I wish I could get my 6 yr. old daughter to behave in new kindergarten class

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by richmanlopez, Oct 2, 2011.

  1. richmanlopez

    richmanlopez New Member

    My 6 year old just started a new elementary school for kindergarten. On day #5 her teacher emailed me this note. Could I be at risk of the school expelling my child or refusing to teach her? Her teach is a very serious and stand offish person I am scared she will not keep dealing with my child. Please share your thoughts on what could happen here. I will respond with the letter below.

    Teachers letter:

    I have not been able to speak to you at the door in the mornings or afternoons because of all of the chaos. I wanted to let you know about "difficult child's" transistion to Kindergarten during her first week. Unfortunately, she has been very disruptive to the class. I have seen teasing of other students, messing up their work, grabbing things from others, and playing tricks to gain advantage for herself. We talk about kindness everyday and the rule in our classroom is to treat others the way you would like to be treated. The group is trying very hard to say and do nice things for one another. I am afraid that "difficult child" is not making very many friends with her present behavior. I have already had Mr. *, the assistant principal, speak to her about our expectations here at *. I felt this was necessary after several days of speaking to her myself about her behavior, with no changes. Maybe if you discuss her week with her at home this weekend, we can start off on a better track next week.

    Thank you for your help in this matter.,

    Here is the letter that I will give to her:
    I am disappointed to hear that M*'s transition to your school has been challenging. As M*'s parent, the content of your letter was disheartening. Both my husband and I both take your observations very seriously and have discussed our expectations, which are the same as the School Code of Conduct, with M* over the weekend.
    Unfortunately, as you stated in your email, we have not had the opportunity to speak in depth. If we had, then I could have shared with you some background that may help you to see that while the behaviors you are witnessing may appear deliberate and behavioral, M*'s therapist believes they are not. We are a good family with the same character traits, morals, and values that your school teaches. When M* began not respecting the space of others, having sudden mood changes, and being occasionally disruptive in class at her previous school, we took her to see a child psychologist. The first thing he suggested was that her social maturity was below that of her peers. We wanted a second opinion and were told various possible diagnoses and even tried medications that made our daughter either more irritable or tranquilized. The doctor said that M* might respond well to a new school environment. We had hoped that a move to a larger school with more activities, kids and a more structured environment would be enough to give M* a 'clean start' and therefore chose to not bias anyone's initial impressions. When I read about your school using the Love and Logic system, I was pleased as it is one of the many books I have read in an effort to understand and help M* make transitions.
    As a response to your letter, we are scheduling an appointment with a renowned child psychologist who specializes in helping kids who have the difficulties that our daughter does. He wants to evaluate her for ODD which you can read about here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/oppositional-defiant-isorder/DS00630/DSECTION=symptoms.We will keep you informed with the results and any treatment plan.
    Therefore, I am requesting a meeting with you and Mr. F* soon as possible. We would also like to formally request a meeting with S*, your school psychologist, for a 504 or IDEA evaluation.

    Lasted edited by : Oct 4, 2011
  2. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Oh dear, I do wish teachers would not write these kind of things - at the very least, this is a conversation that should have been had in person, not via email. In your shoes, I wouldn't explain anything in a message but would request a face to face meeting and take it from there. She does need to know about your daughter's background. I would not personally appreciate your teacher's implication that your daughter is the only child who is not being constantly "nice and kind" - unless this is a kindergarten for children who have died and gone to heaven :) but I would, I suppose, let that go... You need a dialogue, would be my sense of things!
  3. keista

    keista New Member

    Hello and welcome!

    I like the letter, but I would not mention the ODD evaluation and diagnosis. I would also not go "looking for an ODD diagnosis since in my opinion, that alone is essentially useless. Let me explain. ODD is based in behavior and not biology. More often than not, there is a biological or neurological diagnosis causing the ODD. Anything ranging from Autism, to anxiety, to bipolar and schizophrenia. It can also be caused by bad parenting (not the case here, but is possible) Aside from my opinion of ODD, I don't see how it explains ALL your daughter's behaviors. "Social maturity" "not respecting the space of others". And as the link states, other issues need to be ruled out and or addressed. in my opinion and experience, when the underlying issues are properly addressed, the ODD just seems to go away on it's own.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    First - welcome! I think you'll find you've come to a friendly place.

    Several separate things are going on here.
    1) immediate problem
    2) up-coming evaluation
    3) need for a different approach

    I agree with Malika - do NOT address the issue by email. Teacher should not have done so, either... it should have been a meeting - and it should have been last week, but that is water under the bridge.

    What kinds of evaluations has your daughter already had? who did them? when?
    What kinds of issues, challenges, problems, behaviors are causing concern? (as in, ALL of them, not just the school ones)
    When did these start? Where do they show up? home, school, shopping, elsewhere?
    Any medications?
    Any family history of issues? (adhd, depression, whatever else)

    Usually helps if you can give us some idea of the family situation - who all you live with, others who may be involved (bio-parent(s), exes, etc.)
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Sorry richmanlopez (hopefully not real names) - I forgot to welcome you to the board, so taken up was I by this insensitive email you have received from a teacher. So, as David Frost used to say, hello... and welcome!
  6. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I'm sorry you had to receive that. I imagine my heart dropping to my stomach if that happened to me.
    While I feel it is important to share information with the school so that they make appropriate intervention decisions, I would be cautious about what you share at this point. Especially as it relates to things you THINK might be going on. If they even get a hint of ODD then it may be hard to shake. For all you know she has sensory integration disorder, very mild autism, adhd, etc. all of which share many of the symptoms you have listed.
    It is only my opinion and you need to do what you feel is right but I would (I agree in person is better, it wont go into a file that sticks with her then and you have the benefit of correcting any misunderstandings on the spot) maybe say something like...

    ......Thanks for sharing your concerns. We too have concerns and are looking into everything we can to help her with these challenges. We have the same goals you do and look forward to working with you as a team for the benefit of our daughter.

    You don't owe them any explanation for her behavior in terms of being on the defense and thinking they might judge you as poor parents. I know the feeling of that, and am year after year realizing that it doesn't even matter, they will see that I am there and working with them and that will let them see I am a great mom. If they dont, big deal, I am still a great mom for my son.

    You didn't share information about whether this is a public school or not. If it is a public or charter school they cannot expel your child for something that is related to a possible disability unless she was a threat of SERIOUS physical harm to others. Not for social issues. If the private psychiatric says ther is something going on then you are only beginning your assessment and treatment journey. ( is it a neuropsychologist evaluation you are doing? It is good to get a "big picture" view as soon as possible for a baseline then you can track progress and also see if the gap is ever widening in terms of her performance compared to peers. some issues dont affecct academics now but may later, or social skills can improve in some areas but not others etc.) If you feel she has a special need/diagnosis and it impacts her school performance she may be eligible for school special education plans (she will likely go through a school evaluation process,it is free to you and mandated by law if you want it) which will afford you specific rights for her to receive appropriate teaching methods and supports. It will help them teach her to follow rules and make friends in a way that matches her medical condition and learning style, NOT just lecturing her about the rules and punishing her for lack of skills she just may not even have yet. Even if she understands school rules, she may not know how to navigate socially in order to follow those rules.

    I do not know who you are planning to go see specifically but as others on this board have mentioned, if it is someone who specializes in ODD they may overlook other challenges and in fact see ODD in your child even if that is not the right diagnosis. At her young age it may be or it may not be, since so many issues result in a child having ODD SYMPTOMS but not really being only ODD. I am sure others will chime in here with questions and more support for you and it can get overwhelming. So please take what helps and leave what doesn't fit and never feel comments are directed at your parenting choices etc. I am pretty new here and I am so impressed with the level of caring and sincere efforts to help each other on this site.

    Please keep us updated. If you go to your profile and settings tab you can insert information that will help people give you more specific advice (what has been her history of behaviors, medications, testing, Easy Child.) Please dont use your child's real name etc. My best to you as you begin this journey with the schools.

    Check in often, I hope it goes well when you talk to the school.
  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am so sorry you got that email. I am also sorry I am getting to you probably too late to save that email going out...sigh. You really want to send a certified letter to the school asking for testing for your dtr. Please see our Special Education forum. They have lots of information and I am not as up on it anymore as I used to be. One thing you do not want them to do is get her stuck with is the ODD label. While it isnt bad, the school can get stuck thinking it is all bad parenting. You dont want to spend years fighting that stigma. I would lay bigger bets on something along the lines ADHD or some other mental or neurological deficit.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Include in that list of "bets"... (my kids are still in school)
    - LDs - dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalcula, etc.
    - working memory issues
    - auditory issues
    - motor skills challenges
    - sensory issues

    Not all of these are things the school will want to test for - but raise THESE labels rather than ODD - as in, "Something else is going on here, to cause these behavior issues. We need to get to the bottom of the real issues."
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Hello and welcome--

    Rather than sharing all kinds of personal information in your responding email....

    I would start with a question:

    Dear Teacher:

    Thank you for alerting me to the problems you are seeing in class.

    What sorts of discipline are you using in class?

    Is the child being disciplined at the time the behavior occurs? Is there an immediate and logical consequence for the child? Have you identified any "triggers" for the behavior - such as another child acting in an unfriendly manner?

    I would be happy to speak with my child over the weekend - but by that time, any problem is long over...and young children tend to have short memories. Please let me know if there is any other way I can help...

    I am available to meet with you regarding this matter at _________________________
  10. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I love these questions! Yet, I can see the teacher getting a little defensive and though she maybe should be put on the spot, in the end it is the child who suffers if we can't keep everyone in the team problem-solving mode. Not that she doesn't deserve to be put on the spot a little, but then again, remember she had NO background about difficult child. To me that would have been all the more reason to approach a parent with a meeting and asking if they have ever had concerns and then to just list the issues that have been observed. Trying to gather all info and work as a team.... It doesn't seem this teacher has that kind of philosophy at least at this point. So, just MHO until you know there will be not a lot of cooperation (you are so early in this with them) I would do my best to just act as if you assume they are on page with you and that you just KNOW they are going to do the right thing for your difficult child. Not to be insincere with them, but I usually approach people assuming that a little info and education, along with knowing I am a supportive parent, they will be on board and help as much as possible. Puts me in the driver seat a little more. We all know of course that not every school person has that kind of desire to help and work with you, and at some point you may need to be a little more direct, but for now?????
  11. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Yes, good point, buddy...

    It just looked to me as if the teacher was "talking" to the class and "talking" to the child and wanted the parent to spend time over the weekend doing more "talking"...

    but I didn't see where the issues had been investigated or whether any steps had been taken to correct them. Had the teacher tried separating the children? Had she imposed a consequence for playing tricks? How did the child respond to the consequence? etc...
  12. richmanlopez

    richmanlopez New Member

    Hello All,

    I cannot tell you enough about how grateful I am for your advice. You are the kindess and most generous group I have ever encountered. I took your advice and emailed teacher this instead. Your imput means the world to me!!!

    Dear Mrs. Teacher,
    Thanks for sharing your concerns. We too have concerns and are looking into everything we can to help my daughter with these challenges. We have the same goals you do and look forward to working with you as a team for the benefit of our daughter.
    I suggest that I meet with both you and Mr. Assistant Principal as soon as possible to discuss this further. We would also like to formally request a meeting with your school psychologist, for a 504 or IDEA evaluation.

    Thank you,


    When I brought my child to school this morning the teacher asked if 7;45am would work for a meeting tomorrow. I will be there.

    My girl started hitting around 10 months old and still does it on occasion. We just switched her to a public school in out district. She had previously been at a very very small private school and was misbehaving there as well with teachers who I thought were lovely. I have taken here to several doctors and therapist and they all seem to have a different diagnosis. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Bipolar, inflexible brain and so on. She has taken Intuniv, Prozac, Paxil, some form of Ritalin and Vyvanse. Nothing helped her only they made here feel worse. At home and with others she is so difficult. She has major mood changes that come on quickly and is completely defiant. She does not listen to hardly anything. Of course she has no friends and the parents of classmates will not even look at me. It has been a lonely and frustrating road for us. I would love to balance her out and have more calm energy and peace. Her explosions are painful for me. I will be looking for a specialist who can give her a proper diagnosis and am will to fly anywhere in the US to make that happen.

  13. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    That's a great letter - calm, professional, polite. Fantastico! I do hope it leads to a positive relationship with the school in which your daughter's benefit is indeed foremost.
    Looks like some re-evaluation is in order... People here talk a lot about neuro-psychologists.
  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    That sounds great! You got your need to send an email to them accomplished AND suggested a meeting....perfect.

    I agree, This group in just one week has not only made my BiPolar (BP) go down, but I feel more patient with my difficult child just because I know I will have a place to vent or share and even if someone disagrees it seems done with such respect and true kindness.

  15. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    That was a great e-mail.

    Now what are you going to do in the meeting? Your daughter is lucky to have you to advocate for her.
  16. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Now my little brain is clicking along, sorry....... I dont know if you are interested but maybe people her have ideas for how to go into the meeting?

    So, since this is a first meeting with them some of the same ideas discussed earlier would probably apply. If it was me, I wouldn't guide them to any conclusions. I would discuss behaviors objectively if at all (so she is doing x? y? z? yes we have seen that) This meeting should probably just to let them know the next steps you are taking and ask them for the steps you would like them to take. Let them know if she has any specific triggers or anything you know of that can help right now in the class that was used before (like if there was a group rug or story time, my son had to sit with something to lean into or on a bean bag...sometimes he had a little stool to sit on to help him stay in his own "bubble", he has a weighted bean bag to sit on his lap...it can be warmed and used on his shoulders too...he could even walk around the back of the room and make no mistake--he was still listening and from there could even comment on topic to what they were discussing). for your daughter it could be completely different but just to get the kind of things I am thinking of. Does she do better if she can have a picture check list of what to do and a picture schedule of the day to check off? then it is more predictable and less anxiety provoking going through the day. (can be digital pictures of things that represent the activities of the day laminated on a ring and the teacher turns to the picture and says next we do... Also could be transferred onto a half sheet with boxes by each picture showing 1. story time 2. snack time 3. worksheet time....whatever the heck they do in K these days....

    Just so they have a couple of tools...whatever you have experienced in the past. Even if it is just what they might avoid with her....

    If you dont know, that is ok too....I am just thinking out loud.
  17. richmanlopez

    richmanlopez New Member

    You all are my support team. Without you I would have told them everything and given away my power without even knowing it and then dug a ditch for myself and little one.

    Tomorrow I am going to bring my mom with me for the sake of having more strength and having her be my witness as well.

    I plan on saying difficult child has had a history of difficulty without having been able to pinpoint anything specific.

    Something else is going on here to cause these behavioral issues. We need to get to the bottom of the real issue. She may have a mental or neurological deficit.

    I am open to what your suggestions are because I want this to work out as much as you do.
    Lasted edited by : Oct 4, 2011
  18. buddy

    buddy New Member

    ahhhh, very very good. Have her bring a notebook...that's always good!
  19. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    First, I hope that is not her real name.

    Second, I would go in and ask what difficulties they are seeing. Ask what they have tried. Suggest what you do at home that works. Set up a way to communicate with the teacher so she can tell you what is working at school. Write all this down. Then when they are feeling like this is a parent that listens to us and tries to help ask for the form to fill out to request testing for sp. ed. If they balk at this explain that you understand that it would go faster if you request for the evaluations and you would like to help your daughter have a good year in her class. If they are still back-pedaling then send a written request for the sp. ed. testing certified mail. You have already told them you would be requesting this. I don't think they'll balk at it, but I could be wrong. Of course remember this is all just a suggestion. It is what I would do. What I have done.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  20. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Just thinking of you since it is late in the morning here.....Hope you start a new thread about how your meeting went....You are being thought of and cared about.