutely sure that he has all necessary skills to be successful in 1st grade. Academics is not a problem, but completing work, physically sitting still and keeping emotions under control at times is. She does differentiate some reading for the 3 advanced kids, but while it might be more challenging for the other two, it's still way below what my son needs. She has told me that before the previous report card she did some reading tests with him and they stopped at 3rd grade level, she didn't have time to go on. Math wise they are working on number 17 and counting to 17. My son can recognice all numbers well into 10 000's and knows many 2nd and even 3rd grade math concepts (he has an older sister and has picked up on some).
Just read up little bit about SPD. My older daughter definitely has issues with that. She has always been extremely sensitive to clothing and smells. Tags are an absolute no-no, very hard to find clothes that she's able to wear, super soft materials only, no seams on socks and only knee socks, shoes have to be slightly larger and very flexible etc.
Now my son is not as picky about clothing, but has other sensorial issues. He absolutely needs to touch pretty much everything. He loves the sensation of the way different materials feel. Has to touch everything everywhere, can't keep his hands still and is constantly feeling things. Another problem at school! Physical contact is an absolute must for him. It seems almost like he can't function unless I hug him, he can spend hours sitting with me while I stroke his hair or touch his back. He's also pretty sensitive to noise and extremely sensitive to the temperature of food and drinks. Not sure if all this would be considered SPD.
Here's the deal on SPD regarding my DS since this is so new to me (basically found out last week). I had NO idea he had that. In fact I had read about it several times and ruled it out (since I'm a doc and all--joke!). ;-) I knew he'd had some sensory issues with mouthing everything and hair pulling as a toddler, but didn't know it was this. What he has as a subtype was nothing I ever understood! Thanks
His issues are vestibular (totally new thing for me to learn about), preprocipatal (I can't remember correct spelling) and bilateral. I had no clue what any of these meant a week ago. My son is very quirky smart, and we had questions with this one behavior he's possessed for the last year: running back and forth every once in awhile, starting with a little hop and hand flapping. Sounds totally spectrum-like, so combined with his little mind that blows us away daily we got a bit concerned. No teachers have ever had a concern with him, just us the parents. All that to say, through a few docs I'm so glad we got him evaluated and checked out b/c we found the sensory issues! I just think SPD has a very broad umbrella of symptoms. No two kids who have it look just alike. My friend's DD has it and she is very different from my son. Another lady I know has a DS with it, and his overstimulation issues come out in aggression. ANother thing my son does not do. My son, however, has odd sensory things (now that I know they're related) in his past too--in particular the hair pulling. He did stop that a couple of years ago, but we remained baffled by that one.
I think through OT therapy it will do nothing but help him. So, back to your son, regardless of the outcome, being proactive could do nothing but help him or help soothe your mind. He might not have any Sensory issues, but it's so good to get therapy in the case he does.