That sounds sad for everyone. Some children can have a tough time adjusting to the 1st grade classroom but I also wonder if there isn't more going on and he can't explain what is bothering him.
I'd start with asking for a meeting with his teacher to let her know how stressful he is finding it and get her views on what she has noted. She'll just be getting to know him and his classmates, so she may not have much insight yet. Usually, it makes sense to wait a couple of weeks before meeting with the teacher, but in this case, it's a good idea to get everyone on the same "team" since there are already some concerns with how he is coping.
Is it possible for either you or his father to spend some time in the class - possibly as a volunteer - and observe how he interacts with everyone? That might give you some insight as well.
I would also try to arrange an after-school or weekend playdate with a classmate to help him start making some friends in the class. The teacher may give you some ideas on who to invite if your DS doesn't provide a name or two.
Is he finding the lack of play and the need to do deskwork "boring" or is the work itself too boring? Teachers tend to ease into the school year with a lot of review so he may find this work repetitive and uninteresting. On the other hand, the teacher may have miscalculated and hasn't found the right level of work for this class and the work is too difficult. That's something that should improve as the teacher and class get into stride.
Finally, I wouldn't withhold any treats, threaten or otherwise add any pressure to this already stressful time for him. He's probably coping the best way he can right now. He needs lots of support and some help to work through this adjustment period.
Good luck to you all.
1st grade can be a tough transition for some kids. There are a lot more (academic) expectations than K or pre-K. It's no longer so much play, but a lot more desk time.
I agree with olly that a conference with the teacher may be a good idea - you need to find out if "bored" means the work is too easy or too hard, and then figure out how to solve that problem.
One thing that struck me about your post... how your son kept telling you he'd "be good". Why does he feel that having a problem with school equates to *not* being good?
When one of my two stayed home "sick" (regardless whether they were actually sick or pretending to be for whatever reason - and yes, it happens), my rule was that it would be a quiet day. No running around or being boisterous, but quiet and calm activities were fine - reading, watching tv, playing video games, playing a board game together, etc. was okay.
I think time spent in the classroom volunteering is ideal, but agree with the others about meeting with the teacher. If it is primarily a social issue, playdates could help. Has he had playdates with his other friends that he was split up from? Maybe also talk to their parents and see how they are making the transition?
I would be cautious in revoking privileges and giving long lectures. I think that approach is a bit heavy-handed with a kid who is obviously under alot of stress and emotional upheaval already. As you stated, he doesn't really understand why you are taking his activities away (other than a vague notion that he needs to be "good"?) and he's too young for talks about society, the law and his future - those are pretty abstract boogeymen to a first grader.
It may be hard to discuss what is bothering him, or he may not be able to name it. Perhaps you could plan more one-on-one activities with him, that would give him time to feel secure, process his emotions and open up. I think his feelings need to be acknowledged and validated, even if they seem miniscule to you. Those reasons may be the tip of the iceberg, or they could loom large in his mind. Either way, nobody is going to fully open up if they don't trust they are being listened to, respected and heard.
I know you have to do what you can do to get through the day, but it sounds like you may be sending mixed messages that his feelings and reasons don't really matter, he just needs to suck it up and be "good," kwim?
eta: Could you go through his concerns and come up with a game plan for each? Ways to deal with bossy kids, etc.? Maybe that would help him feel more secure, to have tools in his toolbox. The "boring" issue will have to be discussed with the teacher, but you may be able to come up with ideas for the others. Good luck!
~ Lucky wife of DH and loving mama to DS (04/11) ~
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I agree with setting up a meeting with his teacher ASAP.
I also agree with taking his concerns seriously and helping him brain storm ideas or going to bat to help him out. I would not want to go anywhere that I wasn't allowed to go pee when I need to. That's really basic for me. I feel for you little guy. Like wise, with the bossy kid and the girl who was mean once, helping him find ways to deal with his peers *as reasonable* for his age and ability provides him an opportunity to grew, or letting the teacher know about the situation if it isn't something he can grow into pretty quickly.
On one hand, I think when kids learn to deal with stuff on their own, it helps them long term. At the same time, sometimes that just isn't possible and they need an adult to intervene. It had be hard to tell the difference. May be when you and your son meet with the teacher, she'll be able to talk to him about these situations and offer something useful for him.
One of my kids has anxiety problems, and for her, none of it is about being "good." When her anxiety is acting up, she is truly doing the best she can, and her responses to things are no more "bad" than a child with a cold is being bad when they cough. It just is what it is.
but everything has pros and cons