Advice sought - dealing with Grundschule teachers...

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Morning,

 

I am looking for advice on how to discuss the (lack of) support my local Grundschule teachers give towards my youngest son (7), without making the problem worse.

 

Basically he is a very shy kid, with a bit of a speech impediment (kind of a stutter/pause) due to having to deal with 3 languages and because he gets very nervous when he is focused on.  However he does have a habit of not listening when asked to do something he doesn't really want to do and is, emotionally, a little younger than his years.  This means that he needs to have someone that clearly define what he is and is not allowed to do and is strict, but not in an aggressive or overbearing way.

 

His usual form teacher is very good at handling him and, other than the kids sat next to him in class bullying him the first couple weeks (which the teacher resolved by changing where he sits), he behaves normally in her class.

 

Unfortunately she has been away frequently in the last few weeks due to training and illness, and the replacement teacher(s) and support staff are, at best, unsupportive and at worst are actually making the situation worse.

 

This came to a head a couple of weeks ago when the three kids that initially bullied my son in his class took to following him around during the break and teasing him until he eventually snapped and lashed out.  Unfortunately this resulted in him catching one kids on the cheek and scratching his face.

 

The response from the school has been to ignore the bullying that was being done and just focus on the fact that my son hit out.  We received a note from the school stating that such behaviour would not be tolerated and that my son was banned from being outside during break  and we should have him taken to an Ergopaed immediately.

 

Since this incident, the support staff and ersatz teachers have started being hypercritical of his behaviour, making daily complaints of *anything* he does that isn't perfect behaviour - for example in a 2 hour art class at one point he said he was tired and pretended to lie down to go to sleep - this was flagged as disruptive and innapropriate behaviour.  Just the the other day there was an afternoon outing the school had organised to a local Wald, and when I dropped my son off he was sat quietly by himself, not doing anything, when the teacher pulled him out in front of the whole class and loudly and aggressively (close to shouting) told him that he was not to cause trouble and if he did anything wrong today he would be sent straight home.  It was obvious that this immediately embarrassed and upset him (and made my blood boil as well).  Talking with some of the other kids it seemed that he is now quite regularly "pre-emptively" scolded in front of his class.

 

I've also been complained at by one particular support staff who, last time I saw her, made the implied threat that if my son does anything she doesn't like she will simply call me and tell me I have to come and take my son out of the school for the day.

 

Does anyone have any advice how to deal with this situation without just making it worse for my son?  Unfortunately the support teachers and staff (and the Leitnerin) give the attitude that it is not their job to support my son in any way and rather than try to help him they will just exclude him going forward.

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Replacement elementary school teachers and support staff. Not necessarily the brightest or most motivated people. Probably not worth trying to reason with them. The situation is not permanent so waiting for them to move on is an option. If your son has been disruptive to the point a teacher is threatening to have you take him home - alarm, alarm, alarm - he will invite a certain negative attitude. He is learning this the hard way. Maybe you should get him checked for attention deficit disorder.

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19 minutes ago, optimista said:

Maybe you should get him checked for attention deficit disorder.

 

Nothing has come up so far with the usual checks - we do have an appointment to see an Ergopaed in a couple weeks (which we made to keep the school quiet).

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Sorry to hear your son is facing difficulty at school. From your son's age, I'd assume he is in Grade 1 or 2 perhaps?

In my experience, and as obvious as it sounds, not all schools are alike. The quality and motivation of teaching staff varies significantly within and between schools. It really is a case of the luck of the draw. As you have noted yourself, your son's original form teacher was engaged enough to support him and his individuality.

If it were me, I would attempt to meet the Headmaster/mistress and try to gauge the interest the school has in supporting your son. If the feeling is one of indifference, I would seriously look at moving schools. Often times, one does get a feeling for the atmosphere within the school by assessing the Headteacher. (What was the German saying, a fish stinks from it's head?)

At the same time, I would look to see, if it's at all possible, to help your son be more resilient in the face of the bullying. I know it is difficult in the moment, especially when it is your child who is the one suffering, but there will always be adversity and as parents, we need to help our children overcome and manage these troubles.

 

And yes, I have had a similar situation and I have had to switch schools for my children.

 

Good luck.

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Our daughter was pulled up for not concentrating in class and the teacher recommended Ergotherapy. We took her to the Kinderarzt who is fantastic. He spoke to her and us and then said there's nothing wrong with her, she just has a difficult personality so instead of Ergo he recommended Horse riding. Now I would say first port of call would be the Kinderarzt, explain what's going on and the recommendation for Ergo and then take it from there.

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You need a better relationship with the teachers. Ask for a meeting with both the teachers involved and also the head teacher.

Explain the issues as you and your son see it, but don't dismiss their concerns that your son is capable of undesirable behaviour too.

Make sure they know that you are an active and involved parent: i.e, you are not dumping a difficult kid on them, you do believe that kids should pay attention/behave at school...and also, that you won't just accept unfair treatment either!

Propose some solutions: for example, discuss techniques the previous teacher used, and which worked for your  son. Perhaps mention things you do at home which help your son's behaviour. On the flip side, once you have shown how you can help them, it is then reasonable for you to ask them to take a second before jumping to conclusions in respect of your son's behaviour, and importantly how the other kids are reacting with him.

If they have recommended a visit to the Ergo, then do it. The Ergo may say there is nothing wrong. If that is the case, make sure the school knows you have had that meeting, and what the outcome was.

Good luck.

 

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12 minutes ago, GlennC said:

 

Nothing has come up so far with the usual checks - we do have an appointment to see an Ergopaed in a couple weeks (which we made to keep the school quiet).

 

Sorry, but if your son has a speech impediment, you should make an appointment with a speech therapist (Logopäde) - in the interest of your son. Doing that to "keep the school quiet" is the wrong approach.

 

And what do you mean by "Ergopaed"? An occupational therapist? Was that a doctor's recommendation that the child should undergo occupational therapy? 

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My kid no 2 went to Ergo. They checked kid out and helped along where they felt it could be improved. Wasnt too bad as experience but an engaged teacher will do way more. Go to a doctor and get any help you can get. Most of it covered by healthy insurance so why not. Worst case it does cost you a little time to bring your kid somewhere for special training and if it helps to tackle the mobber in his class there is no harm.  My first kid had a boy at school who subsequently was asked to leave school which did not help in first place but later the parents told me that they were absolutely happy with the place they then went to. Kid is now back to normal routine living.

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2 minutes ago, someonesdaughter said:

 

Sorry, but if your son has a speech impediment, you should make an appointment with a speech therapist (Logopäde) - in the interest of your son. Doing that to "keep the school quiet" is the wrong approach.

 

And what do you mean by "Ergopaed"? An occupational therapist? Was that a doctor's recommendation that the child should undergo occupational therapy? 

 

We have had a session of several months Logopaed prior to, and continuing into, his first term of School.  This corrected his pronunciation but the stutter/pausing is due to nerves and having to deal with multiple languages (3).  The Logo was perfectly happy with him at the end of the sessions and confirmed he did not need to continue.

 

I believe Ergopaed does translate as occupational therapist and it was the School that said they wanted that to happen, not hte doctor.  We have made an appointment with the Kinderartzt to discuss this and get a referral if necessary.

 

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9 minutes ago, GlennC said:

 

We have had a session of several months Logopaed prior to, and continuing into, his first term of School.  This corrected his pronunciation but the stutter/pausing is due to nerves and having to deal with multiple languages (3).  The Logo was perfectly happy with him at the end of the sessions and confirmed he did not need to continue.

 

I believe Ergopaed does translate as occupational therapist and it was the School that said they wanted that to happen, not hte doctor.  We have made an appointment with the Kinderartzt to discuss this and get a referral if necessary.

 

 

Thanks for the full explanation, it's more understandable now. Ergopäde (rare) or Ergotherapeut  (most of the time) is the German word for occupational therapist and occupational therapies have to be prescribed by the doctor (if the health insurance should pay for them), that's why I asked about the doctor. 

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OP, our kid#2 was 7 years old, bilingual with a stutter and the speech and language therapist was able to tell us that this combo can suggest CAPD - Central Auditory Processing Disorder - which varies hugely in severity. This was confirmed by a visit to the deaf centre and an audiologist. 

 

They are the opposite of deaf - they hear so much that they cannot always distinguish important sounds from background noise, which means

        - not following instructions well

        - becoming tired quickly - life involves 'active listening' constantly

        - behaving as though they have ADHD with poor attention, obviously, whether they do have it or not

        - difficulties with peers because they are not always on the same page, not just in the Maths book, but in life, as it were

 

and so on - you can look it up and see whether you think that is something worth asking your Artzt about as well.

 

Treatment involved Ergotherapy aimed at improving concentration skills, use of a Edulink apparatus which he and the staff have to wear and he also had an Integrationshilfer for his entire school life - mostly FSJ-ers and we had new ones annually.

 

It is just a thought.

 

Can you find out when the regular teacher is likely to be back? If she manages him well, then that gold is worth a bit of a wait. Is she perhaps willing in the mean time to speak to the ersatz teachers/support staff on his/your behalf - explaining stuff to them? It will sound better coming from her.

 

My son was always disadvantaged when other teachers got involved - once being called out for being disruptive by a visiting bloke in front of the whole school, being picked on by the computer teacher who didn't understand the need for really ausführlich instructions etc. and this was even with a helper there all the time. Mine did get through school, relatively unscathed, with a Fachabitur, and has gone on to start studying. 

 

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The role of an Ergotherapeut in education is not well translated by Occupational Therapist. I had never met this until I taught here. They deal a lot with sensory processing disorders and among I'm sure many other things, they deal with the child's physical and emotional needs, helping the child to recognise, monitor and control their own behaviours through physical strategies. In a good setting they can help parents and teachers develop  behaviour management plans tailored to the individual child.

It would certainly be worth having an assessment done and the speech assessment is also a must. Your child sounds really overwhelmed and it may not be a bad idea, if he is "young for his age" to have him repeat the grade next year, giving him time and space to get himself sorted out. All the best!

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3 hours ago, GlennC said:

... he does have a habit of not listening when asked to do something he doesn't really want to do...

Maybe he is disorder free and just does not do what he's asked, when he's asked because he has been allowed to do as he likes when he likes? I have certainly come across kids who have never been given the message, or who have conveniently forgotten, that they need to do what they are told. Now. No-one else will indulge them like their parents. Just sayin'.

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@optimista: Why do we always expect children to do what they're told? I was the most obedient child imaginable and I can tell you that when a child always does what they're told, it's because they are scared shitless of people in authority and are very insecure. I'm not suggesting that children be allowed do whatever they want but I find it odd how, in these supposedly liberal times, we still expect children to always do what's expected of them.

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I was pretty much a goody-goody, not because I was scared but because I knew what was expected. You can set limits kindly but firmly. If you are responsible for a gaggle of kids - or even just a couple - doing just what they like, life can be pretty unpleasant and unmanageable. There is a time and a place for letting of steam and playing. The classroom is not that place.

 

Some kids never get the message from their parents that they need to do as they are told. A foreign concept. You cannot run a classroom with kids who think they do not need to obey the rules.

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@optimista: I take your point. I just have some personal hang-ups about authoritarian teachers, having suffered under them as a child. Sure, there are kids who need some discipline but there are also some painfully shy and anxious children who need to be brought of themselves so to speak and learn that we are not put on this earth just to please others.

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I am sorry to hear that. There are good teachers. And bad teachers. And the whole range of kids in one classroom at age 7 from the future president to the serial killer... must be fascinating to watch them.

 

I have seen an excellent teacher flip on the second to last day of the year because he had to tolerate the unruly behaviour of two boys in his class who did not know what "no" meant. Teachers hands are pretty much tied these days and too often they do not have the support of the parents.

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7 minutes ago, optimista said:

I am sorry to hear that. There are good teachers. And bad teachers. And the whole range of kids in one classroom at age 7 from the future president to the serial killer... must be fascinating to watch them.

 

I have seen an excellent teacher flip on the second to last day of the year because he had to tolerate the unruly behaviour of two boys in his class who did not know what "no" meant. Teachers hands are pretty much tied these days and too often they do not have the support of the parents.

Yeah, times have changed. Nowadays, teachers probably don't enjoy the same respect they once had (at least in certain environments). Too far east is west as they say. Mind you, in my time, there were some teachers, too, who took dog's abuse from some of the kids and who couldn't control the class at all. And then on the other end of the spectrum there were the fascist authoritarians that frightened the life out of the kids - or out of me at any rate.

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3 hours ago, Feierabend said:

if he is "young for his age" to have him repeat the grade next year, giving him time and space to get himself sorted out.

That´s a double-edged sword though as it comes with the risk that he takes it as punishment and/or a message that something is wrong with him.

 

One of the many advantages of Montessori schools is that they teach kids of several grades in one class so that a child wouldn´t notice if was to repeat a year. Plus the atmosphere ( at least in those 2 Montessori schools my kids visited) in these schools is more prone to prevent bullying (probably in large part because kids are supposed to teach each other which obviously necessitates a lot of peer-to-peer interaction). If possible you might want to consider a Montessori school.

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A little boy - or girl - who lies down on the floor in class is definitely showing his unreadiness for the behavior expected in first or second grade.  I'd recommend grade replacement as soon as possible, if he's currently in Grade 2; and repeating Grade 1 if that's his present placement.  

Keeping a child in an environment where he seems really unready to deal with the expectations is cruel.  We all love our children and we let that love veil problems sometimes.  But with five children scattered over a 20-year period in German and US schools, I changed a lot of my attitudes: from 'sensitivity' and 'the teacher doesn't understand my child' to 'hmmmm, I probably got it wrong'.  Teachers do have a lot more experience from their jobs, where they've dealt with hundreds of children, than we do as parents with only two or three.  When I look back at teacher recommendations for my oldest children, I see that what they foretold was accurate in many cases. Keeping one child in a class he couldn't handle was far more unkind than letting him start over in a class where more of his classmates were at his stage of development, even though he'd need to make new friends. He was smart enough, but he was the youngest in the class and was dealing with issues that became apparent only with adulthood.  All in all, the older children in a class, or those whose emotional development is more advanced, benefit from that added maturity.  
Our children often surprise us with behavior we don't observe.  @sarabyrd was an enormously picky eater at home; yet her daycare facility told me that they would shift her from one table to another, where she ate without discrimination and acted as a prod to kiddies who didn't want to eat.

Just the three-language acquisition is a stressful situation for your son. It may seem as if he's doing it with ease, but that apparent ease may be at the cost of developing other qualities, such as emotional maturity.  The stuttering would seem natural at this stage, and is likely something that will disappear sooner or later. 

 

I'm sure the referral from your child's physician will be both eye-opening and reassuring.   

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