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Old 10-14-2011, 12:58 AM
 
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It sounds like your son is having difficulty adapting to a structured environment. At home he can go the bathroom when he wants, ask you for a drink of water any time of the day and get it. At school, he has to wait for snack or lunch time and has to ask permission to go to the bathroom. You cannot expect him to remember how to follow all of these new rules in only 2 or 3 months. You said he is an only child so his interactions wtih other children have been limited. Did he ever attend a library story time or some other group activity? Years ago, kindergarten was a child's first introduction to a structured environment, but today most children have either attended a head start program or some structured activities so that by the time they get into kindergarten, they are already socialized and acclimated to appropriate large group behavior.

Is your child's kindergarten a full day or half day program? Does his behavior get worse in school towards the end of the day? He may not be used to such a long day without much down time and could be tired. How many children are in the class? In addition, in school, your child is more easily distracted. While the teacher is giving a 2 step or 3 step set of directions, another child could be coughing, or there are sounds in hallway, or something else is going on that makes your child only hear the first part of the instruction and then lose his focus. This teacher may need more patience, but it is possible that if there are more than 18 children in the class, she cannot provide the additional attention that he needs to learn proper behavior. Your child might benefit from being in a smaller class.

A behavioral approach might work. The teacher needs to start with some small goals for a limited number of behavioral changes and then provide your child with some sort of reward if he "remembers." You can help by making sure the home environment has some sort of routine and that there is lots of consistency. It sounds like your child just needs to learn the appropriate behaviors for school and this may take time. Regarding the rough housing, make sure that Dad, for now, doesn't do a lot of rough physical play, until your son learns that is not the appropriate way to play with his friends in school. Also, your son equates the teacher as a substitute mommy in school so he treats her the way he would treat you with hugs and kisses. He is used to an informal home environment and probably is very confused that he is being told that he is doing things wrong. "When I want to show Mommy that I love her I give her a hug. I love my teacher so I give her a hug. Mommy likes my hugs. Why doesn't my teacher?" The teacher needs to be creative such as telling him to keep all of his hugs in a hug box and then at the end of the day give her a really big one before he goes home or she could substitute a high five or handshake for the hug. Whatever. There are ways to rectify this but it won't happen overnight.
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Old 10-14-2011, 05:15 AM
 
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Thanks everyone. Obviously I have never done this before so I am not sure if the teacher is being impatient with him or there is an actual problem. As I said he has no problems at home. He'll help me with house work, he'll clean up his room and can sit through an hour of reading/writing practice. She showed us his K assessment sheet which was done on September 21 and she was impressed with how much he knows. He is in half a day class with 17 children. I think I should ask to sit in class couple of days and see how he behaves. :I knew his lack of pre school education might be a problem but I thought he would have more than 8 weeks to adjust. I also know while he likes school, it also distresses him. One week before school started he began picking his nails and he still continues so I know he is stressed. Also, you can't register in school in my area unless the child had a physical so his vision and hearing is fine. I tried to explain to her if she gives a basic direction, he'll get that. But if she gives a 3 step direction, he will have a difficult time with language. Yes he did great in his ESL test but that was very close to what I taught him at home. Telling a story from a picture, letters, colors, shapes etc...I don't know I guess we'll see what will happen in a month or so.
I just don't want him get labeled certain way which seems to happen a lot nowadays and deal with it rest of his school life. I grew up in europe and we started at age 7. I was an excellent student and I know half of being a good student is liking school. If he starts hating school, it will effect his entire experience in school. We spoke to him last night and he was clueless. Got really upset and spent the evening sitting in a corner behind a sofa. I felt bad for him, he thinks he is doing good in school.
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Old 10-14-2011, 05:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ladyvictoria View Post
We just had our first teacher conference with my son's K teacher. Before the start of school, I was really worried that he has never been to pre-K and English is his second language. For the last two months, I thought he was doing great. I heard nothing from the school or his teacher. Tonight, his teacher told me my son doesn't listen or follow any directions unless he is told couple of times. He constantly demands her attention. Too friendly (too much hugging and touching) and sometimes rough with other kids. She said she will watch him for a month and if there is no improvement, she will write him up to some committee which will probably mark him as a problem child for the future. I explained he is an only child and never seen a school structure before so he is probably having a difficult time adjusting to this new environment. I am quite upset right now. I felt like a terrible parent with spoiled child. How do I get him to change his behavior? We spoke to him about it but I don't know how effective it is to talk to a 5 year old. Any suggestions? He loves school and I told him if he doesn't start behaving, he will have to stay home but I really don't know how get thru to him. He is well behaved at home when he is with me and will do as told most of the time. I don't know what to do. One good thing, she told us his school work is pretty good. I don't want him written up so it follows him up to higher grades. Anyone had to go through this? how did you handle it?
Firstly, you are right. The teacher certainly should have alerted you to these issues before so much time had passed.

However, I think the bigger issue is what is going on with your son. You mention that English is his second language. How are his English speaking and comprehension skills? It seems like the teacher may need to repeat what she is saying because it takes him some time to understand what she is saying. If that is the case you should remind the teacher that his English skills are still developing. In my state all new teachers are required to be ESOL endorsed so she should know how to handle a child who has some English comprehension issues.

As far as demanding her attention, what does he do? If he is acting inappropriately she needs to communicate with you what behaviors are inappropriate, and when they happen. Then you can work with him at home on improving them. If she does not communicate with you there is no way for you to know what is going on. It is perfectly acceptable for you to tell her that. You are not a mind reader, you do not know what happens in the classroom. She needs to tell you and she needs to be specific.

There will be no improvement in your son's behavior unless there is communication with the school. You may have to demand that communication. You may have to initiate the communication. Send her emails on a regular basis asking about his progress. If you do not get better communication go to the principal.

Secondly, do not feel like a failure. Work with your son.
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Old 10-14-2011, 07:03 AM
 
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Lack of communication is one issue why I am so upset. I am not an univolved parent. I have been in touch with them since April about my son. I was told there are few kids with no pre-k experience or English as second language and by the time K is done, he'll be fine. I also sent his teacher an e-mail right before the school started in September. We saw his teacher twice before this conference at various school functions and she said nothing. 8 weeks into school year I hear my son has behavioral problems. This reminds me of my first year in the US school. I was 15 when I came here and I had no English. I started school as a high school freshman. Two months into the school year, my guidance counselor called my father and told him I wasn't adjusting and perhaps we should see if I could go to another school with more students who speak my native language. My father was 'how is that going to help her learn English faster or adjust better?' He refused to move and I graduated 4th in my high school class. Due to this experience, I am hyper sensitive to this issue and did everything in my power to prepare him for school. Now, I found out I wasn't successful and teacher had no suggestions how I could change his behavior at school other than tell him to behave himsel which I am sure he will forget the moment he gets to the school bus and sees the other kids. So frustrated.
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Old 10-14-2011, 07:30 AM
 
15,294 posts, read 16,844,720 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyvictoria View Post
Thank you, those are great suggestions. I will buy the books and read them to him. That might work. He also does chores at home, perhaps, I should give him some more. As I wrote, he has no problems following or focusing on directions at home. I also explained to her, he loves her which he tells me every day and being an only child, I think he is trying to get her attention because he is used to getting that attention at home. I am upset, they seem to be making a federal case out of it. She said he is not disruptive or mean to other kids. He doesn't fight or hit or anything like that. I also suggested, while he knows the letters, numbers, etc...he may have a problem with complicated directions she gives. I don't know, I just need to stay on top of it.
If the directions have lots of steps and he is not used to that, I can see where that might be a problem. You can also try games that require following directions at home. There is a great book that is published by NAEYC called Follow Me, Too: A Handbook of movement activities for three to five year olds. It is geared for teachers in Preschool classrooms, but the games can easily be played at home. This would be fun if he has a playdate with another child or two from school. The activities are geared to help with listening, body awareness, focus,etc.

Amazon.com: Follow Me Too: A Handbook of Movement Activities for Three- To Five-Year-Olds (9780201815979): Marianne Torbert, Lynne B. Schneider: Books
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Old 10-14-2011, 07:43 AM
 
15,757 posts, read 13,180,165 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyvictoria View Post
Thanks everyone. Obviously I have never done this before so I am not sure if the teacher is being impatient with him or there is an actual problem. As I said he has no problems at home. He'll help me with house work, he'll clean up his room and can sit through an hour of reading/writing practice. She showed us his K assessment sheet which was done on September 21 and she was impressed with how much he knows. He is in half a day class with 17 children. I think I should ask to sit in class couple of days and see how he behaves. :I knew his lack of pre school education might be a problem but I thought he would have more than 8 weeks to adjust. I also know while he likes school, it also distresses him. One week before school started he began picking his nails and he still continues so I know he is stressed. Also, you can't register in school in my area unless the child had a physical so his vision and hearing is fine. I tried to explain to her if she gives a basic direction, he'll get that. But if she gives a 3 step direction, he will have a difficult time with language. Yes he did great in his ESL test but that was very close to what I taught him at home. Telling a story from a picture, letters, colors, shapes etc...I don't know I guess we'll see what will happen in a month or so.
I just don't want him get labeled certain way which seems to happen a lot nowadays and deal with it rest of his school life. I grew up in europe and we started at age 7. I was an excellent student and I know half of being a good student is liking school. If he starts hating school, it will effect his entire experience in school. We spoke to him last night and he was clueless. Got really upset and spent the evening sitting in a corner behind a sofa. I felt bad for him, he thinks he is doing good in school.
1. I think the teacher was perfectly fine in her timing. Many kids have a huge learning curve adjusting to school, especially as in this case they have never been before.

Asking a parent to step in that early can lead to reinforcement of negative behaviors which frequently resolve themselves in a month or so. When this did not happen for your son (she told you her concerns).

2. I am sure the ESL plays a part and it maybe just delaying his natural adjustment to school. You may want to ask them to give him more time due to the ESL issue.

3. I wouldn't worry terribly about the DK issue. At my school (one for gifted students) we frequently have kids "older" than their grade because they started late or did K twice. As a matter of fact, our senior with the highest gpa last year was 19 when he graduated because he had done kindergarten twice. If you son just needs time to mature or adjust this will afford him that time. Additionally, being in that sort of environment may make him enjoy school more while learning what is or is not acceptable.

4. The only thing that actually concerns me about what you have told us about his behavior is that after having his behavior discussed he spent the evening hiding behind a couch. Maybe you exaggerated? Otherwise I would be concerned with this and maybe speak to his pediatrician about it.
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Old 10-14-2011, 07:53 AM
 
613 posts, read 808,131 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyvictoria View Post
Lack of communication is one issue why I am so upset. I am not an univolved parent. I have been in touch with them since April about my son. I was told there are few kids with no pre-k experience or English as second language and by the time K is done, he'll be fine. I also sent his teacher an e-mail right before the school started in September. We saw his teacher twice before this conference at various school functions and she said nothing. 8 weeks into school year I hear my son has behavioral problems. This reminds me of my first year in the US school. I was 15 when I came here and I had no English. I started school as a high school freshman. Two months into the school year, my guidance counselor called my father and told him I wasn't adjusting and perhaps we should see if I could go to another school with more students who speak my native language. My father was 'how is that going to help her learn English faster or adjust better?' He refused to move and I graduated 4th in my high school class. Due to this experience, I am hyper sensitive to this issue and did everything in my power to prepare him for school. Now, I found out I wasn't successful and teacher had no suggestions how I could change his behavior at school other than tell him to behave himsel which I am sure he will forget the moment he gets to the school bus and sees the other kids. So frustrated.
I am frustrated for you!

First, communication by e-mail. You need to document. I hate to say this, but what your son's teacher is doing right now is documenting and creating a paper trail for when she refers him to whatever committee. This unfortunately means she has him in her sights and will be looking for any negative behavior to back up her claims.

So, you should write an e-mail to her. Try to stick to facts and keep emotion out of it (not easy to do, but easier through e-mail than verbally). I would start out with your surprise upon finding out at the P/T conference that she felt there was a behavioral problem as you were not informed of any problems beforehand, and therefore were not able to rectify a situation you knew nothing about.

Second, ask her to communicate with you what specific classroom rules your son is breaking ASAP, and what are the consequences when a child breaks the classroom rule. Ask what techniques/consequences she has employed to date to try and rectify the situation. State in your email the importance of consequences being as immediate as possible for a child so young, and that in order for you to do your job at home you need to be made aware of the specific behavior she is seeing ASAP.

Be sure to throw in that your son is doing well academically which suggests that whatever behaviors she is seeing is not effecting his learning and that you would like to focus on this positive aspect of his schooling. Ask her if she is noticing these behaviors during any lulls in the school day, for example when he finishes his work and is waiting for the next activity to start.

I would mention his language. Is it possible she wants to refer him to English as a Second Language versus Special Education. I would absolutely not go down the Special Education route at this time. Waaaay too soon to jump to such a conclusion, but I would try to get clarification on what help she plans on referring him for. If it is ESL, that may actually be helpful for your son.

Some red flags that I see:

Your son biting/picking his nails. I would be very concerned as this suggests your son is stressed about school. Yes, he probably does love school and his teacher, and at his age he is most likely doing his best to please the teacher. Unfortunately it sounds like his teacher is picking up on the negatives rather than the positives. That is why this is so upsetting to you, and rightfully so.

Now, if are going away from one P/T conference feeling as you do, imagine how your son is being made to feel on a daily basis. I will probably get flamed for this last statement, but teachers are only human and it is often difficult, no matter how hard they try, to keep their feelings hidden from a child. The child may not understand what he/she is feeling, but trust me, they pick up on it, which is why he is probably biting his nails.

I have first hand experience with what you are going through, both as a parent and as a teacher. I will never forget when I was teaching Computer Technology and this one little boy in K who had a teacher that just couldn't deal with him. He was VERY bright, LOVED school and so excited to learn. Every day was like a new adventure to him, but he had trouble controlling his excitement. Of course, he was only FIVE! Every week I saw him he had a huge smile on his face, and every week when his teacher brought the class in she had something negative to say about this little boy who had a love for life and learning.

Fast forward a few months, and she referred him for evaluation! This boy was not coming in with a smile on his face anymore and it was heartbreaking! I wish someone, ANYONE, other than his teacher would have asked my opinion, because I would have given it to them!

I also had similar P/T conferences with all 3 of my kids in the younger grades. I will admit that all three of my kids struggled with self control as young children, but so far I have one who went on to be in all honors classes and graduated college summa *** laude several years ago and is now a successful adult, another in middle school who is also in honors classes, and while the jury is still out on the third is so far having a very good year this year. In all 3 cases I was told there was a 'problem' and so far the problems rectified themselves as my kids got older and matured.

I'm telling you this, not to upset you, but to make you aware of how something so simple can spiral out of control. You need to turn it and the teacher around to focus on your son's positive strengths. I would absolutely insist on observing him in class. I would absolutely insist she communicate with you EXACTLY what behavior she is seeing and communicate with you as close to the behavior as possible. Insist she communicate with you exactly how she handled the behavior and if she did not see results, suggest another way she can handle it.

If she becomes defensive or continues to not communicate, I would give HER a month to turn it around, and if she doesn't, I would insist your son be put in another classroom.

Last edited by wsop; 10-14-2011 at 08:11 AM..
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:18 AM
 
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Wsop, you gave voice to my worst fears. That's what bothered me last night. Even when she was showing us his classwork, which was pretty good she didn't use any positive words to describe him or his work. I found that strange, I understand I am biased as his mother but my son is a very happy, social 5 year old and most of the time gets great reaction from adults. I will discuss your post with my husband and send her an e-mail asking for specific examples. I got suprised last night and didn't ask her what I should have. They won't put him in ESL, they already gave him an ESL test and he passed.
ikb0714, why do you see something wrong with his behavior last evening? I was an only child, I used to go sit in the closet when I was upset. He usually does that when he does something bad or he thinks we are mad at him for whatever reason. He was with adults all his life, he is very tuned to our emotions. He obviously knew we were upset about talking to his teacher. And there was really nothing positive I could tell him that his teacher said about him so he is probably all confused. He loves his teacher and the other kids in the school.
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:58 AM
 
613 posts, read 808,131 times
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Originally Posted by ladyvictoria View Post
Wsop, you gave voice to my worst fears. That's what bothered me last night. Even when she was showing us his classwork, which was pretty good she didn't use any positive words to describe him or his work. I found that strange, I understand I am biased as his mother but my son is a very happy, social 5 year old and most of the time gets great reaction from adults. I will discuss your post with my husband and send her an e-mail asking for specific examples. I got suprised last night and didn't ask her what I should have. They won't put him in ESL, they already gave him an ESL test and he passed.
Don't beat yourself up over this. It's a natural reaction when being caught off guard. I hate to say it, but sometimes teachers do this on purpose. It keeps them in control of the situation. Did she by any chance make you sit in a little Kindy chair?

I have learned over the years it's best not to say too much during a conference and to just listen carefully and absorb what is being said, especially if it is something upsetting. I prefer to take a few days and calm down, (if necessary; not all my P/T conferences were negative, thankfully), plus it's easier to put things in perspective and plan a course of action when you are able to think more clearly. Unfortunately, I think sometimes the teachers misconstrue my reaction, or non reaction, as it not sinking in. I had one teacher stress the word ATTENTION PROBLEM over and over again as if it was going over my head.

Be sure to keep your email as professional as possible and stress you want to work with the teacher to resolve any problems quickly. As much as possible, stress the positives that you see both in your son and the teacher. Hopefully, if you stress the positive she will do the same.

Beware of the teacher who every time you bring up a positive insists on pointing out a negative in return. I hope his teacher does not do this, but be on the look out for it.

Naturally, you can't completely ignore any negative behaviors he may be displaying in school, so you may want to suggest to the teacher that you would like to deal with one behavior at a time. Ask her which behavior is causing him the most difficulty and suggest you and the teacher come up with a plan to work on that particular behavior. Remind her that your son does not have a preschool background and so this is probably very overwhelming for him. After working through one behavior, move on to the next.

I know this is hard and my post may not reflect this, but don't completely give up on this teacher yet. Again, do your best to keep stressing the positive and working with her to come up with a plan to correct the negative behavior. Email her weekly for reports on his behavior, and watch your son carefully for any signs of reluctance in the mornings about going to school.
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Old 10-14-2011, 09:15 AM
 
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Yes she did make us sit on a kidy chair which was very uncomfortable :-) I find your suggestions very helpful. I will write her a professional email and ask for specific examples, rules he is breaking, what penalty if any he is getting and what bad behavior I should concentrate on correcting first. I will also ask the names of other teachers he is seeing. As you said I don't think she got how upset I became last night and how surprised I was. Education is very important to us- I am an attorney, my husband is an engineer so hopefully she wasn't exaggerating the issue.
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