December 07, 2010,
S.C. asks from Chicago, IL on December 06, 2010
6 Year Old Having Issues Adjusting to New School
My 6 yrs old son is in Kindergarten this year and is having a hard time adjusting. Since he started he has a totally different behavior pattern than what he displays outside of school. In school he does random things that ends up getting him in a heap of trouble such as throwing pencils and crayons, he loves tumbling/gymnastics so he will come out of nowhere with a cartwheel or whatever. When he’s told to stop doing certain things and someone tries to stop him, he becomes aggressive and physical with his teachers (not all the time, but often enough that this is starting to take a toll on me).
I drop him and my daughter off in the morning at a before school program that will bus them to school and at times when he gets off the bus he may run or when the bell rings he may run as if he is trying to get away. He says that school is boring but when I ask him why he's acting the way he is he says he does not know or because he didn't get to do what he wanted to do (e.g. one day at recess when it was time to go back in he didn't want to so the teacher tried to take him off jungle gym and he kicked her in the stomach). I don't condone his behavior but him hitting or kicking someone is usually him retaliating because he didn’t like what someone else did. To an adult it may not a good reason but for a 6 yr old child it is.
The school recommended an in school program for him because they feel that he has a behavior problem. I disagree because he does not display this behavior outside of school. He’s not an angel but definitely displays no behavior problem. The other two schools he’s been to and the 2 home daycares have never informed me that they were having issues with him. When I shared this with the school I feel as if they didn’t believe me because they asked me for the names and numbers to the other places he attended and I freely gave this information to them because I have nothing to hide.
He does not seem as if he’s troubled by anything (at least from what I can tell) and he’s extremely bright. Everyone that he has to deal with in the school complements how intelligent he is. He’s in an advanced reader program and seems eager to learn, but his in school behavior will keep him from excelling further. I decided to make an appointment with his doctor and speak with him about what’s been going on, I feel as if I have nowhere else to turn. Today makes time #3 of him being suspended and this whole situation stresses me beyond the imagination. If anyone can give me any suggestions I would gladly appreciate it.
M.L. answers from Houston on December 06, 2010
Yes, he has a behavior problem. He truly needs the in school program to help. He is acting out in an aggressive, violent and difficult manner which will interfere with his education, as well as the education of the others... even if he does not display these behaviors at home and is still very bright and intelligent, it is still a problem for him whatever the reason, and needs to be addressed and any further behavioral help he can receive now will be most beneficial for his future.
A 6 year old is old enough to know that kicking a person is not an okay way to retaliate. He needs to learn coping strategies, discipline, respect for authority and how to behave in social settings.
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M.P. answers from Pittsburgh on December 07, 2010
You should consider getting him evaluated for GATE. My son has a child in his program that acted out a lot in Kindergarten...none of the kids even wanted to be around him b/c his behavior was so wild. His big thing was to hit the other kids and play rough. Well it turns out that he WAS extremely bored in Kindergarten b/c once they tested him and got him to the level where he felt a challenge his behavior improved a lot. Not 100%-he is still a kid with some behavior things going on- but much better. And if he is in GATE he will have a GIEP which is a great thing to have to maneuver through school I am finding. You will have a legal right to so much at that point.
The thing is with Kindergarten it really can be too 'easy' for many kids. There are kids at a levels -esp with reading. Schools don't seem to want to differentiate at this level but they really should. Not excusing your son's behavior though. Kicking a teacher really goes beyond that though. I am hoping that you are punishing him to fit the crime and not excusing this behavior. Sometimes when a child has no boundaries they will push to find them.
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J.Y. answers from Chicago on December 07, 2010
I'm sorry to hear your son is having such a hard time in school. That must be miserable for everyone involved. Are you aware that you have a right to request modifications in the school/classroom that would help your son function better? Maybe request a meeting with the teacher, principal, and the school social worker to see if you can come up with some ideas for your son. Or, you could go the official route and request either a 504 plan or IEP depending on your son's specific issues. With one of those in place, your son would not be suspended or treated poorly for things he can't control. You can include a behavior intervention plan (how they will deal with defiance or whatever), environmental modifications (for example he sit closer to the teacher, sit in a cube chair, or be allowed to sit on a bouncy type pillow), transition support (maybe he needs more time or extra help when switching tasks or moving from one place to an other ie the bus to the classroom or the playground to the classroom), or material modification (presented differently or added content to stimulate him). I understand that your son behaves differently at home. But you have to understand that he isn't behaving at school for whatever reason. Maybe it isn't a good fit for him. Maybe he has learned that his behavior allows him consequences he likes (suspension means no school). Maybe he can't control himself when he feels the stress of school. Whatever the reason he needs some help. You don't have to agree to the special program. He is entitled to the least restrictive environment which means staying in his classroom with additional supports if that works for him. They can't tell you that they don't do things like that because they have to supply the best situation for him. It is the law. I know a lot about this because I have been an educational advocate for foster children for several years. If you need any guidance feel free to email me.
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D.B. answers from Chicago on December 07, 2010
If he is in the gifted reading program and teachers are commenting on how bright he is, then my guess is that he is bored. I would ask the teachers to keep track of exactly what is going on in class when he acts up. Are they teaching a lesson that he knows....and by "knows" he knows it so well that he has no interest in hearing about it again? This is not an excuse for bad behavior, but a possible reason for the bad behavior. Like you said "hitting is never, ever acceptable. There is never an okay reason to kick or hit just because you want to do something and you are told no. The behavior of kicking his teacher is not in the same category as throwing pencils. Cartwheels and such for no apparent reason and sudden acting out, sounds like an immature child. He seems to have had enough school/ home setting to know better, but maybe not. It is super important that he knows the difference between right and wrong. Every child by Kindergarten should know the difference between right and wrong when it comes to simple things like sitting down and being quiet to jumping around and being loud, from hitting someone to not hitting someone because it is not appropriate and he could hurt someone. Sorry, but at the age of 6 he should know this and should know better. If your son is aware of your attitude of, as you put it, a child does not know that kicking is not a good way of getting what he wants, then his bad behavoir is partly your fault. Not knowing that kicking or hitting is not a good way to get what you want is behavior of a 2 or 3 year old, not a six year old. It's time to stop babying him and enabling him.
You cannot compare home life or in home day care life with school. School you must sit and listen, you must do what your teacher asks of you, you must do what you are suppose to do when you are suppose to do it. Day care and home gives you the freedom to move on to something else if you are bored with a certain activity. School, no so much.
I guess the last question to ask yourself is what are his consequences, with you, when he is suspened at school? What happens on the day that he gets to stay home from school because he is suspended? I hope that there is no tv, no games, only reading or homework. If you are making his "day off" fun for him, you should expect more "days off" in the future. Good luck, sounds like your son is so smart that he is out smarting you as well, and getting away with it.
S.S. answers from Chicago on December 07, 2010
I hate to say this, but it sounds like your son does have a behavioral problem. I teach 2nd grade, and if a child did things like your son has, I would definitely think he had a behavior problem. Maybe you can request for the school social worker to talk with your child. Best of luck to you!
R.J. answers from Seattle on December 06, 2010
To ME it sounds like he needs a new school.
I went to (I always have to count on my fingers, by location, sheesh) 8.5 schools as a child (military family). Schools are soooooo very different from each other. And not just from state to state and county to county, but also quite literally from school to school. This school he's currently attending sounds like an awful fit for him socially, behaviorally, & academically.
I find it ironic that most of us spend weeks or longer searching for the "perfect" (or at least close) preschools for our kids and then we have no choice whatsoever as soon as they turn 5. It's like all the different learning styles, movement needs, personalities are just supposed to erase or something when our kids turn 5 and they're supposed to all magically fit in some cookie cutter way into the same place. Which, of course, is completely different from school to school... but darnit... YOUR kid will fit in whatever school they are assigned come hail or high water.
Anyhow, point being, I would suggest looking for a new school. Search the public, charter, parochial, & private schools within a distance you're willing to travel. And (little known fact), most private elementary schools have scholarship programs. I was rather shocked that one of the two we were considering gave 5k per year reductions on 125k-150k salaries... and at OUR income we would have had more than 60% off per year. So a 20k per year school became "affordable". (we actually went with homeschooling our 2e kiddo) I had always just kind of assumed that scholarships were for families who couldn't afford to pay at all (aka not solidly middle class squeeze where there's not enough to send but too much for funding). But no. MOST of the private schools I've come across have massive discounts for middle income families. Nice to know. Also, that the majority of them don't allow you to apply for fin aid until you're accepted, so financial aid has no part in the acceptance process.
But that's just private schools. Parochial, charter, PS montessori, alternative schools, PS Co-ops... come to find (as I did over xmas break of our K year when I was just about FED UP) at least in our area, are mostly attached to the pub school system and are therefore free.
And for the record... I too have kicked a person trying to physically remove me from somewhere. AND not just as a child. Defending ones self can be applied mistakenly, esp by children... but the instinct and the right to do so, are in my mind reactions that should not be blunted. Better & faster evaluations come with time and experience. And as an adult... If I'm going to lay hands on another person and move them somewhere they don't want to go... I durn well expect them to fight back - child or adult. Kind of like the lady who sued us because my cat scratched her when she tried to pick him up in the middle of a catfight. The judge called it a "self inflicted wound", and dismissed the case.