Approaches to discipline.

At a recent parent teacher conference I was informed by my 9 year old son's teacher that she had placed his single desk in the center of the class room, in an attempt to encourage good class behavior from him. The remaining students were stationed in groups or clusters of four each group at each corner of the room surrounding his isolated desk. The other 16 students were also instructed during the class period to "ignore" this student "when he lashes out." I was shocked to be hearing this for the first time at the conference as his teacher informed me that this was one of many "last resorts" to an ongoing problem. His teacher says that the kinds of outbursts she is noticing are things like not raising his hand to answer questions, switching the subject, creating distractions to get the attention of other students... I really wish I'd known there was a problem before the teacher went through two different methods of disciplining my son. By different I mean unusual to the standard methods used to encourage the other students in the class room. My question is in regards to this method, it seemed unusual and extreme to me but I'm not a teacher? I don't have to work with children in groups, is this a technique that is often used to correct or address behavior problems in the classroom?

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May 28, 2013
It won't work for her anyways
by: Lynn Peterson

If your child is anything like mine it will not work and will backfire on her.
He is sensory seeking......Putting him in the middle of the class, center of attention and telling the children to ignore him?(which will never happen) OK my son would LOVE this and he would be orchestrating the entire room. It is like my son getting sent to the principle's office for not standing still in line.
You are going to have to advocate for your child and be the judge for what to do with this teacher and how to do it in as gentle and educational way as you can.
I have run the gauntlet of teachers and the VERY BEST teacher we have had so far (he will be going into 5th grade this next year) was a woman who just pretended he was no different then her other children and embraced his differences as normal. She ignored the bad and rewarded the good. NEVER disciplined his messy desk but understood that to him it was in perfect order. It was the teachers like you describe that made our most painful years. Standard discipline will NOT work with SPD children and her discipline is questionable at best anyways. You were not made aware as well which is unacceptable.
What I did was copied off some of the best pages from books and internet articles about SPD and sent them personally to school with a small chat with the teacher. Some were indignant and others then tried. One teacher was so horrible that my husband and I just wrote off that year all together. She had my child shutting completely down and so stressed out that he was having nightmares and refusing to go to school. Once we took away her power over us and the situation he calmed down. We removed him from her classroom most of the day into the resource and OT rooms.
With a child with SPD this will be the normal. You never know what teacher you will get and so you have to be constantly in tune with how they are doing in school. You have to become an expert on SPD and how your child reacts so you can give suggestions to teachers who just are not informed. Most are as frustrated as us or more so because they know nothing or little about SPD.
We feel like we fumble along more then we stand so always know that each child is different and only you know your child. We all do the best we can and you are not alone in this.

Apr 10, 2013
by: Anonymous

You should have absolutely been contacted on behavioral issues regarding your child. I do not think humiliation is ever an appropriate form of discipline. It could possibly be traumatic to a child or cause some self worth issues. It does not model well with the other children and could encourage bullying. Perhaps you could shadow at school to assist with issues or address the behavior at home. If is related to a learning disability then testing would be beneficial and you may need to look at an IEP. The first course of action is to identify what is going on with the child and adress possible solutions with the teacher and school counselor.
Good Luck!

Oct 02, 2010
In a perfect world...
by: Sarah

In a perfect world, no child would be separated from the group. It goes against everything we know about socialization and including all children in the typical activities of the classroom. That being said, classrooms these days, at least in CA where I live, are so overcrowded, that it may be necessary to separate a child from his/her group if the distractions are severe. I am an intervention teacher, and worked yesterday in a third grade class that had 4 out of 35 students separated from table groups, yet still within the entire group of seats (no one was across the room or against the wall.) Two of these students had behavior cards on their desks in order to redirect them, (they probably had diagnosed issues) and the other two were just boys with louder than average levels of talking, etc. It did help to have them be separated, as the amount of getting up and down, squirming, and fidgeting was already distracting, but less so because there were no immediate children on either side.

Your child's teacher should have been communicating with you from the start. Maybe you could have added some input as to what he responds to, or how to get him to settle. A parent should always, in my opinion, be consulted before extreme measures are taken. Ask her for a behavior contract, make her work to help him, not just separate him. She needs to do her part to ensure HIS success, not just the success of the other kids.

I hope this helps a little :)

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