Kindergartner doesn't focus at school

Amy - posted on 11/04/2010 ( 29 moms have responded )

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My 5 year old just started at a private kindergarten this year (she's scholarshipped, thank goodness) but she's having a difficult time adjusting. She's a little younger than some of the other kids and didn't go to preschool with them. Her teacher has told us several times that she daydreams while the teacher gives instructions. We've tried to help her focus, to no avail. Now she's being put with one of the classroom Moms for one-on-one time to help bring her up to par (fortunately the Mom is a friend of mine, so I know she's in good hands). She hasn't done very well on tests, either. I'm really at a loss to know how to help her to listen to the teacher and focus. It's hurting her self-esteem some too. The teacher said she's a really bright kid but seems to be afraid of making a mistake, so she won't let the teacher look at her work while shes working, even copying from the other kids, which of course she can't do while taking a test. The other Mom tried to assure me that it's normal because being a bit younger she lacks the maturity but some of the other kids who's birthdays are at the same time don't seem to be having difficulties (I asked thier Moms too.). Does anyone have any ideas about how I can help her?

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Rebeca - posted on 11/09/2010

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First it sounds like she is very scared and unsure. Definitely do not show that you are feeling stressed or she will feel like she is dissappointing you too. Set her down and talke to her. See if there are things at school that are bothering her. You never know kids act out in weird ways when my daughter could not see the board at school she started acting out at home. She was great at school but at home it was like a monster posesed her once we got that fixed she was fine. Set aside time to work with her personally and don't let it stress you out when she is making mistakes. Calmly help her and just keep trying. You may also want to get her tested I know I didn't want to her it but my daughters 3rd grade teacher has a million degrees and when my daughter was having the trouble your daughter is she said I bet she has female adhd and we got her checked and sure enough she did we got her help for it and gave her techniques to help her focus and now she is an A/B student. The key is to always keep confidence in them and if she gets held back make it possative. I explained it to my daughter she just has a brain that works different so it needs to learn different and she was totally ok and she excels in everything she does. Good luck I know it is hard.

Toni - posted on 11/05/2010

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I'd have to agree with what the others are saying. School doesn't seem to be the right place for her yet. Maybe she is overwhelmed. Maybe waiting until she is 6, and work on some social activities at home to prepare her for Kindergarten. I am a preschool teacher, and I see it often that some kids just aren't ready for Kindergarten at 5. :) I hope you can work things out, and fin a solution that works for you and your child.

Amills_2000 - posted on 11/05/2010

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The teacher seems vary caring, but the child may just feel too intimidated to freely express herself. Confidence and self esteem are a careful balance for small children. You don't want her to be the best student in a bad class or the worst in a good class. Let the kid know you love them no matter how they perform. That can relieve some of the stress then just have fun with the lessons. Make a song or video together about one of her assignments... When she sees learning as fun and failure not as disappointing to you, it could smooth things out

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Amy - posted on 11/20/2010

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Wow, there is a lot of informatio out there. I'm working with her school and the doctor and we've seen a lot of improvement.

Klara - posted on 11/19/2010

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I'm sure you've talked about the fact that everyone makes mistakes. Maybe putting this into practice and teaching her to laugh at herself if possible. I know easier said than done. My 5yo also has issues in school, not with the work, but with concentrating and listening during large group activities. I actually did some research on ADHD, and it fit perfectly, so have been applying some of those behavior techniques at home, and they seem to be helping some. They talk about making sure she gets exercise before sitting down to do stuff, transitioning into activities, etc. Is your daughter getting enough sleep? If she's daydreaming, this could be an issue. Just trying to explore all avenues here. She can see everything okay I am guessing? That would be hard if her eyes were the issue. As a nurse they train us to rule out medical issues before assuming its behavioral.... My 10yo is very serious and gets frustrated if she's not perfect, so I completely understand that part. We just try to reassure her that no one is perfect and that mistakes are how we learn. As long as she tries her best (honestly), we are happy with the result. I don't know if any of this helps, but I wish you the best of luck!

Alisha - posted on 11/18/2010

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That is a huge adjustment for children and it can be hard especially at only 5 years old. You have to remember they are used to playing not being so structured and especially not used to taking tests! That seems a bit much to me for a 5 year old to take tests and be expected not to look around at what the other children are doing. I think if you want her to stick with it you are going to have to do your best to support her and give her time to adjust. Don't stress too much it's totally normal!

Sherri - posted on 11/18/2010

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It just sounds like she is very young and what she may need to do is repeat Kindergarten again next year. Keep supporting her this year and do the best you can but please DO NOT push her to first grade if your gut tells you she isn't ready. That will be a recipe for disaster!!

Autumn - posted on 11/18/2010

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You might want to see if she has add... this can not only affect your attention, but your self esteem over it in a big way, because it seems like you're unable to do even the simplest things that everyone else can do.

Jennifer - posted on 11/18/2010

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yes sometimes it is a matter of diet and allergies some times though it is adhd and sometimes it is that she feels like no one likes her and you got to let it work it self out because if you don't she will never let you figure out the problem belive me i have a 13 that adhd and when the child started pre k it was this way but i kept it going and it took til he was in 2nd grade to figure it out with akot happening we changed the childs diet and that helped alot but the child still needed the meds because it is a chemical inbalance in the brain that causes adhd . so got that and the child is great now and get a,b,c on the report card now use to get d and f

Tamara - posted on 11/17/2010

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My son has had similar problems with an august birthday he is the youngest in his class. Now in first grad with focus issues I changed his diet and everything has improved. We have eliminated color (artificial) and high fructose corn syrup. His behavior his focus and his handwriting has improved so much. It took like 2 weeks to get this out of his system but the results are amazing.

Anne - posted on 11/16/2010

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I found doing worksheets at home with my kids from about the age of 3 onwards helped them learn how to sit and focus on a task, complete it and then move on. Of course they learnt lessons in literacy and numeracy from the work they were doing, but it helped get them used to the need to concentrate. A good set of worksheets specifically for your child's age - or younger if she's struggling, will start with quick, easy work that will gradually build up in the time they take and the work level. That way you can build her confidence too - lots of praise and encouragement will help her feel confident in her capabilities. I used the David Dolphin worksheets available from http://www.worksheetsforpreschool.com and found them really great - and my kids loved them too!

At the age of 5 I think kids should be spending more time playing than sitting still 'studying', and daydreaming is part of being a kid! We have so little time to daydream when we grow up - I think it's sad how much pressure our kids are put under to perform! Good luck, whatever you try - at least your daughter has the love and support of a caring parent!

Mackenzie - posted on 11/16/2010

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she's 5 I would not worry about it to much. All children adjust to school at different rates. My daughter is 8 and she still daydreams and does not always pay attention all the time. You just have to remind them to do their work then they can play or whatever they want to do. Kindergarten is about adjusting to school and the new social environment. Have her do practice tests at home so she gets used to it. I was the same way when I was little, and by the time was in 5th grade I was in all AP classes. There is a lot of pressure on kids to know everything so young now, when I was in kindergarten I could spell my name and that's about it. Your daughter will be fine.

Joanne - posted on 11/16/2010

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Hi Amy - just out of interest spend some time researching Auditory Processing Disorder http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/Visual_... . - She may be a visual-spatial learner! Out of interest this often affects many bright children. These children need to learn in pictures and zone out when there are too many straight lines and words (which pretty much sums up our education systems method of education). as their learning style differs from the system they often seen as having ADD or learning problems but really they just function differently to the system. I would have her tested by an educational psycologist and look into her learning style. http://www.susa-parentcenter.com/ also hosts many ideas of ways you can help her develop her preschool school during your daily life at home. These activities include things like sorting the cutlery to put away. It's visual, physical and has a purpose whilst requiring her to concentrate and develop other pre-school skills. Hope this helps.

Laura - posted on 11/13/2010

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I have to agree with the others. I have a similiar situations with my son. We finally decided to pull him out of school to let him mature a little more. If you force the situation at an early age your daughter could start developing negative feelings towards tests and school.

Shannon - posted on 11/12/2010

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My oldest daughter started at an academic intensive private school in K4 (4 years old). I knew she would do great because she already loved learning. She was reading before the end of the school year. My youngest started K4 this year - different child, different personality, different story. The main thing turning the situation around is PRAISE. We work on it every day at home and I praise every thing she does right and when she listens.now, she associates that with doing well at school. She will come home and tell me everything that happened at school because wants to hear proud I am. If you don't punish her day dreaming and make learning fun game for the two of you at home and lavish her with praise for all good behavior/paying attention etc. You will see an improvement. Kids can do it at this age they are just not used to those type of expectations yet.

Crystal - posted on 11/12/2010

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Is she bored? I've been volunteering in my child's Kindergarten class every other week and I notice that its very difficult for the teacher to get everyone's attention at the same time. Is she being distracted by her classmates? Have you asked her if she's overwhelmed? What is her reason for not paying attention? Is she half day or full day? I think at this age, getting them to focus and sit still all day is a bit much.

SiewYean - posted on 11/11/2010

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Here are a few considerations I would like to suggest:

1. Self Confidence - work improving her self confidence. My boy is afraid of making mistake. It took me lots of efforts to try to boost his confidence. I suggest using craft and painting. There is no right or wrong when come to painting. The constant praise will help. Try out what I have done here http://www.kids-activities-learning-game...

2. Learning Styles - if the kid is tested negative for ADHD, try consider the learning styles of your kid. Try teaching the her according to her learning preference. I have tried and I can see the improvement in the learning behavior. Get more information in http://www.kids-activities-learning-game...

3. Maybe the kid is just not ready for such a structured school. I agree that it can be very stressful for a 5 year old to do test.

Hope this helps.

Trisha - posted on 11/11/2010

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This seems to be a common problem in most schools. My child just started kindergarten this year as well and for about a month, and even sometimes now, I receives notes that she is having trouble focusing. Me, as a mom of 5 children, all of who are boys except the kindergartner, feels like at the age of 5 they will not be all the way focused. They are only 5 and I don't understand what else they expect from a 5 year old. We work with her at home and she does great, but she even sometimes loses focus here as well. I feel like they expect little Einsteins to attend these schools and it's just not so. When I was 5, I played, learned my colors, and did what 5-year-olds do. I am glad that they try to teach them at a young age the fundamentals, but every child learns at a certain pace and as a parent I understand this. I worked at a YMCA as a teacher and what made me such a great teacher was that I gave each individual child the attention they needed because they all had their own pace. i think once the schools understand this, there will not be such a big issue with this problem! I hope all works out for you and your child.

Nicole - posted on 11/10/2010

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she has been tested (1 to 1 psycological) by someone who specialized in children. she has a slow processing speed but that was it. the guidence counselor and reading/math specialist, whom she works with asked if they could test her again because of not focusing, staying on task, daydreaming, sitting and doing nothing ect ect
i havent gotten the results back yet but i'm hoping soon. Glad your daughter is doing so well, i pray and hope that one day school wont be such a struggle for my daughter and that mabe she could enjoy it. thank you for your help on what female adhd is.

Rebeca - posted on 11/10/2010

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If it is that bad I would get her tested by a profesional because the more trouble she has the harder it will be to get her to want to do the work later. My daughter was very disappointed in herself and thought we were mad at her. I would see if her pediatrician does it or can reccomend someone. We got lucky and her teacher knew the symptoms and suggested a place we could go it was a tharapists office and they do children and adult testing for different things so it was great when we got help ever since my daughter has been great in school and winning awards left and right and wants to learn because she gets it now and loves feeling good about herself.

Nicole - posted on 11/10/2010

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wow....that explains my amber to a T......i just wanna know how to help her. whenever i try to talk to her about her day she doesnt want to even discuss it and when she does she's discouraged, sad and feeling pretty stupid because she cant get all her work done. i filled out a behavior questionaire for adhd but i havent heard back from the school. if its something in her brain that is prohibiting her from focusing and staying on track and daydreaming/ starring into space doing nothing then i need to know how to help her. Right now she hates school and she's so hard on herself and she tells me she tries but somehow the work is not getting done

Rebeca - posted on 11/10/2010

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Female ADHD is way opposite of males. When you think of ADHD you think mostly of kids who run around and are out of control well that is for boys and Males they have the tempers andsuch. Girls and Females per say are the complete opposite and that is why it is harder to figure out. Girls day dream. They can not focus they end up off in their own world and can not stay on task. They may have trouble in school because of this. They tend to seem shy but really it is because they are just off somewhere else most of the time. My daughter and I both have it and once she got diagnosed and got help it completly changed her life she gets A's in school and can actually pay attention to things things now.

Nicole - posted on 11/09/2010

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QUESTION: What is female ADHD? I heard it from somewhere and was wondering if anyone knows specifically what it is.

Nicole - posted on 11/09/2010

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hi, i'm kinda new to this circle of moms thing but i was reading your post and i couldnt help but say "wow, thats my kid". M daughter is 9 and in 3rd grade. She too has a real hard time staying focused and needs frequent one-on-one to get her back on task and get the work done. I had her tested after the 1st grade and she does have a slower processing speed. the only thing i can suggest is to stay involved, constant comunication, and talk to her pediatrician. Wish i could help more but I too am still looking for answers......

Amy - posted on 11/07/2010

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Thanks for your help ladies! I had a long talk with her and her teacher, and Sophie kept saying how she missed home. The next day we found out her Uncle was moving to where we are, and she'll be seeing him everyday...he helps us with childcare, lived with us for a long time, and is one of her favorite people. Having him here will help her, and he's great at helping her with anything, much more patient than her Dad. So we are optomistic. We are making sure to praise her efforts and reviewing her work with her daily, but Uncle makes it fun for her to do, because he makes her teach him. She's taking him fr show and tell next Friday.

Debbie - posted on 11/05/2010

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She is a clever girl all little girls are maybe the move has upset her as i said before just tell her to do her best and that you are proud of her

Amy - posted on 11/05/2010

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I would consider pulling her out of school, but her principal and the school counselor both feel she can do well if she stays. She does really love it and does really well when she is able to stay focused. Her teacher explained she wanted Sophie to work with this particular classroom Mom because the mother is an artist and Sophie seems to really respond in creative exercises (which made me feel a lot better. At least she sees what my daughter responds to). And the counselor pointed out that Sophie likes to be a social leader, but the other kids knew each other before, so she suffered a blow to her confidence, ad that may have had a big affect. Also the fct that we had moved from another town shortly before she started school. But still, I feel like she needs some help building her confidence.

Debbie - posted on 11/05/2010

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Hi, All you can do is practise her work with her at home and tell her to do her best and that your proud of her no matter what ..... Good Luck

[deleted account]

I hate to say it, but it sounds like school isn't the right place for her right now. Or maybe not this one at least.

IMHO traditional Kindergarten classrooms are WAY too structured. Children aren't meant to be "focused" on schoolwork and taking tests at the age of 5! They're more suited for academics at the age of 7. Traditional modern schooling is so mixed up these days!

Have you tried homeschooling?

Or a Waldorf might be a great place for your daughter. My oldest child attends a Waldorf school, and it's fantastic. The best thing about it is its commitment to developmental appropriateness. Here's where you can find out if there's a school in your area (and if there isn't you can start one yourself!): http://www.members.awsna.org/Public/Scho...

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