OUR SON is a bright boy, just going on six. His behaviour at school, however, is highly erratic.
He becomes quite distracted in class, not listening to the teacher and disrupting group activities. We have worked closely with the teacher to construct charts for positive behaviour.
He receives a sticker for each of the three intervals in the day and these add up to rewards at home, for example computer time etc.
This worked reasonably well for the first term, however he is becoming increasingly more erratic. Some weeks his behaviour is poor despite the promise of rewards.
He has been on this chart system for almost the whole school year so far. His teacher says his behaviour is not classic attention seeking and his class size is quite large.
His schoolwork is good and he is focused and although lively is not poorly behaved at home.
We are often tempted to have 'bad' consequences but so far have stuck with positive praise for good days.
We are really worried that we are not doing enough to help him. Are there further steps we can take?
IT SOUNDS to me like you are taking, in essence, a good approach. I am always in favour of recognising and rewarding the positive behaviour that we want to see our children exhibit. Certainly this is preferable to punishing bad or difficult behaviour.
Star charts are generally short-term methods of publicly noticing and rewarding good behaviour. So it may be that, naturally, after six months of use his star-chart is less effective than it was in the beginning.
It also sounds like his reward of a sticker for being "good" for an interval of time may also be a bit unspecific. For example, does your son know clearly what particular behaviours are considered good and what are considered to be bad?
Does he lose out on a sticker if he has one incident of misbehaviour during a two-hour period? If so, then if he is distracting others, for example, near the start of the time interval, he may not have much motivation to return to better behaviour until the next term, since his sticker is lost already.
Is your child especially bright and under-stimulated in class?
If so, I think, therefore, that it is worth mixing things up a bit. Do find out if perhaps he needs to be challenged more with his academic work. Talk again with his teacher, since any changes will have to be agreed with him or her and will have to be manageable in a big class.
Furthermore, be very clear about the behaviours you want to see, and describe them positively (rather than describing them as the absence of something negative). So for example, specify "stay sitting in your chair" rather than "don't be running around the class". Or, "do your work quietly", rather than "no talking to the boy next to you".
Then, see if simple praise and acknowledgement from the teacher is enough to keep him on track. He may just be a child who needs lots of engagement to stay focused, rather than being able to work independently for any long length of time.
If there is a Special Needs Assistant in the classroom then ask if it is possible for her to give any spare time to noticing and commenting on his good work and his attention to the tasks in hand. This may make it easier for the teacher who has all the other children to focus on too.
The most important thing, however, is that you hold on to the positive work that you are already doing. I don't think punishment and negative consequences will get you any further, and will more likely just set up a whole negative spiral of behaviour through which he may learn to dislike school.
Like many children his age, your son may not yet have learned the skills to work independently and so continues to need adult help to stay on task. This is not a fault; it is more likely to be just a stage in his development. As he matures, he will, hopefully, require less and less adult time and attention to do his work.