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Need help - child who will not talk in class nor do any work

Discussion in 'Primary' started by invincible, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. invincible

    invincible New commenter

    I'm at the end of my tether. I have this boy, aged 7, in my class. I know he is capable but he just won't show it. He sits for ages and does nothing, won't ask for help when he needs it and despite all my efforts to engage him, including rewards and being as nice as I can to him to gain his trust, he won't do anything.
    I know he has emotional problems. His mum is on her own and she recently had cancer. I know he is suffering from fear of losing his mum and because his dad left them. We had a meeting about his progress recently with him and his mum present and everything was fine until he had to show her what he'd done in his portfolio (there was enough to put in one surprisingly!). He wouldn't talj to us and all through the meeting he only whispered into his mum's ear despite her pleadings to talk out loud. He has no confidence to talk out loud to anyone, let alone in class and when he talks to me, whispers in my ear too. He even gets out of his chair to come to me and do this and has even hugged me often saying he loves me.
    I feel so sorry for him but I don't know what to do. He is due to move up a class at the end of the school year but I work in a school that retains kids. I really don't want to retain him just because he can't show what he can do. Please anyone, have you got any suggestions to help me with getting him to be more confident, to show his ability and do some work?
    Posting here as it gets more response than the SEN forum.
  2. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I personally wouldn't worry about the not speaking or working, he sounds like he has more important things to be thinking about. Building his confidence would be my first step.

    He can play games like snakes and ladders with a small group of kind children who won't require him to speak unless he chooses to.
    For the resister he can whisper his response tot he person next to him, who can praise him and then answer for him.
    He could complete short and simple written activities. Don't worry about them being the same as the rest of the class, just concentrate on them being tasks he can see success in.

    Also work with your senco to get him involved with outside agencies that can help him with his worries and concerns. Get his mother to talk to her GP and find out some charities/agencies that can provide help and therapy for him.
  3. I agree with minnieminx. Children need different things at different times and I would suggest that you start with building the relationship up with him first. I know it is difficult with a child who doesn't speak but try to find out what he likes doing and go from there. Maybe buddying him up with some other children to play games during lesson time to build confidence and speaking - after all that is still part of Literacy :) Even if he can do things like colouring and crosswords, word searches etc, if he can be independent and achieve even these small things by himself it might just give him the boost he needs. Good luck :)
  4. invincible

    invincible New commenter

    Thanks for the advice so far, some of which I am doing at the moment, like cutting down on quantity of work and looking rather at quality. I will try the other things suggested too. One big problem is we are a private school overseas and do not have a senco nor a real special needs dept. and also our families are paying customers so we have to keep them happy too. The mum knows he has problems but came to school saying it was our job to sort it out. Other times she seems to be on our side but she has been known to turn against us so I have to be careful when suggesting he may need therapy, although I have already mentioned it nicely. I feel caught between the devil and the deep blue sea on this one.
  5. It is not your job to sort this out. We teachers are not trained for such difficult cases and we're not social workers. At the end of the day this boy's mother is the one responsible for his emotional well-being. I'm sure you are doing what you can already to help this boy but you are quite right in saying that he may need additional help from a counsellor.
    Could you meet with his mum on her own and again state what you can help with but really if the boy is not emotionally ready to learn because of all his problems then this needs to be addressed. If not, what about your headteacher?
    I hope you get somewhere with this for the sake of the boy and your peace of mind.
  6. Can you say whether he has good relationships with any of the other pupils? I suspect adults can help him, but ultimately children of his own age are going to be the motor to bring him out of himself. Perhaps you could ask one of the popular or sensible kids to mentor him or try and involve him in play (if he doesn't get involved).

    Also, does he use opportunities to express himself in a non-verbal way? Does he do any art, painting or collage? PE? Do you do any dance/drama?

    If he's dad's gone, does he have any positive male role models that could chip in?

    I suspect his mother will have to be more involved. If she can get him to do work at home, then it could bridge back into the classroom via his relationship with you. Do you have a homework diary you could send regular messages back and forth?

    Could she also be encouraged to make sure he does some sort of Saturday activity, also with other children?
  7. invincible

    invincible New commenter

    Thank you all for some great suggestions. It helps to have people there who understand things from your point of view when you just get so bogged down in it all and can't see a way through.
    Yes, I've asked mum to try things out with him at home and up to now she's been ok with that and we've talked together to see what kind of interests he has to try and tie in his learning with those. He really has no role models and he and his mum are kind of insular. I think she puts all her issues onto his little shoulders and the poor lad is worn down with it all. He's only 7 and it's not fair. He really does not express himself in any way and finds it hard to make friends. He tends to stick to kids in the class who also have problems and that's not helping him move forward. I would like to try and get him to sit next to someone who can be a more positive influence on him and I plan to guide him to do this. I just feel his mum makes it worse. She's a bit of a back-biter and sets up parents against each other too, seing her son as an angel who can do no wrong. This kid is in a really bad place and I so want to help him get out of it.
  8. in a bogstandard uk primary, ports of call would be senco, learning mentor, welfare officer, art therapist - presume you have none of those
    as you are a private school, can you talk to mum about private therapy (having done a little research about what is available locally?) - no personalities or attitudes involved, just because of the situation
  9. invincible

    invincible New commenter

    Nope, we have none of those. I have talked about a counsellor and I have some contacts available if she wants them but, her being the paying customer and "customer is always right", I have to wait until she decides.
  10. fingers crossed and good luck to you

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