Where do we go from here.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Hello, board friends. Any comments/insights welcome...

    I went to see J's teacher today. He says:

    J only learns when he receives one to one attention. The rest of the time, when the others in his class (4 girls) are working by themselves, J is walking around his chair, touching things, amusing himself in other ways. His attention span is very short, says teacher - five minutes at most. He is learning to read, but at a much slower pace than his classmates. He does not seem to have dyslexic-type problems. He seemed good at maths at the beginning of the year but does not seem to understand groups of 10 and higher numbers, etc. The teacher says he just accepts that J is "like that" and leaves him to his own devices much of the time... The teacher says he could not say whether J would learn better if he were more interested in what he is learning. He showed me a picture that J had done. The exercise was to copy the work of an abstract painting that resembled the pieces of a puzzle - the other children had faithfully followed this instruction whereas J had just scribbled around the picture (in a way that was not unattractive) in a style quite unrelated to what he was "supposed" to be doing. The teacher repeated several times (though not nastily) that J does not "listen".

    I face decisions.
    1. Stay where we are and see if things somehow improve.
    2. Take J out of school soon and go to Morocco where he could go to a small private school (I went to visit it when we were there at Christmas) based on the French programme. He could go into the lower class than the one he is at present and really work on the basics of reading. We then either stay in Morocco or come back here to the village where he go begin his current school year again. My fear is that if he is just left to his own devices he will fall further and further behind on the basics of reading.
    3. Take a sideways leap into an alternative school in France, which would have to involve moving.

    I feel this is a fundamental time and J is, according to the teacher, "wasting" most of his time in school. At the tender age of six... Will he ever fit into the conventional system? Is the structure in fact good for him, even if he does not seem to take advantage of it? If I can't answer these questions close up, maybe no-one else can from a distance but...
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi there. Hmmmph! She's talking about my (and your) cute little J. here.

    Ok, this is my take on it.

    J. probably has some learning differences which would have been diagnosed and dealt with in possibly any other developed country except France, where everybody has to learn the same way. The problem is, all kids can not learn the same way. I would not be surprised if J's IQ was higher than many kids who are able to do the copycat routine better than him. Is it possible he didn't copy the stuff because he couldn't? I can't copy things. I tend to do them backwards (I am not dyslexic) and have no eye for any sort of art, including copying letters a certain way. No choice but to do them MY way. My guess is that J is falling behind not because he is willfully deciding not to listen, but because the work, given the way it is taught in his school, is too confusing or hard for him (or both). But I don't think it is because J. is a slow learner. You can not fit a square peg into a round hole and expect results, but you can fit a square peg into a square peg. You just need to find his learning style and see why he is having trouble and help him. I'm shocked at how little help there is there for children like J. I don't know if it is any different in Morocco. Is it? Whatever happened to the UK option? I can't say I'm an expert on the UK, but that country seems more flexible and open to differences so perhaps they are more open in the learning area too?

    J. , from all you've told us, J. is a bright, capable little boy in the wrong setting, and the school will not help him. It is frustrating for me to read about it. If he learns best one-on-one then why not let him learn one-on-one? Do they have helpers in the classroom?
  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Okay, I do know some wont agree with me but I do think this is a time he needs to be learning at least how to learn. I think you need to work on this. J isnt doing well with what he is doing and very soon, if he doesnt already understand it, he is going to figure out that he is not like the others and he will start to feel that he is either bad or dumb. You want to avoid that at all costs.

    This is where Im not entirely sure a small dose of a stimulant wouldnt help him. The walking around his desk without one on one attention is classic ADHD.

    However, since you are against this, I think you need to find a school that can work for him. Personally I do think he really does need to learn these skills at this age. Im not entirely sure what skills they are trying to teach him but if he were in the US, he would have to know (I think he is in kindergarten right) all his alphabet's in upper and lower case and their sounds. We have a sight word list they have to know before passing on to first grade. Im not entirely sure what the math requirements are because I wasnt around for kindergarten. I do know more of what Keyana can do in the middle of first grade though. She can read pretty fluently small words. It shocked me. I handed her a book and she read it to me without much help. She can add and subtract. I didnt get to actually do much with her so I dont know much but as she is with me more I will know more.

    Maybe tutors would help J.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    And J is going to sit there looking at the rediculousness of the whole exercise.
    been there done that.
    (two generations, multiple people... )

    Problem #1... the kid is smarter than the teacher.
    Problem #2... the kid has subtle learning differences, and the teacher only has one way to teach.

    Unfortunately, none of the options offered are ideal nor address these two problems.

    J does need to learn how to learn in school.
    Present approach isn't working... but taking a random stab in the dark may not work either.

  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    J is in the equivalent of your first grade (because here classes are organised by year of birth; born in December 2006, he is the youngest in the class and if in the UK would be in the class below...) so he is learning to read. He knows all the letters now, can recognise simple sounds but not more complex ones (says the teacher). Teacher says when he has one to one attention he learns quickly and well and remembers what he has learnt. Teacher didn't seem moved by or interested in notion that maybe J could learn in a different way... he's a nice enough guy (teacher) but really seems to have written J off already, at the age of six!! Crazy. Seemed to feel J would always have difficulties... though he is so clearly bright and curious and (to me) asks very intelligent questions. Parents are always biased of course.
    Stab in the dark, yes, but the stabs in the light are really not working well, seems to me.
  6. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Malika -

    I agree that you are describing "classic ADHD" behaviors. You are basically describing my DS at that age!

    It sounds like he IS learning...he's just behind his peers right now.

    in my humble opinion - J is the youngest in his class, chronologically and probably developmentally as well. (This was my DS, too...) If you have the option of holding him back a year, then next year he will be the oldest in his class. This is what we did with my son. At such an early age, there is no shame in repeating a grade to "catch up" a bit.

    As J grows and matures, you should see steady improvement in learning to manage his ADHD - with or without medication. You just need to give him time...and not worry so much about what his classmates are doing.

  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    If you have nothing else to go on but the gut feel that the current situation isn't working... then I would tend NOT to go to an alternative school in France. JMO, but... less of a "leap" to go to French-based school in Morocco. Plus he gets the advantage of being culturally acceptable, which may help the social situation.

    But that's just my opinion from the other side of the big pond...
  8. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    What everyone knows:
    1. J is intelligent, creative, funny and a little boy.
    2. He is in an academic environment where he is expected to be more focused than he is and preferably less independently active than he is.
    3. If he is hyperkinetic it will not go away. It is what it is. medications (for those who accept them) can help a child focus and conform to the peer group but it does not change the child. Some people chill out in the teens and others, like my GFGmom remain the same into their fifties.
    4. All children similar to J do best in a stable environment. Morocco may be a great place for him to grow up but going for a year or less and then moving again ??? would be like tempting fate with RADlike triggers.
    5. Boys and girls are different and often learn differently. I've probably visited fifty or more classrooms and the girls are most often sitting quietly while a couple of boys are breaking the rules.

    Whatever choices you make everyone will know it was with J's best interests at heart. DDD
  9. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    #3. Duckie learns a little differently but benefited greatly from being in a placement that worked with her and not against her. It sounds to me like the alternative school offers J the best chance to learn and not end up feeling badly about himself.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    You've got it, TM. It "ain't" what we anticipated but you do what you have to do. DDD
  11. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    J is being victim of a bad teacher. By bad, I mean: only knows how to teach one way, accomodations is a foreign word. Letting him to his own device is NOT accomodating him. It's giving up. Regardless of the school system, it always boils down to the school teacher and his/her abilities to teach a variety of children.
    Whatever you decide, I think you will have to stick to it for a while (several years), going back and forth would do more harm than good. At least, it is my feeling. It makes the decision even harder.
    Can you make a list of necessary accomodations? Then read this list and discuss it with all 3 alternatives: current school, alternate school and French school in Marocco.
    Their response to it (or lack of response) should tell you a lot. No matter the school, I doubt J will get 1 on 1 teaching all the time. Maybe, choose the system that offers the higher 1 on 1 time.
    as a side note, MWM, I would appreciate you not belittle my country. Specially when you know nothing about it. France is not perfect but neither is the US. And believe me, everyday I live through the American imperfections and yet don't make xenophobic shortcuts. Please be considerate in your posts.
  12. TeDo

    TeDo CD Hall of Fame

    I agree with the others. This school situation isn't working for him and I can only see it getting worse. Some kids are not ready to go to school at exactly age 5. Here in the states, we have the option to wait an extra year. I thin it would help J tremendously if he were in the grade lower. You've talked about moving back to Morrocco before and I think maybe the "signs" that you should are piling up. Moving can't hurt if it will get him the kind of educaitonal setting he needs and it would also help with the "heritage" piece as well. I think the signs are pointing you in the direction you need to go. Personally, I would go. That's jmho for whatever you think it's worth. Falling farther behind IS going to damage his self-esteem at some point and coming from one who's been there (with difficult child 1), you don't want that to happen.
  13. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree with-Insane, on #2, the differences are subtle, and the teacher only knows one way to teach.

    My difficult child is doing NILD, at the age of 16. Oh, how I wish we could have done it at your son's age! It's very expensive. They use puzzles, among other things. First they have you look at the puzzle and put it together on its own grid/outline so it's obvious. Then they have you put it together next to the grid/outline. Then they take away the outline and have you do it without any guidelines. It takes quite a few tries for kids like ours. There are only half dozen pieces. It's not a huge jigsaw puzzle. But it really makes a difference in creating new ways of looking at things and figuring them out.
    I would work with-your difficult child at home on simple images, copying ... if you want him to stay at that school, you will have to supplement at home. I'd be afraid of trying a new school and then being terribly disappointed.
  14. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Actually, an attention span of 5 minutes on an unpreferred activity is pretty typical of a 6 year old boy.

    The wandering around and touching stuff is more ADHD or 'bored out of his mind' stuff.

    Since you have already rejected medications at this time, I think you need to look at changing the environment. IIRC, you would also have more family support in Morocco. But, as DDD said, a short stay in Morocco and then back to the village could just add to the issues.
  15. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I really don't like any of your options. It sounds like J teacher has given up on him and that will only go worse. As DDD says moving J back and forth may cause some more serious issues and if I haven't missed something J citizenship issues are not yet solved so moving permanently to Morocco is not an option in this point. If you could find a good alternative school or even traditional French school that is better equipped to handle learning differences and would be able to have a permanent residence near that, that could be a good option. But finding one will be a challenge. Not because there aren't those but because it is very difficult to find a reality before you have a child in the school. Many will give you a good speech but what will be a reality is different. Maybe ADHD boards etc. good help you to find a good school and area to live in? Getting real people's real experiences would be much better than look for brochures.
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, thank you all for your comments. I think you have covered the full range of opinions :) But, seriously, that is not unhelpful... no-one can take the decision but me, obviously.
    You are right, SuZir, that at the moment J is a Moroccan national (with the right, easily renewable, to live in France until 2015). As far as I understand it, as long as I have a house here, and an income, I should be able to return here to live with J until his majority - so returning here for secondary school might be an option, for example. One has the right to apply for French citizenship after five years of continuous residence.
    I shouldn't be shocked, I know, but the teacher's attitude did shock me a little. Or his apparent attitude. He seemed to kind of laugh when he spoke about J, as if to say "oh, what a funny, eccentric little boy - he's just different from the others and I let him potter around, being different". This shocks me because I am quite sure that J has potential and capacities just like the "normal" kids. One positive thing he did say that I forgot about - his handwriting is "amazingly good", neat and fluid...
    I do think that a system that accepts and values J as he is would have to be better for him. There is a Catholic Montessori school that has caught my eye - in the middle of France so four or five hours drive from here. I am planning to go to the UK for the next half-term holiday and if I drive, could possibly stop on the way and visit this school... Would have to let my house out as no-one wants to buy it for the moment. On the other hand, the little private school I went to see in Morocco has just six or seven kids in each class. I also have a friend there who is an ex-primary school teacher (an excellent one, it is clear to me) who would be willing to give J private reading lessons occasionally.
    On the French thing... I don't want to stir things up but I think it is indeed a good habit to get into to be appreciative of the country where one lives as well as critical. There are many things to be appreciative of in France and I am grateful to this country that gave us a welcome when my own country, the UK, did not... in terms of humanitarian, social and collective provision, France is way ahead of most countries in the developed world. At the same time, it seems a simple fact that I hear everywhere repeated by French parents of ADHD kids, that there is very little popular understanding of ADHD or understanding from teachers. You have to really battle to get accommodations and recognition. I am sure that the situation is slowly changing and there is more and more understanding all the time. This is not a culture that particularly values difference and individuality and it can be tough to have a child who is different here. Imagining that it will be all roses somewhere else, however... is clearly delusional. Life with difficult children is tough wherever you are. I am sure we can all agree on that.
  17. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    How much do you have left to that five years mark now? Two or three years? I would think it would be a great advantage to take care of that now. When that is dealt with, you have more freedom again to consider other living options in and out of EU. One thing you may need to consider too is that you will probably not want to move J between age 10 to 15 or 16. Teenage is difficult time anyway, it is much better to go to that prepared. Meaning that J is established, has good friends and hobbies, you knowing his friends and their parents etc. Trust me, that is invaluable with teen kids.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yep, Malika. It's the school system that seems not to acknowledge differences in learning that is problematic to J. It isn't France, per se.
    I see much to criticize in the US as well, but I do think there is more flexibility here with differently wired children. Doesn't mean we are perfect. The board itself here shows that we also have problems at times, but there are laws in place so that we can fight teachers who refuse to accommodate our kids. Not always easy, but it can be done. Now we won't go into healthcare...I am appalled that the US does not offer healthcare to everyone as a right as they do in France, but t his isn't a board about that issue.
  19. buddy

    buddy New Member

    There was an interesting news report about how much more ADHD is diagnosis'd in the us in the last decade. African American girls are up by like 60%. Partly because girls present differently and partly because African American girls were assumed to be misbehaving ( theory presented).....

    Off topic a little but increased overall....

    I missed this post earlier, sorry.

    I haven't read all the responses but I was thinking these random thoughts :) .......

    1. If it comes down to his really being ADHD or having learning issues due to whatever.... Repeating may help for now ( and this young, esp switching schools why not give it a try?). Buy you may end up in this same place in a couple of years again even if it does work.

    2. He may mature and despite his issues do better

    3. A medication trial could give you clues to the cause even if you decide not to use them ongoing.... Not that I think you should, just being curious...... Because if not ADHD or some executive function disorder, the medications won't likely help.

    4. His being a boy and very young with no peers to really compare him to probably puts him at a disadvantage.... Darn.

    5. If he truly can't sit that's interesting..... Would your teacher allow him to sit on a ball or wiggle cushion? ( they are seat sized cushions made the same as exercise balls but shaped in a flat circle. You blow it up and put it on a chair. Many classes let kids use exercise balls in a base or let kids stand at desks....if the teacher says he doesn't mind that he moves, maybe he'd be willing to experiment with you? ( is he like that at home too?)
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Maybe I've got this wrong (not unlikely :) ) but in my thinking this is a KEY time because J is learning to read... therefore having another year to consolidate his slower pace of learning than his peers at this stage makes sense to me. Once you can read properly... well, the world's your oyster, isn't it?

    J's problems at school are getting "worse". Up to now it's been said that teachers don't think he can be ADHD because he concentrates so well. Now, apparently, he doesn't... presumably because everything is harder and more boring to him? Nonetheless, his moving at school is NOTHING like his moving at home where he careers round and round, spinning off the sofas, swinging off the staircase, etc, etc. Except when he's calmly playing with his toys, listening to a story or whatever.

    If he is to stay in the conventional school system, medication will probably be a sine qua non... the philosophical problem raises its head. Thing is, he really doesn't want to go anywhere else. Children do adapt though, with a bit of time.