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Any advice to improve concentration at school for "distracted" 1st grader?


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Anonymous January 7, 2009


My 6-yr old daughter is one of the youngest in her 1st grade class (July bday). Her teacher is very concerned that she is so easily distracted in class. She is worried if we don't address it now, she'll have a lot of trouble keeping up in 2nd grade. The teacher said that she knows my daughter is capable of doing the work, but she has to constantly remind her to get on task. The teacher (a 20-yr veteran)doesn't have any suggestions for me to try at home.

At home my daughter eats and sleeps well (in bed at 7:30/sleeping by 8, and up at 7am). She is a very creative and mostly loves to play building imaginary buildings/machines or play mom/princess or run around. She does not like as well doing coloring or playing a board game. She says she doesn't like school, but she doesn't complain too much about going. She just says it's all work and not fun like kindergarten.

Any suggestions to help build her concentration or do you think it will develop naturally with age?

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healthy11 January 7, 2009


HI. It's difficult to know, from a few paragraphs, what the problem is, but I can't help but wonder if she's a bright girl who may have some attentional issues. While it's not always fair to stereotype, most girls do enjoy coloring and generally excel in school in the early grades, being "people pleasers." Young boys, on the other hand, are usually the ones who have trouble staying seated and focusing on deskwork, board games, and other "quiet" activities.
My son ended up being one of the youngest in his class, but he's got a very high IQ, and he also has ADHD. His teachers in K and 1st grade expressed the same kinds of concerns that your daughter's teacher are...he's capable of doing the work, but doesn't do it consistently, without regular redirection.

In the short term, you might try some kind of daily "sticker reward chart" whereby the teacher "awards" a "smiling" face if your daughter is mostly paying attention each morning, a "neutral" face if she's behaving "so-so" and a "sad" face if she's needed lots of redirection. Have a similar system for the afternoons. (It's useful to see if there's a pattern of behavior when she's perhaps hungry or tired towards the end of the day, etc.) At the end of the week, you might give your daughter token prizes, like a trinket from the store, or allow her to stay up 1/2 hour later, or have an extra serving of dessert, or see a favorite video, etc.

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ncusip January 8, 2009


Both my sons were held back one year. The reason being that they were not matured enough and they would struggle overtime. I recommend you consider maybe doing the same. It has been great for us and has given both my sons a chance to develop social skills and now they both enjoy school and get good grades.

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ncusip January 8, 2009


Talk to the teachers about possibly holding her back one year. It makes a huge difference overtime. She may not be prepared to have to concentrate in class at her age.

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MSMomm January 8, 2009


In addition to healthy11's suggestions, you may want to ask the teacher to place your daughter at the front of the class to lessen distractions. You can also ask the teacher if your daughter can help in the classroom by handing out papers or materials, erase the board, things like that. This will give her a chance to get up and stretch for a couple of minutes and release a bit of energy before moving on to the next task.

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ncusip January 9, 2009


Both my sons have very high IQs, and even then we held them back. Holding kids back (when needed) gives them a chance to catch up on other issues like focusing, social skills, etc which makes them more balanced...

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rogomom2 January 9, 2009


I generally disagree with holding a child back unless there is strong grounds to do so. It was recommended that my daughter go into an intermediary program between kindergarten and first grade and after doing a lot of research, we decided not to. I could not find a single research study that showed a long term benefit to retention and many that showed a negative long term effect. Allowing my daughter to go forward was one of the best decisions we made. My daughter is like yours-she is one of the youngest in her class and is easily distracted. The slight age difference quickly fades. What was a big deal in kindergarten isn't even noticeable now. In my daughter's case we discovered she had an auditory processing disorder that makes it more difficult for her to pay attention in class. I think she also is just a dreamy kid. She has gotten somewhat better with age in the attention area, though it is still an issue. She is much better at completing tasks and other areas with which she struggled early in life. I agree that putting your daughter towards the front of the room may slightly help. In one of my daughter's former classes an aide sometimes sat by my daughter and periodically tapped her on the shoulder when she lost focus. That sometimes helped. Other measures would depend on whether or not she is struggling academically.

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Blezzed January 9, 2009


Since your child is a 1st grader and easily distracted, you might want to get details from the Teacher. Have them pin point when your child becomes distracted (e i.. school subjects). My son is 5 and he's easily distracted but redirection works best when there con-structional control in the classroom and in the home.

Sit in the classroom randomly each month and observe them your self. I had to do that for my 1st child who was then diagnosed with ADHD. I had him tested by a child care organization who deal with childrens development. They did series of test called, "Child Watch" and I watched thru a 2-way mirror.

Today he's still on meds for his ADHD since 3rd grade and an Honor Roll student every year. Best of luck

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TeacherParent January 13, 2009


Did the teacher say anything about your daughter not getting the work done? What's the outcome of her distraction? Does she distract others? Does she always need directions repeated? Her teacher saying she's 'distracted' really isn't telling us much.
That said, not every child is ready to buckle down to work and worksheets by age 6 or 7. Your daughter sounds like a very creative and imaginative thinker - likely she finds the rote nature of worksheets and the constant 'on task' expectations boring - some teachers are better than others for children who are creative and imaginative. You might keep your ear to the ground as to what people are saying about the second grade teachers and request the one you think would be best for your creative child.
Handed a worksheet, some children are happy, others sigh and resign themselves to it, some pretend to do it but are doodling on the edges, others start to distract their neighbor and some just can't stay focused on the worksheet - they look out the window at the sun shining and wish they were there. They think about things more pleasant than the worksheet in front of them.
I find that natural in young children - I'm an old teacher who thinks modern education forgets that children are children. Does your daughter read well? How is her writing? If she's doing fine with her skills, then she'll be prepared for 2nd grade. I'd go in and observe in the classroom - sit in the back and the normal routine of the class will start up again. You can see for yourself when your daughter gets distracted and how much of a problem it is for her.
And what does the teacher says she herself is doing about it in the classroom? Over 20 years of teaching, she should have come up with some strategies for distracted children. Informing you as the parent is always the right thing to do but teachers should be able to suggest some possible solutions to the problem they're pointing out.

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jessica01 January 13, 2009


Well, my son is 5 years old is a very active child who is very brainy but then at the same time he finds it really hard to concentrate on one thing which really frustrates me sometimes specially when i sit down with him to teach leaving all my house work(as i myself have a very busy lifestyle),his teacher says he is doing well in school and whenever i show concerns and that he is improving day by day. But i can clearly understand how you feel because we all want our kids to do well. I think the main secret to success is keeping patience.I had to threaten my son that I am going to put all his toys and cars in the bin, if he doesnt' listen to mummy. And guess what he started crying, after a while i realised may be i shouldn't have said it but it worked as he started paying a tiny bit more attention.so may be do more activities with her at home and try to redirect her and in the end praise her and give her loads of hugs and kisses for being yr lovely little princess. may be that will help

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juleswt January 14, 2009


I'm sorry I can't offer any solutions, but just wanted to offer my support and assure you that you are not alone.

I also have a 1st grader with a lack of focus. He is constantly daydreaming, looking out into space, and has to be reminded to get back on task. He literally needs to be reminded every minute sometimes. He never finishes his work in class although he tries very hard. He is not hyper or disruptive.

Right now he sits on a balance cushion to focus his energy/mind (http://www.amazon.com/Isokinetics-Exercise-Disc-Balance-Cushion/dp/B000WQ4Z7Q/ref=pd_sbs_hpc_5) which seemed to help for a little while, but I think he got used to it because it doesn't work as well anymore.

I haven't met anyone with similar problems, but reading the book "Dreamers, Discoverers & Dynamos: How to Help the Child Who Is Bright, Bored and Having Problems in School" shed a little light on him, but didn't offer any solutions that worked.

We have discussed this issue with his teacher but we don't know what to do. Reward systems will not work because he desperately wants to focus and do his work, but he just is not able to no matter how much he tries. Reward systems would just make him discouraged because he is trying so hard and not seeing results. It's not a matter of motivation.

Holding him back wouldn't work because it doesn't have anything to do with ability (he can do everything at grade level when he focuses) or maturity (he is considered to be very mature and responsible in all other ways).

We are at our wits end. It could be neurological. We are still trying to figure it out.

Good luck. I hope things work out.



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