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6 year old is scared of learning "new things" at school

Please, help!  My 6 years old daughter is a first grader, and while her teacher has no complaints about her academically, she constantly complains about her behavior.  First, my girl becomes very concerned when new material being introduced, and keeps asking "is it going to be hard?".  She also freaks out and makes a scene when she does not get it, or is doing something wrong.  Also the teacher is complaining that she is unable to work independently on class work, and keep asking if she is doing things right.  She does her homework by herself at home, almost always right, and I almost never help her!  She also is making "strange noises" in class (never observed at home or elsewhere, not sure what they mean).  I got a letter from school to meet with Student Assistance Committie which is principal, teacher, councelor and speach teacher.  What should I do?  How do I talk to them?  I am scared they will label my child with some learning disability like they tried to do when she went to kindergarten at that school.  We promptly removed her to a private kindergarten and she was one of the best students there, and everyone loved her.  Now our public school ordeal continues!
6 Responses
13167 tn?1327197724
First,  I would think you would want to have kept her in the private school where she was doing so well.  Is there a reason she had to be removed back to a school where she wasn't succeeding?

Secondly,  go in and act strong,  yet concerned.    Make it clear that both you and the school want her to succeed,   and you're willing to work together on that.  Try as hard as you can to not sound defensive - but express surprise because she doesn't act like this at home nor did she appear to act this way in private school,  and ask if there might be triggers that you can work on with her.  

I will say,  as frustrating as this is for you,  I don't think they're lying about what she's doing.  It may be that the private school actually liked this behavior of checking and re-checking that she was doing well,  and they might see that often in students there.
Avatar universal
I suspect strongly that this is anxiety.  I don't think it is severe or even moderate anxiety, but the difficulty in learning and the making of noises are behaviours of anxiety.  She probably becomes so "worried or anxious" that these constant thoughts take precedence in her mind thus making it very difficult to concentrate on the teacher's instruction.  By the way, if the brain has to choose between cognitive thoughts or emotional thoughts, it will choose emotional every time.  It is the way people are wired.  I  suspect there are other behaviours of anxiety that you have not thought to mention or the school has not yet noticed.  And, of course, your daughter does not show these behaviours at home - home is the safe environment; school is the perceived unsafe environment.  As for the "noises" - the body becomes so tensed that these sounds act as a release of stress - your daughter probably is not aware she is making them.

Please google phrases as "anxiety and school" or "behaviors of anxiety in children" or "how to help an anxious child" or similar words/phrases.  RockRose is correct - please don't act defensively with the school; they're only trying to figure out how best to help her.  Maybe, by the end of this week-end (if you get a lot of reading done) you will be able to help the school help your daughter.  There is so much information on the internet and in bookstores re this topic.  Anxiety is very common (genetically based) and your daughter, with help, will learn how to manage her fears.  All the best ....
Avatar universal
People on the forums here suggested we were dealing with anxiety and "selective mutism", and offered us a plan of action.  It worked!  

danish46 - I clicked on your name and found some older postings you had made.  I copied the above sentences from a previous posting of yours a year or so ago.  You already know the problem - anxiety and selective mustism (which is a severe form of social anxiety).  Anxiety is a life issue; it does not go away but can be managed.  Obviously, you know what worked in the private school - these same methods will need to be used in the public system.  By  the way, the noises your daughter is making is only a short step away from "mutism" at school.  She still is not severe in her anxiety but - as I said before - you know the problem and you know how to deal with it.  All the best ...
Avatar universal
Yes, I know that her noises are conneccted to anxiety, and it took a loving and caring kindergarten teacher just one month to earn her trust and have her completely confident and relaxed in class.  It has been almost 4 months since she started a first grade, and she still doesn't feel completely comfortable in class, I wonder what is going on.  I even asked her kindergarten teacher to call her present teacher (and he did) and share the ideas on how to deal with this anxiety in class, but I don't think this teacher is applying his methods, or maybe she is not willing to.  Maybe it's just easier to move my daughter to special aid class with the disabled children or sweep her under the rug forever.  Her grades are good, she is one of the best readers, she is talking to kids and to teachers, and very social - no mutism whatsoever.  I have no idea what is causing her anxiety and why is she so worried about not being able to learn "new things", and why is she constantly asking for help. She loves her new teacher and loves the school, why is she still anxious?
Avatar universal
I wouldn't remove her from a private school if they had a first grade, unfortunately they don't, the higest grade is kindergarten.  
Thank you for the support, and yes, you are right, at private school they didn't mind having a perfectionist in class, but here they do.
Avatar universal
I have no idea what is causing her anxiety and why is she so worried about not being able to learn "new things", and why is she constantly asking for help. She loves her new teacher and loves the school, why is she still anxious?   --  your words

Anxiety is an inherited trait - there does not have to be a "reason" why she is worried.  It's just the way she is.  And, one of the behaviours of anxiety is difficulty in learning (as well as perfectionism) in an environment which your daughter perceives to be "unsafe".  I suspect you are correct - your daughter's teacher this year is not as nurturing or as caring as the one she had last year.  And frankly, speaking as a retired teacher, that is not her job.  It is up to the parents to "instruct" the teacher on how to work with a child who has an emotional disability (and anxiety is an invisible disability).  Teachers understand "learning" disabilities but not emotional disabilities or mental disabilities or physical disabilities.  These disabilities are in the realms of medicine; not education.

Our granddaughter also loved her school and teacher but it was several years before she was able to feel "comfortable" in that environment.  If this gets worse, you may need to contact a professional for advice on how best to help  your daughter (and I'm not talking medication or therapy) - just "ways" that the school and the parents can help your daughter.

Frankly, I think your daughter is doing fine - anxiety takes a long time to "manage" - and I'm talking years, not weeks or months.  Patience, understanding and education should help.  One thing that many parents of children who suffer anxiety do is to ask their doctor (usually a child psychologist or another specialist in anxiety issues) to speak to the school staff on how best to help the child.  Otherwise, this task belongs to the parents - not the school.  Not fair - but that's how it is.  All the best ...
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13167 tn?1327197724
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