SalemPar's picture
SalemPar

Opinion on Kindergarten problems


So I have a son that acts quite like many of the others I have read on here, but we are having escalating problems with him at school and I am currently having him change schools - so I'm interested in some other people's opinions of the situation. 


My son is a young kindergartener (July birthday and 5).  He may be ADHD but has not been properly diagnosed.  I was diagnosed ADD when I was in junior high.  We are very short on money so it has been difficult finding a way to have him see a psychiatrist.  We are, however, in the process of doing so.  more about this in a sec. 


My wife and I have both worked very much and therefore our son did not have a lot of chances to socialize with other children at a young age.  We feel somewhat responsible for his lack of social skills, but feel like we are not the only problem.  We had him in a daycare program and his teacher said that he seemed to have some communication problems.  We took him to a state sponsored preschool program and the professionals there agreed.  An IEP was created and my son went through almost a full year in this pre-school program.  Before the year was through though he had met all of the requirements in his IEP and was therefore exited.  No behavior problems or anything the entire time he was in this environment. 


This year he is in a regular kindergarten class.  There are a lot of changes - more kids, older kids etc.  We are in a district with wealthy parents who have been able to hold their kids back an extra year before entering school.  Some are actually over a year older than my son. 


The teacher began commenting on his attention problems early on in the school year.  At our first teacher-parent conference, we said that it is possible that he is ADHD (as we have long had suspicions), and asked for a new IEP, 504 plan, or to see if maybe there was a speech/comprehension problem.  Soon after we had another meeting with the principle, counselor, teacher etc., to talk about reevaluating him for a new IEP.  They did not want to do so until another 3-4 months later and the teacher said that she had put in place some modifications that seemed to be working.  One example of the modification was a chart that indicated whether he did great at an assignment, did ok, or had trouble. 


(I took off from work to go to the teacher parent conference.  The meeting didn't start until 30 minutes after our alloted time, the teacher's phone went off twice, and she rushed us along after about 20 minutes.)


About 3 weeks ago the teacher notified us that she was going to discontinue this chart because he did not comprehend what was going on.  (I do not agree with her as he can articulate most of it to me.) 


Also around this time, he began showing signs of lowered self esteem.  He was comming home and telling us that he was getting recess taken away and having to go to time out often.  Sometimes he was being mean to other kids - and he knew what he was doing was bad but cannot tell us why he did it.  When we would pick him up, other students would say things like, "I dont know why he is so bad..."  But he is really well liked in the class, hes kind of like a class clown. 


We took my son to his pediatrition to ask about ADHD.  The doctor said he definately thinks that he has it but could only offer him medication if he made the diagnosis.  (He is a state doctor and therefore if we had his diagnosis and did not medicate him we could be in trouble with the state or CPS for not treating his illness.)  He referred us to a psychiatrist and we are waiting until we can go there. 


My wife returned him to class that day and his teacher caught her in the hall.  My son was present for the entire conversation.  The teacher said, "while you are here, we need to talk about (his) behavior problems.  He is acting horrible in class.  He is hurting other kids, he is lying to me, and he is not doing what the things I've asked etc."  At this point my son starts crying.  My wife brings up that we wonder if simply taking recess away is really a valid method of punishing a child like ours.  He needs to be punished for acting up, but he also needs some way to release energy.  The teacher became even more upset and began criticizing us for allowing him to go to the park after he has had discipline problems at school (how she knows this I am not sure - but I don't think its her business.)  My wife asked again for an IEP evaluation and the teacher said that we could see about that after another meeting in the next couple of weeks etc. 


I am in the process of having my child placed in another school now.  I believe that if the teacher can belittle my son in such a way directly in front of us, then there is no telling what she is doing while we arent present.  I think he is acting out in class because he can sense her frustration with him - and that he has become the "bad" kid in class.  I realize we are all human, but when a 5 year old is labeled a deviant he doesn't have much room for change.  Its like he's in a rut and I want to give him a new chance. 


The principle offered to set up a 504 plan with this teacher, but I don't think she will be able to let go of her frustration with him.  I hate to shake his world up and take him away from the things and friends he is used to - but I think its the lesser of the evils. 


What do you guys think?


 



Ramona's picture
Ramona

I'm a speech language pathologist, and I work in the schools.  I also have a son who has a diagnosis of ADHD through his pediatrician.  Luckily, the medication and some behavioral modification has worked for us, but I know it doesn't for everyone. 


In the state of Indiana, if the parent requests IN WRITING an academic evaluation (which could include speech/language, IQ, achievement, adaptive behavior, social history, etc), the school has only 60 school days to complete the evaluation and the conference to remain in compliance with law. 


It sounds like you are very frustrated with this teacher.  I just finished reading a book called "Power Parenting for Children with ADD".  I can't remember the author off the top of my head, but I'd recommend it because it gives lots of examples of how to plot behaviors and deal with schools.  It's a little outdated and some terminology and laws have changed from when the book was written, but it has some very good information. 


It's obviously very late in the school year.  Without knowing anything more about your child, the teacher, or the schools in your area than what you indicated in the post, I'd think carefully about your options.  I think my opinion is that kindergarten is very important in establishing the child's feelings toward school in general.  If you move the child now, yes, he will miss his friends, but he will also start fresh and be able to make new friends who will be in place for next year.  It's definitely a tough decision.  I think you need to decide where he'll be next year and get everything (IEP, 504, behavior plan, medication (if you want to), etc) in place.  You didn't mention how he's doing academically...will moving on to first grade be an option?  Since he's so young, holding him back to do kindergarten over again might not be such a bad thing (especially if you were to place him in a different school (but I might wait until next year to do this if this is what you are thinking about doing...that way the other children in his new school wouldn't know). 


Don't blame yourself about the socialization aspect of this.  Many children (think about all of the kids who live in rural areas) go to school without much socialization at all and do fine). 


Good luck to you.

Dejasmommy's picture
Dejasmommy

Let me first start off by saying that I deeply feel for you and your frustration with your son's educational experience so far. I am experiencing a very similar situation with my 5-year-old daughter. I just went online to search frantically for some sort of answers, feedback, etc.


My daughter's teacher, I feel, genuinely doesn't like to deal with my daughter. My daughter is also in the process of diagnosis for sensory issues and possible ADHD, and we have been working with early intervention and other agencies to move that process forward. The school is very much aware of this.


Back in October (towards the beginning of school) due to my daughters emotional outbursts and behavior (hitting, etc.) on the bus and in class, the bus driver refused to drive her, so they had to arrange for her to ride the Handicap bus. Not so great self-esteem came from that one, as you can imagine. At this same time, her teacher decided to place my daughter at a table all by herself at school, while everyone else sits together at separate tables. She must also sit in the office before school and wait for the teacher to come to get her when class starts (all the while her classmates are out in the hall making faces and fun at her.) This was supposed to be a temporary situation. Here it is March and although I have spoken to the pricipal twice about re-integrating her into the socially enriching environment that Kindergarten is supposed to be for our little ones, it is all to no avail. My little girl still sits alone, and she often crys because she doesn't want to go to school.


The bottom line is that this experience, this first experience of school for our children is the foundation for the rest of their years in education. If our kids don't want to go to kindergarten, the most fun year I remember in school, how are we going to convince them not to drop out of high school in the coming years?


So what can we do? Well, this morning I saw light at the end of the tunnel. You see, the school receives a certain amount of money for each child enrolled in the district each year. This morning I spoke with my daughters principal for the third time, and I informed her that if I did see some re-integration by the end of the week, that I would be pulling my daughter from the school system and I would home-school her. The response I got from her after that statement was a full turn-around. She assured me that what I had asked for would be done before the week was out.


I guess the sad truth about my situation at least is that to get the kind of education my daughter and your son deserve, maybe you have to "hit em where it hurts".....the pocketbook.


Best of luck to your family!