How do I get her to focus without putting her on meds?

Leticia - posted on 08/03/2010 ( 14 moms have responded )

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my girl is 4 and she is in a home daycare. She is as smart as can be and she knows allot more then what we think hoever she has a hard time sitting through a worksheet or creating art work or something without copying what her classmate is doing. She is not ADHD nor do I want her be put on meds. How can I help my child learn more without having her on meds? We try to make this fun for her but she just wants to get things over with. The crazy thing is that we think she doesn't know something and she really does.....what is that? Help please not sure how to teach her......

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Natasha - posted on 08/03/2010

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Well said Krista : ) I am a first grade teacher. A four year old would often have a very difficult time focusing on a worksheet no matter how intelligent she is. It is not developementally appropriate. At this age allow her to learn through play - games, songs, stories, things like that. I believe that far too many people are being misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Just let her learn through play. She'll be fine! In the state where I teach, the teachers are now discouraged from using "worksheets" with the students on a regular basis anyhow.

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Terrece (doingthedamnthing) - posted on 08/08/2010

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As a teacher I'm going to agree with Amy, it's pure boredom!!!! I think you should start her in school and see what she does, the main thing is to keep her mind stimulated. if she not paying attention to the work it's not that she doesnt know it, it could possibly be that she doesnt want to have to do all the same stuff all over again!

Lisa Marie - posted on 08/06/2010

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Leticia,
My three daughters are amazingly successful young women. However, there is no question in my mind as I look back that they would have been diagnosed with all kinds of crazy stuff if I were raising them in today's society. In fact, one of them probably is legitimately dyslectic (slightly). At the very least she is a not so good speller and often reads the wrong word. Despite this, she has been working since she was 16, they all have. My Jessie is a OKWU psych grad and works as a vocational assessment specialist. My Racheal is a well-paid nanny who started her own bridal consulting business last week and already has clients and she also plans to get her beautician license sometime soon. (And I guarantee...she will) My Crissy works for Sony headquarters while pursuing a career in the music industry.
Take courage my friend. Continue to believe in the best for your girl and she will amaze you!
Blessings!

Lenka - posted on 08/05/2010

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There's a few things you can do. One is to remember that she is four - maybe art is not her thing. Or give her short spurts at the activity - if she does even a tiny little bit independently give her lots of praise, and then a couple minutes of quality time together working on the same activity. Over time, try to stretch out the amount of time that she works on it independently. And figure out what activities are more reinforcing for her and use them as incentives; for example, if you finish off this little part, then you can go play outside on the swing.

At this age - enjoy who she is as much as possible. It does not sound like she has a major learning difficulty, just that she is interested in 20 different things and wants to explore them, and so working at a table is too much for her. When she is ready, that kind of learning will catch and hold her interest, and she will start to show what she knows a little more.

Eronne - posted on 08/04/2010

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Please please please don't medicate unless there is absolutely no choice. I read a story that would have a lot more impact if I could remember the dancer's name but it was about a young girl that was taken to a shrink because her parents were worried about her hyperactivity. The psychiatrist was brilliant and after watching the girl twirl, climb and bounce around the room from behind a two way mirror, said to her parents she's not hyperactive, she's a dancer. The parents took it to heart and she became famous. Read as much as you can about the BENEFITS that adhd children are blessed with. My son now 23, had it pretty bad growing up but in a few months will be a pilot. There are so many things that he is capable of, that his siblings can't do and it's all because of his 'disorder'

Dora - posted on 08/04/2010

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I haver tyo agree with Amy. It sounds like she may be bored. You should see about getting her IQ tested. It maty answer a lot of questions for you. Also look at her diet. Is she taking in too much sugar, salt or fat. Talk to a nutritionist maybe her daily diet just needs to be slightly adjusted to help her focus. Don't use drugs unless you have exhausted every other treatment. I notice that my train of thought changes depedning on what I eat. Depending on what is in my system sometimes I can't focus long enough even to read a short article.

Michelle - posted on 08/04/2010

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If she's not swinging from the chandeliers then she's not needing any medication at this point. Echoing what others say, preschoolers have short attention spans - even for preferred activities. You actually worry more about children who spend too much time in any one thing.
Instead of worksheets, think of other ways you can teach those concepts. Numbers can be taught in the store, by counting things you see on a walk, etc.
If art projects don't interest her, try doing them with her. If they still don't see what else she seems to like, music? dance? Maybe she's more into performing arts than visual ones. If she's high energy she may just need more time to move and groove.
I too hate that so many people seem to push medication, but it seems to be reversing. My child who has identifiable disabilities, only once has medication been brought up, in the concept that next year if she cannot focus enough for testing (standardized tests start, sigh!), even with accomodations, then they'll discuss if medication would help, which to me would be more appropriate, we'd be looking at medications at the end of 3rd grade, not in PreK.

Natasha - posted on 08/04/2010

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In the school that I teach, there may be as many as 5 - 6 students in a first grade classroom on medication for ADD or ADHD. It is hard for me to see so many kids put on meds at such a young age. I understand that it is still possible to grow out of it. They're still young. I love Tammy's alternatives to medication.

Tammy - posted on 08/04/2010

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I have the same issue with my 4 yr old. In fact we had her evaluated for ADHD, even though many say they can not be but they can be. She will have to be re-evaluated in 2 yrs but wih her starting Preschool this year we wanted to know before she is behind. She is as well very smart and tested at a 2nd grade level. She had been diagnosised with mild to moderate ADHD. I like you did not want to put her on perscription meds. Her ADHD doctor said that the one thing that will help is to increase her magnesium which will help to open the blood flow to the brain and help to calm her down. He has us trying a natural supplement called Calm to see if this will help.

The other thing that we have found is to have her in TaeKwonDo, which keeps her very active. The plus with this is she enjoys it alot. Her ADHD doctor stated that this is also good as it will help her to focus as there is alot of structure in the class.

Krista - posted on 08/03/2010

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I am a counselor who works with kids, and I've seen it happen quite often that because a child's attention span is short, that everyone assumes that he/she has ADHD and wants to medicate them. At age 4, 99 % of children have a VERY short attention span, and this is developmentally appropriate for them. Especially when dealing with doing worksheets or something that is mentally challenging. Children will also have a shorter attention span for tasks that they have already mastered, because they quickly become bored with it. For a Pre-K aged child, a good educational program will shift activities at least slightly every 15-20 minutes to maintain the child's attention. As your child gets older, her attention span will most likely increase. Oh, and any good psychologist would never diagnose a child under the age of 6 with ADHD or prescribe a child that young with medication except in the most extreme if circumstances.

Veronica - posted on 08/03/2010

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I agree with the first post she may just be bored.

My philosophy is to make learning a game. And to make the opportunity to learn available and let them absorb what they can at their own pace. I don't assume anything is too "advanced" for my son there is always a way to put into a child's language and they will learn what they can and the experience will make it easier for them to learn more in depth later on. (i.e. my dad played a game with math problems with me, and was teaching me algebra in grade one. I didn't really get it then but had fun pretending to solve problems and making them up for my dad to solve. When it came time to learn algebra many years later I was familiar enough with the concept that it came quickly to me. He would also make the math problems out of stories which was super fun as a kid)

My dad was very involved with me and my brothers and sisters teaching us anything as it came up, or if we asked questions. He would read to us lots, and now I am an engineer and my brother and sister got good marks too. I love explaining science to my son even though he doesn't get it yet but I tell him when he plays with the camera that the light goes in, bounces all around and makes a picture come out. Or I tell him about the bugs and animals we see. I want to be like my dad and be very involved in my son (and future kids) learning and make it fun.

As a side note, my dad is ADHD and very intelligent and creative, but does have problems concentrating and with losing things etc... and it can make him very very frustrated. If you suspect your daughter does have it in the future early intervention in terms of teaching her alternative ways to deal with how her mind works it can eliminate or reduce the need for meds. Don't let doctors or teachers force meds on you if you can find a way around it. ADHD can also come with a unique set of strengths and it is best in the long run to learn to adapt to how the ADHD mind works or try and encourage alternate teaching methods and tools. And when they are older, they can learn to medicate themselves when they really need to focus, and to let their mind work in its natural way the rest of the time. Just my opinion though

Donna - posted on 08/03/2010

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She might just not like worksheets. Look into learning styles and multiple intelligences on the internet. You'll read about some kids are visual learners, some are auditory (love to be told stories) some are kinesthetic and need to get their hands into textures, temperatures, and items they can manipulate.

Leticia - posted on 08/03/2010

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thank you for your advise! I will have to try that....maybe we are teaching her in a way that doesn't interest her. Thank you so much. I agree she is to young to be diagnosed with ADHD nore do I want her to be diagnosed with it.LOL. So we will try that and see how it works out. I just would hate for someone teacher once she hits school to tell me that I need to take her to a doctor to put her on some kind of pill for this....that would be the worst. Thanks again have a great day!

Amy - posted on 08/03/2010

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to me it sounds like she's smart and board. A 4 year old is too young to even be diagnosed with ADHD. Since she is 4 have you tried talking to her and asking her what she doesn't like about it? Or see if there's other activities (or types of activities) she would like to do more of?

Our son who's 2 does very well with things he's interested in and enjoys, if we do something he's not as interested in, then he does just what your girl does and rushes through to move onto something else fun.

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