kindergartener acting out
by benjimom, Jan 14, 2010
I have a five year old boy. He is a young five for kindergarten with a MAY birthday.

He had a rough start to the kindergarten year, but after a few weeks, did better and this continued on until right before the holidays. Now things have really started to deteriorate. He is acting out everyday adn the last two days they ahve called me and asked me to come and get him and bring him home.  He has been running out of the class and supposedly trying to leave the school.  He spends a lot of time in the principal's office and he actually likes the principal.  The school is setting up a behavioral specialist to come in on Tuesday and evaluate him and come up with a plan.

I am also having him see a therapist and she says he might have ADHD.

His behaviour at home and w/the sitter has been good lately and he does what he is told, he still has his moments, but not like the school. He says he hates his teacher.  He is in karate and listens there.

In the last year he has gone through a divorce, his father is in jail and not available of course, moved to a new home, and started kindergarten and been with multiple childcare providers while I work.  

I am at my wit's end trying to figure out what is going on.  

I think he might be stressed, he has chewed holes in some shirts and he does not do that at home.

Today, apparently he had gas and a student told the teacher and she thought he pooped in his pants and he went to the office and then my babysitter had to pick him up early. His pants were clean.  

I just worry that things will nto get better . I wonder if changing classrooms would help.  

I don't think he's learning like he should either, reading is really hard for him.  I volunteered and noticed a lot of kids were struggling

The teacher is in her late 50s, early 60s and this is her first time to teach kindergarten.
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Member Comments (46)
by Sandman2Blank, Jan 14, 2010
Oh OUCH,  hadn't read this post when I wrote to you earlier.
As an elementary school principal, I was in awe of my kindergarten/first grade teachers.  It took a very special person to deal with kids of that age.  I would be curious what other grade levels this teacher has taught.  If it was first grade, she's got a chance.  If it was upper grade levels, I feel for her.  So its possible that she is part of the problem.  What you can do to help your son (outside of a transfer) is to very nicely meet with her and explain all that your son has gone through.  Ask her if she can do anything to make him feel more "at home".  If a teacher can be persuaded to take a personal interest in a child, magical things can happen.  Ask her opinion of what you can do at home to help her (really not a lot, but you want her to get personally involved).  Bring her sweets - its worth a try.  By the way, it wouldn't hurt to mention to the principal that even though your son tends to spend a lot of time there, he really likes the principal.  Having a principal take an interest in your son can be extremely helpful.
  If all of this doesn't work because she is just really out of her element.  Definitely pursue the meeting with the behavioral specialist and ask for a study team to meet.
   Finally, your little guy does sound stressed out.  I think that some of the other forum members will be able to add a few suggestions here.  Let us know how the meeting goes with the therapist.
by specialmom, Jan 15, 2010
Hi,  I agree with Sandman.  First, kindergarten is a very sressful time for many kids.  It is the first time real expectations have been placed on them.  They have a lot to do and learn and must be behaved all day (is he half day or full day?)-----  it is hard on a little guy and yours was young for the class at that.  So, I'm sure that plays a role to some extent.  Our school stresses that kids need to be developmentally ready for kindergarten vs academically ready.  Like them more mature vs knowing to read before they get there.  My younger son has a late April birthday----  so I am in the same boat eventually.

My son is also a chewer.  His sleaves can get pretty messed up as well as the collar of his shirts or jacket.  This is a sign of anxiety and stress.  My son also does it to soothe himself.  He has sensory integration disorder which affects his nervous system.  I try to be understanding that he is trying to soothe himself.  In the classroom, they give coffee stirrers to chew.  You can also tie a string with beads on it around his wrist or make a knecklace and he can chew and suck on that.  

Your boy has had a lot of change.  It takes its toll, I'm sure.  I think I'd let the school counselor, teacher AND principal know about it.  It is a key to what is going on with your child (one of them).  There are good and bad teachers out there.  I'd do as Sandman says and approach this teacher very posatively.  If she has been teaching for a long time----  she at least has the knowledge of lots of different types of kids.  The hope is that she knows how to deal with the young ones.  I'd express an interest in the "right" teacher next year.  I'd talk to the counselor torwards the end of the year about which first grade teacher she thinks would be best suited to help your son be successful.  I did that for kindergarten and will do it probably every year.  For the record, the better organized and routine the teacher is----  the better my kid does.  

With sensory, my son does better at home than at school and always has.  He is comfortable in his home enviroment and has more control. He is a pleaser when it comes to me which makes it easier at home too.  Colder months are by far the worst for my child as well.  My son has had only one bad day this year (which is a true miracle) and it was . . . right before the holidays.  That is a tough time for lots of kids.  The reason colder months are tougher on my boy is that he needs lots of activity to regulate the sensory issues.  It is obviously more easy and natural in warm months.  So we swim, go to gyms, do obstacle courses, etc. at home.  I get him running, climbing, crawling, doing animal walks, rolling, skipping, and jumping as much as possible.  It has a direct affect on his behavior.  I think it helps all kids too.  My son also needs activity to focas.  

Lastly, running out of the classroom reminds me of a part of sensory.  It is called the "fight or flight" response.  When things feel so bad----  the brain switches into gear and says "get out of hereeeeeee!!!!!!"  It is like an instinct taking over.  The fight part is a tantrum or angry outburst.  My son has had both of these.  

good luck-----  

by benjimom, Jan 15, 2010
Thanks so much for responding.  He went into the restroom by his classroom aslo yesterday and they have supplies for the preschool in there.  He knows there are noodles in there and he was trying to get one to chew on so he says. I may send him with a bag of noodles to chew on when he needs to.  He likes raw noodles, I know strange!!   Sometimes at school he has eaten paper too.  

I wonder if I should have held him back another year. I read though in one book later they all seem to cathc up a few years down the road.

I have heard the holidays make it harder and it's been a cold winter so far.

My son did not know how to read prior, I did not know tht was expected of me to teach him to read.  There are some 6 year olds in the class and she said some already knew how to read prior to coming to school.  

I'm worried about him being "labeled" and then being encouraged to get on a bunch of medications.  I see a therapist myself and she said not to jump into any diagnosis or label and just take our time in diagnosiing him if he does have something, she said he's been through a lot and others need to realize that.  I don't think people always take that into account.

My son seems to respond well to those who are very affectionate and I have never seen this teacher give a hug.  She doesn't seem like the "huggy" type.  I don't think she has ever taught kindergarten before, she taught fourth grade prior.  He goes to a full day program.  At the first of the year she said she was very strict and had raised 4 kids.

He gets frustrated very easily with the work and then he just flies off into a crying fit or something like that. I am concerned he is not learning well.  

The teacher acts like she has never dealt with a student like him.
by specialmom, Jan 15, 2010
His teacher does not sound ideal-----  if she's been teaching for awhile, she has, of course, had a student like him-----  they were just older and did slightly different things.

Good idea with the noodles----  if they don't let him do that, ask about the coffee stirers.  Before school, have him chew a really thick piece of bubble gum too.

Our school has a slightly different philosophy than yours------  a sign reads that if your child comes to kindergarten knowing everything they are going to learn there----  they haven't spent enough time in the sandbox!  I loved that!!  Now, there are kids of all varying degrees of knowledge.  There are wide ranges of this in kindergarten.  And I do think things like reading level out in upcoming years.  My son's class is still working on sight words, letter sounds, and sounding out three letter easy words.  

And I agree, if the emotions and behavior gets in the way at school, learning is impeded.  My son's teacher says that this (behavior) has to be under control for kids to learn so to work on behavior first.  But it is so interrelated if your son is getting upset because he is having difficulty with the work.  It can be a viscious circle.

I'm personally not worried about a label for my son because it helps the school understand where he might be different from other kids and needs a little extra help.  It is confidential. But every parent is different about that.  By the way, my son does not take medication (sensory doesn't respond to any).  We do physical things that help.  Try increasing his physical activity and see if it helps at all.  Have him do crab walks before school or do the wheelbarrow walk with him.  

It definately helps a kid out to feel like their teacher likes them and is on their side!
by benjimom, Jan 15, 2010
I don't think he was expected to be reading, but sometimes it feels like that.  The teacher said he had a little while to learn things and I hate to push things too much.  When prodded he can do things, it's just hard for him and I think it frustrates him where the math is much easier, but I think in general, reading/writing is harder for boys.

He told me tonight he hated the teacher and I told him he still needs to do what she asks even if they don't like each other.  

I got him some spaghetti noodles and he likes to eat those.  I know it's crazy, but he likes it.  Maybe it would relax him some.  I am willing to do anything that works.

Sometimes when he gets frustrated he forgets to use his words and has a meltdown, he starts grunting and groaning, poor guy.  

What characteristics does your son have specialmom??

I heard from one of the EAs at teh school whom I am talking iwth on the outside that they had a boy last year who had a sensory issue and would not listen much, he would roll on the floor sometimes and would not get up.
by specialmom, Jan 16, 2010
Well, sensory can look like many different things.  My son is a sensory seeker----  he craves input into his system.  He'll play intensely.  He bumps into things.  He likes to crash, spin, and jump.  His nervous system tells him to do this stuff.  Before he can do school work ----  doing some of this makes him settle down and be able to focas.  Rolling on the ground is something we do during our playtime to get some sensory input----  that would give him spinning (rolling is side ways spinning), heavy work (pushing his body), and deep pressure (contact with the floor).  My kid also has some tactile defensiveness issues----  things can bug him like tags in his shirts, wet hands (which is weird because he loves to swim and play in sand), high color things, etc.  He was on the go as a little one all the time, he avoided things that were difficult for him, he has trouble visually when lots of stuff is going on-----  like if  a paper has too much stuff on it, it is hard for  him to focas on it, auditory can be an issue-----  things are hard to tune out (outside noise like lawnmower)----- all sound is at the same level), he is impulsive and doesn't always make the best choices.  He has fight or flight when upset.  

Those are some of the things he exhibited.  If sensory is mild, it is sometimes less obvious but still there.  good luck
by benjimom, Jan 16, 2010
My son LOVES heavy hard work, pushing, shoveling, digging, etc. He can work hours in  a sandbox.  He used to love to push carts, anything around the house.  

My son avoids and shuts down and doesn't do difficult things, like if he does not understand something will not do it and gets upset if you make him try.  

He is so funny about shoes, socks, will only wear elastic knit or nylon pants.  Will not wear jeans or khakis, they bother him.  He only wears certain shoes and putting on socks, sometimes he cries out they hurt him.  I have had to cut tags out on some clothes, a lot of clothes come w/out tags now, which is good.

he's funny about brushing his teeth, he does not like his hair to get washed or you to work on his ears.  I have to cut his nails/toenails when he is sleeping now.

He's on the go a lot.  He can be impulsive too.   My son plays intensely too, like I just got him a dollhouse and it's always going thru some natural disaster or fire or someone stealing and damaging the home. Poor house....  

He is very scared of the doctor and shots terrify him.  

When he rides his bikes, he looks for challenges like riding over the snow or a bump.  He likes to go over bumps in the car too.

He used to get really scared of loud noises, that is better, like firecrackers ,etc.

Interesting ......  

He tends to have he most trouble at school in the specials classes, art, music. He loves PE.

by specialmom, Jan 16, 2010
Melissa, your son is my son.  Almost to a tee.  I would consider finding an occupational therapist that has experience with sensory integration disorder (sometimes called sensory processing disorder) and have an evaluation.  Your insurance may cover it-----  it is totally worth it.  If he is diagnosed (or even if you just want ideas)----  we do lots of things that help a lot.  All in the rhealm of easy to do things at home that he thinks are fun . . . but have a direct impact on his nervous system.  It has gotten him from a kid that was falling apart to one who has no issues whatsoever at school.  Like I said----  even if you don't get him evaluated, there are tons of things that you can do that might help.  I'm not a betting person, but your son sounds just like mine so . . . I'm betting he has sensory disorder.  (everyone has sensory issues-----  it is only a disorder if someone can't function.)  

Let me know if I can help.  
by benjimom, Jan 16, 2010
The thing is when he was in the therapist office they said his play was hyperactive, about the norm, would they describe your son like this?  THey felt it was too active, things crashign, etc.  IT's not violent or anything, just active and very intense and imaginative.  But I also think some of that is normal BOY behavior.  I feel like on one can be a kid anymore......

one therapist thinks he has ADHD, another mentioned he might have bipolar b/c dad has bipolar.  Well, he could, but I honestly don't believe he has bipolar, it's usually really bad in kids and not something you would diagnose in a 30 min . session.  Also, a lot of all these illnesses share common characteristics.

Does your son get frustrated easily, mine does nad then he starts to lose it and moans and grunts, etc.  He can't use his words.  Sometimes he will lie on the floor and not get up if he says he is tired, etc.  

Thanks for your insight specialmom, it has helped so MUCH!!