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3 days into first grade and I already got a request from the teacher for a conference

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  • My youngest son, Ryan (he will be 6 on 9/24) is the sweetest boy. He is very affectionate. He is also very bright - got top grades academically in kindergarten and ahead of the class in math significantly. Behaviorally is another ballgame.

    He isn't malicious but he has trouble sitting still (fidgets and so forth but doesn't wander around the room). He can get distracted fairly easily also but completes his work. My eldest son, Matty (8 1/2 years old and in 3rd grade) is the model student. He has that need to please and aversion to getting into trouble at all costs which Ryan lacks.

    I have talked to Ryan, I have tried rewarding good behavior, we punish him for bad behavior by taking away privileges and toys but nothing seems to get through to him. I changed the after-school routine for the boys to allow for more outside playtime to blow off steam. His intentions are good but he does not modify his behavior. Once censored by the teacher he will go to all different lengths to avoid having that note home - he remembers the consequences after the act.

    I have to meet with this teacher today. I am embarrassed and my husband is just getting angry at this point and will do whatever it takes to have Ryan change his ways. The last two evenings at home have been a living hell.

    Help!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KathleenSD on 11th September 2008
  • He may just have an attention disorder. My cousin was the same way when we started school. He was smart and got great grades, he just had trouble sitting still for very long. My aunt finally took him in and found out he was hyperactive. They gave him a low dose of an ADHD medicine. He was perfectly fine after that. He didn't need it after the first 2 or 3 years. You may want to ask your pediatrician about it. Sometimes kids do things and it really isn't their fault. It's just something in the chemical balance of things that they can't fix. I hope you can have some peace at home soon.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 11th September 2008
  • Yes, it could be an attention disorder, but I wouldn't be so quick to diagnose or medicate. It could be many other things including just a neurally normal kid on the more active end of the range. School has just started and first grade can be a big change from kindergarten. It may take your son longer to adapt to the new routine. I'd take things step by step and ask a lot of questions along the way. I don't want to be too negative about meds, they help a lot of kids, but it's a big step to take.

    Start with talking to the teacher about points in the day where your son can have a wiggle break. Ask her what kinds of fidgeting would be acceptable. There are sensory tools that can be brought into the classroom to help kids release energy and focus without being too much of a distraction. Can you wrap a big rubber band around his front chair legs for him to bounce his feet against (quietly, of course)? A very low profile idea is to put an inch or so long piece of medical grade tubing on the eraser end of his pencil for him to chew on. Your teacher may have good ideas from past students as well.

    Is there a specific time of the day he most tends to lose focus? After lunch, during reading, etc. That can give you clues as to what's going on and how to best help him. Maybe it's the subject he's having trouble with. Or he's really smart in it and is bored with the work. Or he's sleepy after a big lunch. Or hungry because it's almost lunch.

    Food: Look at his diet in relation to his behavior. Does he seem less focused after eating certain foods? The Feingold diet may be a good place to look for dietary changes. They do charge a fee but your public library probably has the book so you can determine if this is a good path for you.

    Also work in good sensory foods: suck applesauce through a straw, munch pretzle rods, marshmallows, raw carrots, things that take work to eat. A google search can give you a good start. I think there's also a sensory group here so you can check with those ladies for help. Pack good sensory foods in his lunch or serve before and after school.

    Activity: don't just let him run, give him what is called "heavy work." Have him help carry the grocery bags in from the car. Or push a laundry basket full of stuff around the floor. Swinging is also good. Make a kid taco with a blanket. Again, google sensory heavy work and you'll get a good list of ideas. Look into swimming lessons, karate, yoga, or tumbling for after school activities. If your son has low muscle tone, he could not have strong enough ab muscles to make it through a day.

    It's funny, this is my day for sensory learning info. At the park we were talking about kids moving to be able to learn. A friend told about how her son's OT recommended practicing spelling words while stomping in a figure eight pattern. One letter per stomp. And in the movie about the girl champion speller, she jumped rope to learn spelling. Then in my hometown paper there was an article about a teacher designing stand up desks for her class. The desks are adjustable and have stools with wiggle bars so kids can choose to stand, or sit throughout the day. And now there's your question, which is causing me to write a novel. This stuff is good for everyone.

    Another things that's good for everyone but most used for sensory kids is a program called the alert method or system. I think the book is called "How Does Your Engine Run?" I'll look it up and report back. Basically everyone has an internal engine. You want it to run appropriate to the situation so you're not figeting in church or dozing at soccer. The book helps you teach your son how to read his engine and choose activities that will get him running appropriate to the situation.

    Good luck! Feel free to contact me offline for more details on any of this stuff. My daugher had over a year of ot therapy for mild sensory integration so I've got pages of this stuff. I'm not trying to diagnose your kid. But lots of this SI stuff works for everyone. Some people instinctively know how to adjust their internal mechanisms to make it through their day. Others need to learn the tricks.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jenns on 11th September 2008
  • Jens post is full of great information, I would also suggest you google Brain Gym there are alot of ideas on helping kids who need to wiggle --not ADD but just need to move around a bit more. Good luck.

    Clare W
    www.MyHomeCottageBiz.com
    Supplemental Income Ideas for Families
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MyHomeCottageBiz -- Clare Willi on 17th September 2008
  • I completely understand what you're going through. My oldest, who is also named Ryan, experienced the same things. Fidgeting, lack of respect for authority, etc.. The first thing that I did was have him tested for Gifted (a class for exceptionally bright kids). His IQ came back high enough to enroll and that gave him an outlet to have advanced work at least one day a week. Behavior issues continued and eventually the principal of my son'e elementary school gave me an option: place him in an EH(emotionally handicapped) class or suspension for the rest of the school year. I was mortified, but agrred to place him in the EH class. His behavior immediatley started to change. He became someione the othe students could look up to which in turn caused him to be more aware of his behavior and his audience. Next, he began seeing a child psychologist 2x a month, where he was very much able to open up and share his thoughts and feelings. Through these sessions, the psychologist determined that he did suffer from a behavioral disorder ODD and that Ryan seemed to lack that one second needed to make better judgement calls. He was given a prescription for Trilaptil and now has been completely mainstreamed back into a regular classroom!! In fact his teacher todl me the other day that he reads on a 10th grade level (he's in 5th) and that he is the most advacned student in her class!!

    I am not saying that your son has a behaviorial disorder, just that you have several options that you can check out. Good lucjk!!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Nena on 17th September 2008
  • I totally understand what everyone above is going through. Just last week my son was finally diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD (or ADD). He wasn't the obvious hyperactive (more a daydreamer and just sat there) ADHD and we couldn't pin it down for quite a while and he is almost 9 years old. What finally got us to take him to a child psychiatrist was his summer school teacherwho recognizes children with ADD (she has one herself).

    What I didn't realize and didn't pay much attention to was him waking up during the night. I didn't realize that he did it every night. The child psychiatrist stated that this was a sign of ADD.

    Since we didn't want to do medications, I am currently trying a supplement to help him sleep through the night called Relax-a-saurus which has L-theanine. It works and his behavior has much improved. I also have had him on fish oil for a while which helped some (before the diagnosis as I was suspecting from a couple of years ago) but it wasn't enough. We also have him on a behavior program and since I started him on the L-theanine, he finally reached his one week reward today (after three weeks of trying)

    Good luck to you!

    Jerilyn
    How Do I Raise My Child?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by jeri on 28th September 2008
  • Yikes. Sounds like a normal, active 6-year-old. I am a public school teacher... I wouldn't be too quick to give meds, but that's just me. I would explore other options/explanations first.

    Interesting note from Jeri about the sleeping thing. My cousin (age 6) used to be the biggest behavior problem despite his near-genius IQ. His pediatrician finally sent him to a sleep clinic, where they discovered that due to sleep apnea, he was only getting about 2-3 hours of sleep per night! I would be a nightmare too if I only got that amount of sleep! Now that they have taken care of that problem, he is a much, much happier child.

    Good luck!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mom2Rylie on 7th October 2008
  • My older son was the same way, fooling around, not toeing the line..and he's turned out to be an amazing kid. I'm with Mom2Rylie--he might just be an active, healthy, excited kid (as was mine!). I was lucky that he had a teacher, early on, who said a) he's active b) he's excited about being in class c) he seems fine d) he's very bright e) he's very sensitive and f) don't worry. He did need to learn to stay in line when he was supposed to stay in line, and to not poke his buddies in class, and to not get up and wander around..but..remember these guys are 6! and this is a whole new world for them (and yes, my son was a fulltime daycare kid). I found, and every child is different, that you catch more flies with honey..(okay, so call it bribery : )). We had a chart with smiley face stickers and one thing to work on at a time (like keeping your hands to yourself). Once he'd reach a certain # of stickers, he got a reward- with a slightly bigger one when we felt his new behaviour was ingrained. We partnered with his teacher so we had good insights into how his day REALLY went and she helped support keeping the changes positive, not punitive. We've fallen back on that method a few times with various things and it's worked great for us.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by OliveMartini on 22nd October 2008
  • I think that most first grade boys have trouble sitting still. I think it even continues as they get older. I think that having a conference with his teacher is a good idea. You can both make sure that you have the same expectations.

    Hopefully he has some time for recess so that he can have time to run and burn off energy. If he can learn to understand that recess is a free time he may be able to come back in and focus on his work.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by NoVaMom on 7th November 2008

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