7 year old struggling at school

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pseudo
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7 year old struggling at school

Post by pseudo » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:35 pm

Does anyone else have a child who struggles at/hates school?

DS1 is 7 and in year 2. He absolutely loved his first year of school (reception) but towards the end of the year, he began to dislike it. He absolutely hated year 1 and hates year 2. Last year, early in the year, his teacher thought that he may have an auditory processing issue and so we got testing done. He had a Speech and Language Assessment and an Auditory Processing Assessment. If I'm remembering correctly, he scored in the high average to above average for both but there were no issues with either auditory processing or speech/language issues. He also saw an educational psych. We just had an IQ assessment done by an Educational Psych and he scored in the 94% percentile, so in the top 6%.

He is a really smart kid with an amazing memory and thirst for science. His general knowledge blows most adults out of the water. The issue is that, despite all these results we've had with testing, he struggles with reading and maths at school. To get him to do any homework ends with him in tears and me as frustrated as hell. He will sit for hours and build technical lego sets designed for 16 year olds but refuses to read his home reader or any other reader that he gets. I did buy him some joke books and science type readers and he will read them. He is only on level 19 in reading (lowest in the class). I think the next child above him is on 24 but most are up in the high 20s. I also don't understand how he scored so high on his IQ test but only got 44% on his start of the year maths test. He left almost half of the questions out, without even attempting them.

His teacher says he is a delightful child, popular amongst the other kids, very social, very good at sports and she loves having him in the class but he rarely finishes his work. She says that all the other kids will be working and she will look over at him and he will be still sharpening his pencil and putting his desk in order. The educational psych did say that he is very much a perfectionist and hates getting things wrong - very true - we can be doing his spelling words or other homework and has soon as he makes an error, he goes ballistic, often throws his pencil down and quits. Refuses to go on.

I'm at a loss.
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JennyD
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by JennyD » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:48 pm

sounds very similar to both my boys. They are on the autism spectrum. We were also at a loss in grade 1, but in grade 2 with DS his teacher took me aside and whispered that he was just like here nephew who was autistic. So I went to the GP and asked to see a paediatrician who specialises in learning difficulties. We had seen a paediatrician before but he just didn't get it, this one actually talked to DS and worked out what was wrong. While I'm not saying your DS is on the spectrum, I am suggesting you see a specialist in learning problems, there could be any number of issues going on. the other thing I would be doing is stopping homework, except maybe readers. He doesn't really need it at this stage. Although I would discuss this with the teacher first, a lot of teachers have told me they only set homework for primary kids because the parents want it and they are happy for it not to be done as it doesn't really do anything.

pseudo
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by pseudo » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:56 pm

Thanks for your response Jenny. Even though no one has ever had an inkling that DS might have autism, I did take him to be assessed by a paediatrician and an OT, as well as the psych last year and they said no autism. His year 1 teacher is also the special education teacher and she was never thinking autism either and has worked with kids with autism for many years. The speechie who did his speech and language assessment was surprised that I brought it up with her and as soon as she started testing DS, she asked me why we were there and who suggested we see her.

Would you still recommend looking further into this and, if so, what health professional would you recommend. He doesn't have any of the characteristics aside from the dislike of school.
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by freerange » Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:03 pm

Look up asynchronicity, you can (at any level of iq) be really good in some areas and below in others. If your DS is really 'good' at science etc, he might be 'normal' at maths. This hopefully, means teachers can tailor learning to extend in relevant areas and support in others.

My DS refused readers at the same age, however he could happily read adult (crime) news articles over my shoulder very clearly! With relevant questions :shock: Let him choose his own books from home or library and if he reads them, write them on the reader list. I also got readers at a much higher level for my DS to read. I hid the level cos he wanted to follow the rules, but needed something harder to read as he was bored.

It's very frustrating when they don't like school at that age, but also fairly common :roll:

P.s. Does your DS like to be busy all the time? Having to sit still can cause problems too.

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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by ~WildChild~ » Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:01 pm

I have a 9yo who is average in all areas, a delight at school, but he hates it.
I think to quit homework too, hes only 7. And let him read what he wants to read. What else does the teacher suggest you do?
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by jessles » Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:50 pm

My DD1 is the same age and in yr 2 as well

At her biannual eye test last year it was discovered that she had a bit of an issue with her eyes and her cross-over between right and left. She did some exercises over a 6 week period and the change in her reading etc was remarkable.
She found it hard to see all her friends on higher readers than her.

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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by JennyD » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:10 pm

Hi pseudo, sorry I wasn't so clear. I didn't really mean that I think he is autistic, what I meant is that I would be looking to see a specialist paediatrician. I might offend any paediatricians out there, but the ones we tend to see are like GPs for kids, if you have a tricky problem it helps to see one who specialises in the area that you need. That is why we went to see one who specialises in kids having trouble at school and it worked out well for us. There are so many different problems out there that can make it hard to do well at school, and it sounds like it isn't one of the more common ones, if there is a problem at all. Also sometimes you need to chat with the school and get them to look into helping. I know DSs teachers had trouble with the fact that he was top of the class in maths and bottom of the class in spelling, they just couldn't get their head around it, now he is in high school it doesn't matter as he has different teachers and his english teacher doesn't have to cope with the fact that he is in the top maths class.
Hope that helps

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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by pseudo » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:17 pm

Thanks everyone. BIL is an opthamolgist and we get two yearly eye exams. His vision is normal. I even took him to one of those non evidence based eye tests with a behavioural optometrist on the advice of his teacher last year and that was normal too. BIL was horrified that we did that but it was more to appease his teacher.

Because all of his testing has been normal, the teacher now believes it is his choice so makes him stay in to complete work and miss play times.
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by ~WildChild~ » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:28 pm

pseudo wrote: Because all of his testing has been normal, the teacher now believes it is his choice so makes him stay in to complete work and miss play times.
That's not going to be helping him at all. I'd hate school too if I was made to miss out on the fun bits :? :roll:
What's your gut saying? Do you think there is a learning issue? Would you consider home schooling?
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by Gwen's Mum » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:49 pm

On phone so quick response - but your description of your DS could be reframed to be less about "what's wrong with him?" and more about "what is it about the school system that makes an intelligent and interested kid appear a 'failure' in certain aspects?". Everyone learns differently, and some mold to the shape and process of a school environment - and others don't. I wonder if there arebsome alternatives for your DS - e.g. Extension work in the areas he enjoys, just keeping an eye on the reading etc, and giving him time to catch up? He may just not be ready for reading yet.

(Not trying to trivialise your concerns either, pseudo, or others' suggestions - just trying to offer a different take on the scenario iykwim?)
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by Penguin » Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:08 pm

I also don't understand how he scored so high on his IQ test but only got 44% on his start of the year maths test. He left almost half of the questions out, without even attempting them.
That's possibly part of the answer - he didn't attempt them.

Can I ask what test his IQ was assessed on?

Has he ever described school as 'hard and boring'?

If homework is a battle, my advice would be to not do it. You're well within your rights to refuse to do it, and if it's causing problems then let it go. Aside from regular reading, the evidence that there is any benefit to doing homework in primary school is sketchy at best. As far as reading goes - enjoyable reading trumps painful reading any day. If you didn't know what level he was on, would you be worried about his reading?

Also, what GM said. I'm far from convinced that the problem lies with him, more likely the school/ system that isn't meeting his needs (just from what you've said here).
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by Ronale » Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:11 pm

With the reading, I was told by a wise lady once that you need to find something they are actually interested in and then they will read. It really sounds a bit like Gwen's mum has suggested, and it's not so much that there is something wrong with your DS, but rather that school is less than interesting. Sometimes schools are great at sorting out the kids who need help, but not so great at helping those who know a bit to learn in a way that challenges them without actually making them feel like they know nothing. Are you able to do some extension activities at home that interest him, and encourage him to learn things like reading and maths while doing science? Or give him things to read that he wants to read - if that's comic books and science readers, it's a book and he is reading. Maybe he could have a special project to learn more about something he really likes? Go to the library and help him find some books to read, then he could make a poster or something about the thing and present it to the family. That's reading and writing while doing science... If you find he responds well to these kinds of challenges then it might be worth talking with the school about how they are teaching him, and some alternate options for him
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by JennyD » Wed Apr 08, 2015 10:25 pm

As his IQ is high, maybe find him some interesting chapter books, something by Emily Rhodda or Rold Dahl, they are great fun to read and a child of 7 who is interested could learn to read really quickly with them. Back to DS again, he didn't read until DD showed him Emily Rhodda and suddenly from bottom of the class with all English, he was reading chapter books and if assessed would have moved up quite a bit. It could easily be boredom, but keeping him in isn't going to help, the teacher needs to catch his interest, not force it.

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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by s squirrel » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:47 am

I know somebody who didn't read well until year nine, when their teacher took the effort to find out their interests and got them books just on those subjects.
They haven't stopped reading since.
I know that when I was younger, sometimes in tests I wouldn't answer a question unless I was 100% sure that I knew the answer. My small child theory was better to not answer it, and have the possibility that I may have got it right, rather than to have answered, and got it wrong and to have it proven, that I was wrong.... IYKWIM??
Random child logic at it's best :smt043

Just a thought.... and I wouldn't say I was a perfectionist by any means, but looking back maybe I had tendencies that way :lol:
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Re: 7 year old struggling at school

Post by Bailey's Mum » Thu Apr 09, 2015 7:37 am

All 3 of my boys are ASD, and at least one has other issues as well. He is my brightest child, and in his early schooling years, we put it down to giftedness, and didn't have him assessed for anything else. He couldn't be assessed for giftedness because he had significant processing deficits, which is how his ASD was recognised. No one, not even the psych who did the ADOS, thought he would be on the spectrum. He refused to read home readers, because he could read chapter books in his first year of schooling. However, he has very poor comprehension. So he can read a 300 page novel, but can't tell you what happened at the end of each page, even though he is reading it perfectly. He has just had ADHD/ODD added to his alphabet soup.

Not that I'm saying get another ADOS done. But, like JennyD, I'd say find a developmental paed, and have a full assessment done. I'm thinking I'd be checking for dyslexia (letter AND number), Irlen, visual processing (that usually requires a behavioural optometrist), and any other processing deficits. I hang out a lot in ASD support groups, and there are SO many other conditions which affect learning as well, right down to pyrrole disorder (a vitamin deficiency). I'm not throwing armchair diagnoses at you, I promise, just listing some of the many things I have seen and heard about through my own experiences which can affect the way little ones learn.

Is he a sensory kid? Does he either seek or avoid sensory stimulation? Sensory processing disorder (which is where all of my kids started their journey to diagnosis) can affect processing via any of the senses, not just auditory. So visual processing (we did a lot of work with my DS2 on this one, as jessles mentioned), etc.

My oldest was diagnosed APD and SPD at 4, and then "upgraded" to ASD at 8. He has significant processing deficits and this was very evident in his NAPLAN - he would not attempt any question he did not know he would get correct. Like The Squirrel. So with maths, he really, really struggles. His year 3 NAPLAN, he only completed about 20% of the entire thing, and so his results were very poor. However, that was at the same time he was diagnosed, and his psych pointed out his processing deficit, so we have spent the last three years working on scaffolding his processing skills, and his year 5 NAPLAN last year was incredibly different, and a much more accurate reflection of his ability.

My youngest has also just been diagnosed. It took me a few years to decide to have it done (mainly because of cost - we paid over $1500 for each assessment in the ACT), but eventually I couldn't avoid it. I can't work out how much of his behaviour is learned from his brothers, and how much is him. But the paed (this time, a developmental/behavioural paed) agreed it was likely, and the ADOS was overwhelming.

I also have experience (albeit nearly 20 years ago :shock:) teaching kids with learning difficulties. I had a class of year 9 boys who were functionally illiterate, and my job was to teach them English (with no training, btw - it was a timetable filler for me :shock: ). Several students could not even write their own names :cry: While these days, most of them would have, or would be sent for, diagnosis of some kind, back then it was mostly put down to behaviour. However, over the course of the year, with the help of the learning support teacher, we were able to clearly identify that 90% of those boys had some kind of learning difficulties, and had just been "written off" over the years as bad behaviour. I could see that happening to my DS3, too, and that's why we had him assessed.

DS4 is having some issues in prep (our first year of schooling), which is why we had him tested. And I'm really glad we did - he has access to support now, and that means he's not going to be left to flounder, but the school and the teacher can make any necessary adjustments so that he is able to access the curriculum fairly.

Sorry this is rambly - I'm trying to get ready for work, with 3 ASD kids on school holidays. It's like herding cats in a rainstorm! :lol: Just wanted to say there are SO many things that can affect the way our kids learn, and it's worth ruling them out at the very least.
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