1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Child who just cries... what to do??

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by craftyangel49, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    I'm starting at a new school in EY class and there's quite a few, shall we say, complicated children. One of which is a little boy who cries for mum every time its carpet learning. I covered the class one morning last term and he was bawling for the entire phonics lesson making it really hard for me to teach.

    He has really low communication skills, both his parents are illiterate and are not very supportive when it comes to school. I have a TA but she's needed to support other children as well as him so I can't have her take him out every lesson. Besides, hell miss out on valuable learning.

    As someone who is relatively new to EYFS and has also been out of education for over a year, any tips???
  2. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I am presuming this is a Reception Class rather than Nursery and that although low communication skills that he is English speaking. it sounds as if the more 'formal' carpet times are too much for him at the moment and perhaps it is beyond his understanding so he just wants mummy. Can he help you hold resources etc at the beginning so he is focused on something else rather than having to come and sit quietly. Does he have some sort of comforter at home for when he is unhappy that you could ask parents to send to school with him for these times.
    Can he have a special cushion away from the others but still in sight of what is going on on the carpet where he can look at a book quietly or a favourite toy with the hope that eventually he will want to join you.
    Perhaps if you have a big teddy listening bear he could sit with it on his lap with the bear watching everyone is sitting nicely and listening.
    Maybe start with him only having to sit for 3 mins then 5 mins quietly and he is rewarded with something he likes doing or sticker chart for reward at end of week. TA can move him quietly away to sit with book etc but still in earshot.
    Not sure any of these are new suggestions to you but hope it might help you or someone else reading. You don't say that he has behaviour issues, just the crying so it could be worse!! hopefully he may soon settle.

    As you are the new teacher and he has had a break over the holiday he might come in afresh and pleased to see his classmates so go in positively at first and don't expect problems.
    Good Luck hope it is better than you expect.
    Kartoshka, Sillow and sabrinakat like this.
  3. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    A 'jack in the box' is a lovely old fashioned toy much enjoyed by the little ones. I tell the the kids it is a musical box and jump in surprise when the 'jack' pops out!

    Just the sort of empowering item to try out with little ones you are having trouble with. He can learn to play the music himself and chuckle when you jump.

    Just a thought.

    Kevin the Clown
  4. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Yes, it's a reception class and he is English. The ideas are great, thank you so much.

    What would be the use of the jack-in-the-box? As a distraction or as a novelty timer while they sit down??
  5. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    I use the jack-in-the-box as part of my circus workshop for little ones.

    Learning skills helps increase kids confidence. More confidence - less likely to cry.

    They learn how to operate the winder correctly in a clockwise fashion to generate the music. They also learn how to push the 'jack' back in the box and close the lid.

    I give the children the additional pleasure of seeing me 'jump' when the jack pops out. At the 3/4/5 age some kids will love to do it over and over.

    I have been meaning to mention jack-in-the-boxes on the early years forum for some time. Don't just stick it in the toy box. See if you can get some positive reactions with any pupils who need particular help.

  6. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    @circuskevin The problem is, the teacher wants to calm the child on the carpet so she can teach him and the rest of the class. Producing a jack-in-the-box is more likely to distract everyone else as well and if the child chose to constantly wind it to make the teacher jump, it would break the flow of the teaching.

    Great advice from May2. I think distraction is the way I'd go; asking him to hold something or sit somewhere special, e.g. on a chair near a table, then closer to the carpet, then on the carpet.

    How was he today?
  7. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    Ah I see, I get the concept of the jack in the box but I couldn't do that during lesson.

    Oh my goodness, he was awful! He was crying the minute he came in the door. He didnt stop until we started continuous provision when he calmed down. Then i started maths and he goes again, and again at snack time then he ramped it up a gear during phonic, actually screaming. But everytime we go into continuous procision, he's fine. I think it partly the distraction which stops when he sits down, partly he doesnt want to learn so he cries almost as his default setting.

    What with also having a deaf hypermobility child, an autisitc boy who is pushing boundries, a diabetic who has his bloods done 3 times a day by my TA so I lose her, as well all the usual year R joys, they are a shock to the system after a year out of teaching I can tell you!!
  8. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    Oh dear , I really feel for you. But it was your first day too so you perhaps weren't feeling so confident either after having had a break. I presume he has been in school since September, do you know what he was like last term and whether he has had any pre school/Nursery experience? Has anyone found anything that worked before? I wonder whether he mixes with the others or whether they have formed friendships and he is possibly left out a bit and his crying is a bit off putting to the others. If this is the case do you have any really nice kind children that you could try to buddy him up with and they could begin by playing with him and then take him with them to sit with on the carpet.
    It seems you need to find a way of stopping the crying first before worrying about him learning anything. Don't forget in Early Years a lot of learning is going on during the continuous provision without the actual carpet teaching times. An alternative way of dealing with him could be tough love. Could you take a firm attitude to him and say' we are not accepting this crying anymore, you are a big boy, everyone is having fun here etc and we can't have you upsetting others' and make him sit some where away from the others on his own preferably until he stops. Then depending on how he is and how you want to play this you could then let him be rewarded with doing something in continuous provision quietly, or a choice from you of two things he might like to occupy himself quietly just this first week while he settles back in. Then next week or now if you think it possible once he stops let him join the carpet by sitting on a cushion a little way back for 3 mins with him knowing it will just be for that short time. If you have one or can borrow one, if he has a sand timer he could have it next to him to concentrate on and watch the sand so perhaps distracting him from getting distressed again.
    Also don't forget perhaps a comforter from home.
    To be honest you cannot use up all yours and the TAs energies on this one child. I am sure you are doing your best and will be a great Reception teacher once you have all settled in this term.

    Just one other thought, some littlies find it difficult having to suddenly stop what they are doing and it can help if they have a warning that in 2 mins it will be carpet time etc. I have played music which signalled time to stop playing, tidy and come to the carpet. 3 songs played and by the third they should all be on the carpet singing the song 'Sit very still' This led to a 'fairly' quiet calm transition.

    Another idea is a visual timetable, it obviously takes time to make but you could have a whole class one to refer to what is coming next throughout the day. With certain children who really have problems I have photographed the actual activities and given them their own board with perhaps the next 3 activities of the day on it that they can refer to and remove one as the activity is done. This could be useful for the autistic child too.
    Oh dear I seem to have written an essay! I hope something might help. You are not alone in this, keep posting. You will not change him overnight but decide on a strategy and try to keep consistent. Best of luck, I do hope you get on well with your TA and that she is supportive.
    Kartoshka likes this.
  9. therunningman

    therunningman New commenter

    I think the one thing I would say, as mentioned in the post above, is to forget about his learning for a while. He has many years of school ahead and working hard to get him in a position where he is ready to learn will mean he can make the most of his time in school for years to come. His learning for now needs to focus on his ability to learn.

    Lots of good ideas above. A couple I would suggest are:

    1) Set him a simple challenge. Can he come into a lesson and settle to the carpet for just one minute. I would start with really low expectations, which can easily be built up as he improves. After one minute, he can

    2) Take time at the end of a lesson/break/lunch to feedback to him - lots of praise and set the next day's challenge whilst he is in a positive mood - "Wow, I'm really pleased with you today. Well done! I bet you can't manage TWO minutes tomorrow!" By setting it the day before, it's not a surprise the following day, but can be reiterated before the lesson.

    I am assuming that the carpet time is only a small part of the lesson and time spent on the carpet as a class is relatively short, although possibly repreated through the lesson.

    Another idea is to set him three challenges - Red, Amber and Green. Red is his minimum challenge (maybe sitting for one minute), Amber is a medium challenge (three minutes) and Green is the ultimate challenge (5 minutes). This way, if he reaches one minute, rather than straight away getting up from the carpet he may feel he can stay there to hit the Amber or Green target. He could even have three timers.

    I really wouldn't worry too much if he spend the whole time looking at his timer and takes nothing in from the lesson - that will come.

    I currently teach year three in a junior school and whilst the children are significantly older that he is, the head always stresses the importance of the first half term in ensuring that we work to get the children ready to learn so that they understand the expectations for the remainder of their time in the school. Whilst the bulk of the class are already in that position and start bu working very well straight away, there are always a few individuals who need to worry about their personal approach to school more than the academic achievement in their initial time in the school. Year 1 and 2 will thank you for it if he has stopped this by next year.
    Kartoshka likes this.
  10. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    Thanks for your help.

    So far today he's been better but still crying every carpet time.

    There's a lot of direct teaching here, we have about an hour of continuous provision in the morning and there's about half an hour in the afternoons.

    That's not much is it? I'm used to CP all day, apart from a short input and phonics. But this school is different ever since the new EYFS leader came in September, she's added 2 formal lessons as well as phonics everyday.

    I will keep going but not get too stressed. He has just turned 5 but is clearly at a different developmental stage to the other children.

    Mum and dad are both illiterate so he gets no stories at home, no reinforcement of learning and I think he is babied.

    Not easy, but not impossible! Thanks for all the help, I really appreciate it :) keep the suggestions coming. I'll keep filling you in.
  11. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    Glad he is a bit better today. You sound a lot more positive!
  12. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I have been reading a book called Real Advice for Real Teachers written by Race Esqith who teaches fifth grade in the US and has been awarded an MBE and other awards for his teaching and contribution to education. If you have time, I think this book would give you some comfort and insight in connection with your current dilemma.

    It is a shame about this boy's parents as they could be a great help to him. Have you ever spoken with them?

    Is there a pastoral team member at your schools! Who could help liase with the mum and dad?
  13. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    When you say crying and screaming, do you mean distressed or cross?
    Is it tantrum crying, in that 'I prefer to keep playing and doing my own thing'?
    Or is it worried crying, as in 'I don't like sitting close to other children and don't understand carpet time'?
    Or is it sad crying, as in 'I have time to think at carpet time and then I miss my mum'?

    You need to be dealing with the reasons for the crying and screaming, not the actual crying and screaming. If that makes sense?
    InkyP and Kartoshka like this.
  14. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    If he is spending the whole lesson crying, you won't be able to teach him anything. So, instead of thinking of his learning in terms of the lesson content, you need to plan to teach him how to learn: how to stop what he is doing, sit on the carpet with the other children, listen to the teacher, and engage/join in with the lesson. This will be the most valuable thing you can teach him this year.

    I would suggest making an individual plan for him, setting him some targets and noting how you are going to support him to achieve them. Other posters have made lots of suggestions for targets, so I won't repeat anything here, but I do agree with @caterpillartobutterfly ; you need to find out why he is crying in order to work out what targets to set him and how best to support him.

    Do you think it is the whole class sitting down together that feels overwhelming to him? How does he react if you work with him in a small group? What about one-to-one? It may be that he feels comfortable when he is in charge of what he's doing (during child-initiated play), but doesn't like/is worried by/isn't used to adult led activities. You need to find out what he is able to cope with at the moment (if anything) and then work up from there. You could start by calling him to do an activity that links to something he enjoys (eg. you've seen him playing with cars during continuous provision, so you plan an activity using some cars) - just him. If that goes ok, try with a partner, and then in a small group.

    You may well find that he doesn't respond positively even one-on-one, in which case you will need to start off with lots of one-on-one activities. Include activities such as sitting and listening to a story - perhaps the same story you will read later to the whole class - so that he gets to hear some stories at school (since he isn't getting that experience at home).
  15. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    I had a child in year 2 once from Taiwan who'd never been to school. He spent about a month screaming first thing for 20-30 minutes and being cuddled (held down) by a member of staff. Eventually he stopped but it did make taking the register and doing my Maths teach difficult!
  16. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    Thanks everyone, wow I feel really supported by you guys :)

    He is getting better already, @caterpillartobutterfly the crying is sad "I miss mum and on the carpet I have space to think" crying, I think it's also a bit of I don't want to sit and learn so I'll just cry. He'll try and get out of it by saying he has a headache, or his finger hurts. I sympathise but always say that it won't stop you from learning so you need to stay sat with us.

    The previous teacher used to shout at him a lot but I'm finding if I'm firm but calm he seems to respond. There's no chance of him hitting the ELG at all but we can keep trying, you're right @Kartoshka he needs to learn how to learn, his parent's can't model that for him so that's my job.
    Even though he's frustrating and can't speak properly, he's still at the "me want toilet" "me hurt finger" stage, I've worked hard this week at building up my relationship with him which seems to be paying off. Fortunately I am developing a bit of a soft spot for him.

    I was thinking of starting a reward system for when he manages to sit and not cry. Each time he manages it for say 5 minutes, I give him an plastic animal (he loves animals) to fill up a special cup with, if he gets the cup filled up, he gets a treat.

    I have spoken to mum before, I think she's quite intimidated by school but then it must be quite a daunting place if you can't read or write.

    Thanks all!
  17. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I am glad you are already seein improvement as he gets used to another change in his life - a new teacher with new routines.

    It is always good to hear a follow up to a post too
  18. craftyangel49

    craftyangel49 New commenter

    HE'S STOPPED CRYING!!!!! He's now refusing to eat lunch but HE'S NOT SCREAMING ANY MORE!!!


    In fact, he's now joining other children in play, actually joining in in phonics and I have a little soft spot for him now. His speech is still poor but he has improved.

    Oh my gosh I'm sooo pleased!!

    Although I'm now expecting him to be crying tomorrow now I'm celebrating....
    Sillow and ActionAidSchoolsTeam like this.
  19. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    So glad he's stopped crying!! Bet your ears are happy, too. He may cry again, but it'll pass.

    Yay, so pleased for him and you. :D

Share This Page