Restless K'er

MommabearJanuary 14, 2002

Today I got a call from my son's K teacher. He is "being a handful" in class. Very fidgety. According to the teacher he does great in centers and he does great when he has a specific task assigned to him, but when there is a whole class lesson that he has to sit through he is restless. He rolls on the floor, and is extremely fidgety. His academic work is excellent. He is already reading and his writing is getting better every day.

The teacher asked me if I had seen this behavior at home and I told her that sometimes when he has lots of energy I suggest that he go out and run around with his brother outside. That seems to do the trick at home, but quite obviously she cannot do that in school. She says that normally the first reprimand they get in school is that she takes 5 minutes off their free play, but she doesn't want to do that with Zack because she thinks that taking away time for him to run around will make him MORE fidgety, not less.

She will institute a behavior system with him where if he behaves at circle time he gets a sticker on a chart sent home to me daily. If he can get 4 sticker days during a week, I will get him a treat. I agreed with this approach. I asked her if she thought it would help if she gave him something to hold during the whole class lesson. That way he could move his hands, not his whole body. She thinks that is a good idea. He pays attention to the teacher's lessons (doesn't make noise) he just doesn't sit still while she is giving it. We know he pays attention because he comes home and tells me all about mammals, or fish, or plants or whatever they are learning about.

I suggested that he be pulled out of K and sent to PK4 (the school is PK3-5) for circle time if he insists on babyish behavior, but the teacher thought that was to extreme and he might be demeaned by it.

Are there any other suggestions you can give me to help him be a bit less restless during whole class lessons? The teacher is receptive to ideas but I am all out. BTW-he pays attention at lacrosse practice.


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He sounds BORED to me.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2002 at 6:24PM
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There can be a great deal of difference in the maturity of children in Kindergarten--some are almost a year older than the others, girls mature faster than boys, some parents keep children home an extra year so they'll be more ready--at that age, even a little difference can be huge. Your son sounds as if he's just not quite socially as mature as the others. Hopefully, by the end of the year, or next Sept. he'll have caught up. I'd continue to reward him for his efforts. Perhaps having time at home when he as a short task to do that involves sitting still (while you gently remind him, if he gets 'itchy') might be a way to help--but of course, you still want to encourage lots of running around to use up that extra energy, too.

This is why teachers who teach young ones have lots of changes of activity. My summer kindergarten cooking class is only an hour and a half long and I usually have at least 5-6 different activities in that time--keeps them on their toes and helps them channel their wonderful energy (wish I had so much!)

He'll probably grow out of this and settle down as he matures. That is, I wouldn't get too panicky at this point. If you are still getting the same reports in a couple of years, it might be time to ask some questions of some experts. For now, I'd suggest working closely with his teacher--whenever possible positive reinforcement is great, although punishment is an option that shows him there are consequences for less than satisfactory behavior. Good luck to you both.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2002 at 6:36PM
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No, not bored--if he was bored, he wouldn't be listening so closely that he can come home and tell you so much about the lessons. And you say he's great at the different centers. As an educator, myself, I'd say that in this case, it's far more likely that he just hasn't mastered the ablity to sit quietly yet. He'll get it though, as long as he has a teacher and mom who want to help.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2002 at 6:39PM
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I think I agree with you. He is very bright (according to teacher) and he LOVES school. He is not showing any signs of ADD. He does his work when it is given to him. He can stay on task if a task is given. He is already reading. In our school K-2 cover similar subjects (animals, geography, plants) in SS and Science. My 2nd grader has tests and when I quiz my 2nd grader my K'er knows the answers. He IS listening, just not sitting still while he does it.

I told him that if I got a good report today I would take him for a shake at McD's. He PROMISED to be good. I think he wants to behave because he LOVES his teacher so much. I will let you know how it turns out. His teacher wants to try positive reinforcement first. I agreed to try whatever she thinks is best.

What about sending him to PreK for circle time one day? His teacher says it's to harsh for a minor offense (her words) like not sitting still. What do you think?

Thanks for your response.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2002 at 1:48PM
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I tend to agree with the teacher about the PreK circle time (although, I admit, I'm not quite sure how the circle time is being used at your school). The goal here is to have him learn to fit in to the usual school routines, not to single him out and 'demote' him. If he goes there and has a ball--then it's becoming a reward--not good. If he feels put down by having to visit the PreK, then he's not going to feel very good about himself and that could cause even more problems in the long run. And if he goes to the PreK circle, is he going to be missing out on classroom work?

He does sound bright and motivated, keep him as busy as possible. I know how easy it is to get involved in your own work around the house, but be sure to be aware of his behavior and compliment him on quietly completing a 'sit-down' task whenever possible. I have nothing against any system that works--including rewards, but there is sometimes a fine line between a reward and blackmail, so depending upon the child, it's sometimes best to use the treat/gift idea sparingly. Let it be known that good behavior is expected--but this time you're rewarding the fact that he's been trying SO hard. Did that make any sense?

It's great that you're working with a teacher who is so dedicated and receptive--keep up the great rapport with her. Do let me know how things work out. Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2002 at 2:46PM
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My daughter (in 1st grade) exhibited the same behaviors -- rolling around, touching other kids or anything else nearby, but following the lesson very well while doing so. Her teacher gave her a Koosh to hold during circle time. End of problem.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2002 at 6:15PM
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I wouldn't say bored, but maybe 'unchallenged'? My DD goes thru this phase just before she is to be promoted to the next class in preschool.
Maybe the teachers could up the difficulty of the activities and crafts he is given to do during the day. Harder puzzles, more intricate crafts, etc.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2002 at 9:28AM
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He had a good day yesterday. He didn't want the shake though (asked if we could get it another time). I guess he was full when he got home. He had to be redirected 2 times duing circle time which the teacher said is pretty normal for little boys.

His problem only crops up when they are asked to sit still in a whole group. When he is given something to do, he does it. He PROMISED again that he would make me proud of him today. We will see if it works out. We have a day off on Friday so if he is good today I will let him choose what we do on Friday (within reason).


    Bookmark   January 16, 2002 at 10:12AM
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Is he physically unconfortable sitting on the floor? My incredibly bright nephew had trouble in 1st or 2nd grade (his morning teacher claimed his afternoon teacher was intimidated by how smart he is, and also that he was slightly bored), mostly for fidgeting in his seat.

His father (my bro) went to the school to talk to the teachers, took my nephew along. Nephew sat in his desk to show his dad, and dad noticed that nephew's feet weren't touching the floor--his feet were dangling in midair. Not only is that uncomfortable and unsettling in itself, but it cuts off circulation to the legs, which is physically and medically uncomfortable. He made a wooden box to go under the seat go the kid could put his feet there, and bingo! No more wiggling--or at least a LOT less.

Maybe sitting tailor-fashion on the floor for 15 or 20 minutes at a time is not comfortable for him, and he rolls around on the floor because that's easier on his back, thighs, etc. You might watch how well he does sitting still (not playing, which lets you get up on your knees, etc.--sitting still) on the floor for a while at a time at home.

Sounds like you've got a good Kgarten teacher w/ a good approach. If she thinks sending him to PreK is too harsh, go with her.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2002 at 11:11AM
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Talley Sue-That's a good point, but I don't think it applies here. He doesn't seem to have any problem sitting on the floor to play Playstation!

Yesterday was better. We will see what today brings.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2002 at 2:18PM
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How are your children doing? Seems like we can get some good advice when we seek it.
It has been 27 and a half years ago when I enrolled my oldest daughter in kindergarten. She has a l0 year old daughter and a one year old son.
We(my family) have been involved in education all of our lives. My wife just left to begin preparation for Bible School. She had 20 in her Wednesday night class last night at the regular Wednesday night Bible study. These children come to church seeking to know more about God and His Word.
We are very uplifted and encouraged by our young people, who are concerned and interested in knowing more in how to live for Christ.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2002 at 7:06PM
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My son is doing much better now. I am not really sure what turned him around. I think it was the combination of reward/punishment that worked with him. I do think he tests authority to see what's important and what's not.

My children are being raised in the honorable and ancient Jewish tradition.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2002 at 7:46AM
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Thanks for the good report.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2002 at 8:28AM
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