Monday, December 7, 2009

Not-so-Mellow Yellow

I am reaching the point of being pretty stressed out about Patrick.

In his parent-teacher conference last month, Mrs. W hinted that she thinks he may have a hyperactivity problem. She of course wouldn't say anything outright, because they're not really allowed to, but she said that she was letting him use handheld fiddle toys to help him sit still and give him something to do, because that's what her mother did with her brother, who had ADD. When I asked her if she thought he had a problem, she backpedaled so fast it's a wonder she didn't fall over her own feet, and said if that was something WE were concerned about, we could talk to a doctor about it.

Uh, when you plant a seed like that in someone's head, who wouldn't be concerned, whether I believed it or not? Either he has an issue, and needs help, or he doesn't, but she's treating him like he does.

Not to mention, he's been getting Yellows almost every day, all year long. (For those of you w/o school-age kids, this is a behavior thing; kids start the day on 'green', and get moved down a scale to other colors based on the teacher's perception of their behavior. Yellow is the first color down after green.) In this particular class, there's no physical chart, so the children aren't moving a clip or marker of any kind, and therefore have no idea when they have moved from one color to the next. This nice in that there's no public humiliation, but a pain because the kids don't know exactly what they did sometimes to get whatever color they get.

For months now, we've been trying to encourage the green behavior, while stressing out over whether he's just not capable of it, and if not, maybe there IS a problem, etc. Then, the other day, I caught him lying about having already done his homework, and the root of the problem smacked me in the face: he started crying and saying he didn't want to do it because it was too easy and boring. (This is true; his class is doing simple addition when he could multiply many of those numbers.) After talking with him a little further, I realized that the times he's getting in trouble are when he's waiting for other people to finish their work, and he's sitting there bored in his seat looking for something to do.

Suddenly, I felt like I had broken through the ice and could breathe again. There's no problem with my boy. There's a problem with the school. They're not challenging him, and he's bored, which makes him fidgety, which in turn is making the teacher treat him like he's got some medical issue. I know he does a lot of weird things, and boredom probably isn't the only reason he gets in trouble, but I'll bet it's a big part of it.

Enter The Guilt. I was taking the side of the school's behavior system over my boy, and believing things they were not-quite-saying rather than looking for an answer myself. He's not having problems with his schoolwork, he has lots of friends, and he functions well in almost every environment but those where he has to sit still and simply wait quietly. I should have known. I'm his mother, why did I come so close to accepting someone else's definition of my son?

Last night, I did two things: one, I filled out an application for Patrick to get into a magnet program for science and math next year at a local school. It's a drive, but he would get to do schoolwork 1-2 years above his grade level, and yet still be with his own peers. He was so excited when I told him about it he started jumping up and down. The other was that I emailed his teacher, explained what I thought was going on and how it's the same as last year before his K teacher started sending him to 2nd grade for reading, and asking if he could either have more challenging work, or if I could send in a workbook or something for him to use when he has down time, even if it wasn't something he handed in to her. I haven't heard back yet, but I'm almost scared to. I tried talking to her at the beginning of the year about it, and got shut down, so we'll see. Fingers crossed, people.


Nowheymama said...

I don't see why that would be a problem. K's teacher keeps challenging activities around for some of the kids to work on while others are finishing up.

creative kerfuffle said...

we had that issue w/ the boy until he went into the ag classes in third grade. before that he was bored, unchallenged and was always getting in trouble for talking, etc. now that he's more challenged we don't have those issues. now our issues are him forgetting his homework on a semi-weekly basis : (

jennifer said...

Long time lurker here! I just wanted to say that I've found that my son is even experiencing this in PRESCHOOL! They have 45 minutes of free activity time & that's just too long for him & I've watched him start to get bored and look for things to do and often, as a 3 year old boy will do, he decides to do things he shouldn't be doing and gets his stick moved from green on down...

I've talked to them about shorted activity time and such or him redirecting himself to something he can occupy himself with until it's snack time (like reading) and he does it but I cannot stand that he gets in trouble for getting bored (acting out, I understand) but they aren't taking the time (and attention) to see WHY this is happening!

And it's made me very sad for him...he's just a little guy & needs some help sometimes not punishment :(

Astarte said...

Jennifer - I can't believe they're using that system in preschool!!! Is that a public prek in an elementary school, so that's why they're using it already??? That makes me sad, too!!! Patrick would get in trouble at prek occasionally for doing things like combining activity areas rather than doing one thing here and the other there, but to me that was creativity. :(

d e v a n said...

I think that you've probably hit the nail on the head and also that you are a GENIUS for thinking of sending in something for him to do in down time. The teacher should majorly appreciate that. (Am also now hyperventilating at the thought of sending my oldest baby to K in the fall.)

Hotch Potchery said...

Our CK2 was a total nutball in elementary school...we were thrilled with a 'yellow'! Teachers said medicate, we said no, we have to figure him out. We FINALLY did. He was getting poor grades because he would not do his 'boring' work, and those grades kept him in 'regular' classes. As soon as we figured him out, that all got fixed. He is finishing his first semester of college. on scholarship.

Not Your Aunt B said...

I don't see why that would be a problem, especially as it is a workbook (versus a comic book or some other non-school related thing). I think she should at least try it for one week and then revisit the issue. Is it too much of a distraction for the other children? Is there something/someplace he could do/go when he is done while waiting for the other children? Or even if he could simply go up to her desk when he is done so that she can see he has finished- she might then see the pattern herself. Even if he could just attend a class one grade ahead for a couple of days to see how he there any harm in trying?

I still have the fidgety issue. I was in the honors classes throughout school. It IS hard to sit still and just sit, even now. Through grad school I did crosswords or played with silly putty. It helped me listen better (studies have shown that sit can help you listen better if listening is not your preferred method of learning). If the school is totally uncooperative, you could get him tested outside of school and bring those results in.

I just hate that he's having to go through it. Please keep us updated.

Sherendipity said...

It's easy to accept someone else's definition of our children. The hard part is weeding through the opinions and advice, and coming up with the truth.
Congratulations to you for taking initiative and finding programs to keep your Son interested. The last thing you want is for him to disassociate himself with school and curriculum and have to force him to go.
Stand firm with that teacher and don't let her shut you down again. It's a long time before school is out, and you're in the right.
Good luck!