Are expectations proper for dawdling son?


Our two children attend a Montessori school and are both still in primary classrooms. This is my son’s third year, and he will bridge to lower elementary at the end of the school year. My son was born with a cleft palate and his speech has improved tremendously; however, I truly believe his inability to communicate well with others until the age of 4 (in which he could be understood) has had an impact on him socially. Academically he is ready to move to elementary but I was truly thankful for another year in the primary classroom where he could continue to learn but also build social skills, and as one of the older children in the room, be a classmate/friend who helped the younger ones. I have so many different questions I want/need to ask about him but the most pressing for me right now regards his ability to get his various works done during the school day. I wouldn’t have even necessarily been alerted to the situation but in late November his guides mentioned he started acting somewhat different in the classroom (e.g. easily frustrated with others (e.g. someone wasn’t listening to him, someone wasn’t being kind, someone didn’t want his assistance with a work), that he would easily cry, and that he wasn’t focusing as well and being as productive. We hoped that Thanksgiving break would help him reset but when it didn’t, we looked to Christmas break. While he definitely isn’t as frustrated and easily upset, he is still unable to focus well and complete many works. For example, it can take him a day to do two relatively easy works, or two days to do one challenging work. The guides know him well and know this isn’t a situation in which the work is too hard; rather it is his focus and motivation. We did make a change in January in which he now has a work schedule and needs to complete works each day in a certain number of categories. This isn’t just for him though; all the children bridging to lower elementary have started one, but I hoped that maybe it would be a tool that would help him. I have had many conversations about the situation with my son and he will provide reasons such as boredom, that he wants to talk with his friends, to the fact something is too challenging and takes him a long time to complete. But ultimately those are all excuses (or not true) and he knows my expectation and things just aren’t changing. I’ve had some close friends wonder aloud if he perhaps has ADHD or whether the Montessori method just isn’t for his style of learning. I understand those are valid reasons that could make Montessori not be the best option for a child, but the change has been so recent after several years at the school. I’m just not sure how to approach this with my son. One of his guides suggests working on setting a bar (starting fairly low) and encouraging through positive reinforcement/reward such as a trip to the library or special 1:1 time with dad or mom. I think that is wise but of course part of me wants to start taking away his outside activities he loves, having him do works outside of his classroom (to remove distraction), or having him come home half day and just work with me for the afternoon. I know he is young and I’m not worried about him academically, but his behavior is what bothers me and is something I worry that I need to address (now). He is a very social child and I’m not trying to change that aspect of him, but I do want to help him understand when that time is appropriate and when we need to focus on learning. Putting all of these expectations on him feels very non-Montessori and of course I pray it is a phase and it will pass, but I feel as though I need some outside, experienced perspective and some good approaches for how to address this. The last thing I want to do is destroy his desire be at school and learn. Thank you!

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