My six-year-old kindergartener has trouble sitting in his seat and paying attention in his school. His teacher reports that he will talk to himself under his breath during instruction time, get up out of his chair and dance or jump around. She has moved his desk to the back corner of the classroom because of this. She believes he has ADHD “like her brother and her husband” so I think she goes easy on him, which doesn’t help.
He often is picking up on the instruction even while doing this, and can complete his work as needed, but he has days where he cannot do the work, which is when we will get notes home that he “refuses to complete his work”. I ask him what happened and he tells me he didn’t know what to do.
We see him talking/jumping/dancing to himself too at home some - he likes to tell stories to himself, especially when he’s not interested in what is going on around him.
My question is - 1. How do I break the habit so it’s not an issue at home or school? 2. What should I communicate to the teacher? She just let’s him dance and jump around because she says she’s fine with kids moving, but it’s obviously disruptive enough that she’s moved his desk. She does not have a very authoritative tone - she is 22, and this is her first year teaching. The authoritative approach is important for our six year old - he does not listen to niceties.
We have been nipping disobedient behaviors in the bud with him recently through the “go to bed immediately after dinner strategy.” It seems to be an effective strategy- but we just came off a 2 week period where we stripped his room and he went to bed every night right after dinner due to disobedience. He is already a much happier and more secure kid, but do we do this again for this behavior? Or something else?
How do I extend this strategy into this dancing/hopping/talking to himself behavior at school?
Thank you for reaching out to Parent Guru. As I read your question, I noted several positive comments. You state that your son is "picking up on the instruction" and "can complete his work as needed." Additionally, you also note that following your implementation of a behavior strategy (at home) to address disobedience, your son is "already a much happier and more secure kid."
Other statements indicate some inconsistencies. For example, I'm assuming the teacher is the one who indicated that your son is often "picking up on instruction and completes his work as needed" but that he also "has days where he cannot do the work." On those days you say that notes are sent home informing you that he "refuses to complete his work." There may definitely be times when a kindergarten student "cannot" do a task or doesn't understand what to do (as your son confirmed to you). Not being able to do a task, or not understanding what to do, is not the same as refusing to do it.
You also share that your son's desk was moved to the back corner of the classroom because he talks "under his breath during instruction time" and will "get up out of his chair and dance or jump around." Later you note that the teacher allows him dance and jump around because "she's fine with kids moving."
A former elementary school teacher, and later administrator, I found the first year of teaching to be the most difficult with managing student behaviors the most challenging area. This may be true for your son's teacher.
You do not indicate what strategies the teacher is using other than sending notes home and moving your son's desk to the back corner. If the approach is not working (which it doesn't seem to be) then a different approach is in order. Children respond best to clear expectations and structure. Teachers must convey those expectations with an authoritative tone that leaves the students with no doubt that they mean what they say.
If you noted a happier, more secure child after effectively implementing a strategy at home, I would think the same could be accomplished at school. Meeting with your son's teacher to discuss an in-class plan that includes clear, specific expectations and consequences is in order. Your son needs to know that his teacher and parents are on the same page regarding behavior expectations. With young children, parents and teachers working together can be highly effective and greatly benefit the child. Consistency is key.
I hope this has been helpful. I wish you the best with your little one.
Sharon Lamberth, CPLC
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