Why is my son struggling with behavior at school?

Ashley - posted on 01/19/2012 ( 1 mom has responded )




My 5 year old son is in Kindergarten this year. He's a June baby in a school with an August cut off, so he's on the younger side. He's also smallest in his class (about 42" in shoes and pretty skinny). He started out the school year excited and motivated, but within about a month or so, he started acting out - mostly not following directions, getting out of his seat, talking, etc. My fiance volunteered in the classroom one day and saw that he was literally the only child that had to be spoken to repeatedly. He does not struggle academically at all and is performing on level (we suspect he can perform better than he actually is though).

Over the winter break, we spent a lot of time drilling into him how important it is to stay seated and not cause distractions. Yesterday his teacher calls and tells me that he's no longer been getting out of his seat or talking like he was, but that since school started back up, he just doesn't care and isn't putting any effort forth - sitting and sucking his thumb and not doing assignments. (he was a constant thumb-sucker until last summer, but he hadn't done it in months)

He's a really active child and loves moving around. When we do homework, we play a game where every time he completes X number of sections, he gets to run across the room and back before he starts the next one, and it's made homework time so much more tolerable. Obviously at school he's not getting that kind of an option.

To me, he seems like a completely normal, sweet 5 year old boy, but for the past few months I've been feeling helpless. We met with a therapist and she sees nothing materially wrong with him. She suggested that he's fairly hyperactive, but NOT ADHD (she gave a clinical diagnosis of Conduct Disorder - hyperactivity only, but urged that it was for documentation purposes should the school need it and to NOT medicate him; 50 years ago, his diagnosis would have been "little boy".) She also suggested that in the future he will probably test as gifted, but he's not ready for it yet. His teacher dismissed the "gifted" suggestion based on his lack of performance, which suggests to me that she's not especially versed on what gifted is. (I was found to be gifted in 3rd grade, but never mentioned this to the therapist until after she suggested it, and both my ex-husband and I were always under-achievers)

He definitely does have focus issues - it takes us hours to get through dinner because he can't sit still for it - but he's very intelligent, and part of me does believe he's not being challenged (although his teacher disagrees). They're also telling me that he lacking somewhat socially in terms of understanding the consequences of his actions, and they've started sending him to weekly sessions with the school counselor for what basically seems to me like empathy training.

Sorry for such a long post, but I'm to the point that I'm losing sleep over this. Would love to hear from some others that have been through it. My biggest fear is that because he's in a charter school that he could be asked to leave. It's a great school and our local district is pretty abysmal. Any comments are appreciated.


Tatiana - posted on 01/19/2012




My daughter is having that problem right now. She is a very sociable child and like to talk to the other kids instead of doing her work. We've given her some rewards to work for. For example, if she goes an entire week without a note home from the teacher, she can choose dessert and what day we have it. It hasn't worked yet but it's a prize she values so we know she'll keep trying. Our son is very scholarly and likes to read rather than do his schoolwork. We've had many a chat with him about when it's appropriate for reading time. Since he's in 5 grade we encourage as much reading as he wants outside of school but not during classes.

It's a hard balance to find when the child's attitude goes to extremes but good luck with your son. (It may just be the teacher who's having problems.)

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