23 answers

Child Has a Hard Time Paying Attention & Getting Work Done at School and Home.

My Child is in the 1st grade. He is a good kid for the most part. But this year we are having a really hard time with him paying attention and following directions and getting his work done in a timely manner. I am constantly on him it seems, for him to do chores around the house, and the teacher has called me numerous times stating that he has to miss recess and sometimes stay after school to finish work that he is slow on completing, and the other kids don't have a problem with their work, he stares off in space, talks with other kids, what ever he can to not work on what he is supposed to. I am at my whits end with ideas and things that I can do to get him to accomplish things. He always "forgets" things it seems on purpose so he doesn't have to do them. I don't know if there is something more medically there or if its just stubbornness.

What can I do next?

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By the sound of things, I would highly recommend having him tested for ADD. I had a nephew that sounded exactly like this and was put on meds in 2nd grade which helped him tremendously. by the time he was in Jr. High, he didn't need them anymore.

I use a timer with my 5 year old at home. It helps to keep him focused on time. At school, I don't know, but at home, the timer keeps him focused on getting one thing at a time accomplished. It has helped to some extent.

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Hi R.,

Well I have a 1st grader also and he is going through the samething also. Not all the time but some or part. I'm not about to jump on the band wagon that it is ADD though as most of the 1st graders in my sons class are the same way of sorts.

I was at my sons school today infact for their valentine party and I'm the head room parent, so we got there today and all the kids were behind on their work. My sons teacher was telling all the kids that they need to get done with their morning work.
So I think there are a couple things going on here 1) kids have to learn alot more in school now a days 2)they are only in 1st grade and staying focused is something that comes with time, they will get it in the next few years. 3) they are learning to cope with distractions in school whether it have to do with other kids or just things going on in the school or even throughout the day.
When I was there today none of them had their morning work completed.

Our party didn't get started for 30n minutes today and the other mothers and I had to help the kids get done with their things in order for us to start.
I would say that if it continues to go on for the next few years then seek other advice for me even now I'm gonna let my son figure this out on his own and let time pass.

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My first response is what is he eating. If he is eating alot of sweets and very few protiens that can have an affect on his attention span.

Also, he is a boy. I have a son that is almost 10 and he still has problems staying on task at times due to the fact that he is very smart and curious about everything. He can spend the better part of an hour daydreaming through a series of events. I sometimes wonder how many battles and kingdoms he has rescued over the course of the school day.

I homeschool and I realize this is not an option for everyone but through this experience I have learned a lot about kids.
Children weren't created to sit quietly 8 hours a day. Do you sit quietly ALL day at work with out speaking to the person next to you or without getting up and stretching you legs or taking a little break? That is what we are asking of very energetic children that love to move and do. So even though I realize he needs to learn to sit and listen I would also sympathize with his situation.

I am not sure that any of this was really what you call advice but I do hope that it was at least of some encouragement.

If you are a person who believes in prayer I would pray with him every morning before school.

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I truly believe this could be a normal part of a 6 year old boys life. Yes, it is worse in some boys than others and there could be a problem with ADD however doctors and parents alike are too quick to put kids on meds without trying other options first, all meds have some side effects. My 6 year old son is the same way, he is the slowest in getting his work done at school but the important thing (according to his teacher) is he does get it done and he gets it done right, he just needs more time. We also put our son in wrestling last year and it has helped him focus and taught him discipline (not to mention what it has done for his self-esteem). Since season started this year, he is already doing better at school. When he does chores, we do have to remind him to keep cleaning and not play with the toys he is suppose to be putting away. At home, we gave him a desk in his room to do school work and this is where he does all homework, the desk faces the wall so he does not get distracted by his tv (which does get turned off), or any toys in his room. Homework is getting done twice as quick now that he has his own place to do it.

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It sounds like your child might be bored. Have you had him tested to see if he is above his class. Those are symptoms of being extremely bored at school which usually means they are not being challenged enough. That is one idea. The other is of course ADD or ADHD but he doesn't sound like he has that condition. I would have the teacher try to give him more challenging things to accomplish and see if his attitude changes about school.

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I work with children that have difficulty getting their work done. I was wondering if you have thought of a way to make it fun for him. Like a penny check chart for every 5 minutes that he is on task. Let's say that if math is 30 minutes your son could earn a total of six check marks. If during that thirty minutes he hasn't lost any checks then maybe his teacher could give him a small reward. I wouldn't want him to loose more than let's say two or three checks. You want your son to be successful. If there are any behaviors that can be ignored then do it. It may seem like it can't be done but I have seen children work hard to earn their rewards. After a while you may want to up the penny checks to have your son earn a different reward. Like a popcorn party for the class. It's just a couple of ideas that I use at school and works really well.

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It sounds familiar to me as I have a son who was and still is like that at times.
It is up to you, but you might check into allergies, food, dyes, etc causing issues with your child.
I also would have him checked for Inattentive Attention Deficiet Disorder. Start with talking with your Pediatrician, then some Teachers to start the process. There are many treatments to this including sometimes simple diet changes. There is also medication that can help, worth checking out for your's and his sanity. I was able to keep my Son off any medication until he was in 3rd grade - my choice at the time. I then put him on medication and saw awesome changes, (not a hyperactive child like everyone told me would happen), but instead a functional child who now had ability to concentrate for points of time. My son's grades improved along with his self-esteem,(Well worth putting him on medication). I realised the person I had hurt the most by delaying his medication was HIM, (my fault). As Moms we are always searching for the best way to help our children succeed, for him it was with the use of Medication. I encourage you to ask questions, lots of them and continue to learn what works best for him. In the long run it will be the right way even if you make 'mistakes' along the way.
I still work with my son's diet, and try to teach him adaptive survivor behavior to help him use his unique style to work outside the box in today's Society.
Medication is not a fix all, it just helps him focus and accomplish things he needs to in order to function. My Son is a bright, ingenious child who comes up with new ways of doing things and problem solves in ways unexpected to most people. (The greatest inventers are made up of styles just like these. I tell my son this now as he is old enough to realise he is a 'little different' than others).

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You just described my first grader. LOL! Be thankful for his good behavior. He is probably just a happy go lucky kid, a daydreamer, and time means nothing to him. What were you like in school? I was a daydreamer. You could suggest to his teacher to sit him close to her and always make sure he is looking at her when she is giving instructions. (You may even want to have his eyes checked.) At home it may help to set a timer when you want him to complete a task (ten minute tidy up). This gives a tangible way to watch time go by and can be a good motivator. I have to look in my son's back pack with him everyday or we will miss homework assignments. Be consistent and always follow through when you tell him to do something. There could be a bit of a stubborn streak there. Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful

I use a timer with my 5 year old at home. It helps to keep him focused on time. At school, I don't know, but at home, the timer keeps him focused on getting one thing at a time accomplished. It has helped to some extent.

My son is 8 and he just started special education classes for reading. His reading was very poor and affected his spelling and phonics. So he had a hard time with keeping up with his class. We went through all of first grade with tutoring and even over the summer. When he got to second grade he fell more behind. That is when I asked the teacher about special education. My son is very good natured, does not act up and gets along well with others. He does not have ADD or ADHD, he just can't grasp his reading.
See if your son will tell you why he is slow at doing his work. Maybe he doesn't see the chalkboard or maybe its some sort of dyslexia problem---the only reason I say this is because we had my son checked for all these problems. Good Luck and remember "patience is a virtue"!!

Hi R.,
I'm a grandmother of 5. Being slow doesn't mean he is having difficulty, He may just be bored. Make sure he has plenty of opportunity to run and play and be creative. Maybe you could make a game: each interval that he worked hard and stayed on task you could put a marble in a jar and at the end of the week if he reaches his goal, give a reward or privilege. Start small and gradually increase your expectations so he can experience success. Stay upbeat and positive to foster a love of learning that can follow him throughout his school years.

You really need to have some testting done, make sure he is seeing ok and hearing, That way you can rule out things. Have the school check these things out, Also talk to teacher see if she or he has notice thing going on, maybe even talk to last year teacher. Also has there been any big changes for you that he has pick up on, or even stress, Kids pick on the smallest things. Have you tried talking to him about what is going on, Maybe he can give you some clues just asking him what is going on at school, maybe some kid is messing with him. It could be a number of things. But most of all talk to him first. Just ask point blank what is going on. There is a reason for his reaction.

Hi R., you are descibing my son to a tee. When he was in kindergarten his teacher wanted us to hold him back, because of the same issues you are having. We didn't because his father was put back, and it caused him much embarrassment. What the school didn't do, is suggest we have him tested for ADD, and we didn't know any better. He was not ADHD. There is a difference. We finally had him tested in 6th grade after taking him out of public school. He was diagnosed ADD, and read and spelled in the 97% range of all adults and children. He was put on medication, we had to try several before we found one that worked. He is almost 18 now, and hasn't taken meds for about 3 years. I so wish we had had him tested in 1st grade, it would have made such a difference in his self-esteem. When you get them diagnosed, the school districts can help you get him into classes that he needs, and help him if there are areas he is slow in. My son's problems were in math. He still has problems with keeping on task, or remembering things you tell him, but at least we know that there is a reason for it, and not just laziness, as my husband was accused of. I hope this helps you. Carla D

First off, don't put him on medication...it sounds to me like he might have a problem with ADD. If so, this seems to be something that he will have for life and to put him on medication will only postpone the fact that he will have to learn to deal with this problem later on. I suggest, and this takes hard work on your part, that you make sure his life is very structured. Get up and go to bed at a certain time, eat meals at a certain time, teaching him basic organizational skills is very important!, Remember to have him bring home books from school each night. Most kids say they have no homework, but they always do. Homework may only consist of going over what they did in school, but also getting ready for tomorrow's lessons. Maybe if he has reviewed the next days lessons he will feel more comfortable in getting it done the next day. Also BRIBES work. You may call them rewards or whatever, but everyday that he doesn't get in trouble at school and finishes his work, give him a star or whatever and at the end of the week (or whatever works best for you) give him an extra treat that he normally would not get. Most of all, and trust me, from my own experience, I know that this can seem like a minor problem in the lower grades, but as he progresses in school and in life, it can make the difference in whether he finishes school or in successful in life. It is sooooo very important to help him at this age. In little things like his papers, clothes, toys, help him to keep things organized. Get him a calender and help him keep track of different things, i.e., Sunday school, school days, visits to Granny, etc., each of these things will help him.
You do sound like a very beautiful and loving mother. That is one asset that many children lack through no fault of their own. Just remember YOU are the most important person in this baby's life. Good luck

By the sound of things, I would highly recommend having him tested for ADD. I had a nephew that sounded exactly like this and was put on meds in 2nd grade which helped him tremendously. by the time he was in Jr. High, he didn't need them anymore.

I think you should relax, and give him some time. My son tested the second highest in his Kindergarden entrance class out of all 5 year olds tested, by second grade he was behind and his teacher told me that he hoped he could do something to make money with his drawing because he sure wasn't capable of doing anything else in life. I was so angry I could have spit. By fourth grade he was 2 years behind in reading and didn't really care. I didn't know what to do. Then I had a very smart lady tell me to reladx and let him grow that boys sometimes do this because they don't mature as fast as girls and he would catch up . Of course I still stressed over it by sixth grade he was reading on a 3.5 grade level. Then over the summer break something happened and when he went back to school in the fall and the did thier testing he was reading on a 9.5 level it seemed that he had always known how just wasn't interested. He had finally matured enough to care. So he was actually absorbing everything that we were giving him he just did not express it at a young age. This very smart lady tells me now see I told you ,but when it's your child it is hard to relax and let them mature at thier own pace. By the way my son is now 18 ,he is on the A honor roll and has been all through high school,he is a member of the national honor society . He just signed his letter of intent with a very good college that has offered him a full scholorship based on football and academic performance I am very proud to be his mother. And the teacher that told me he would never amount to anything ,well we met the people who bought his house and apparently he was so drunk he couldn't teach anyone anything the took loads of wehiskey and beer bottles out of his basement and two barns . They said they had never seen that many . So just remember be patient he'll make it.

Part of me wants to say have him tested for ADD/ADHD, but the other part of me wants to say see if he outgrows it. My 9-yr old daughter has ADHD, and because we were in England, she started her medication at 4. We saw a complete turn-around within a couple weeks. I would have his eye-sight and hearing checked as well, we have been told by many doctors that many times, children with seeing or hearing problems are more likely to have ADD/ADHD. One thing you could try at home to see how your son does with it is giving him caffeine at home and seeing how he reacts. If he has ADD/ADHD the caffeine will have the opposite affect on him as it does someone without ADD/ADHD - meaning, he will be more calm and able to focus more easily. If you suspect he might have ADD/ADHD, Dr. Miller in Andover is absolutely wonderful - he is an ADD/ADHD specialist.

I have been battling this with my son since he was that age (he is now 12). As far as school, I would suggest you have the teacher put him in the front row of the class, that way the kids are all behind him and can't distract him. With my son, this helped a lot. About all you can do is keep up on him and let him know that he can't get away with it. I belive it is just being stubborn with my son. Is he is something that will get him excited that can be used as a reward (ie scouts, club)? Also, one way to encourage him to do what is right, TAKE AWAY loved items/toys. I have had to clear ALL toys and other items (except books) from my sons room numerous times (he loves to put together models) when he starts slacking on his schoolwork and/or chores. He usually shapes up in a week or 2. Meds are not the answer, no matter what people say. Kids today are over-medicated, when all they need is someone to let them know what limits are that what they are doing isn't ok. Unfortunately, most parents are afraid to set limits and have their kids unhappy with them.

My honest response is it is normal. My son was the same way for a few years in school, partially because he was bored and partially because I don't know why. He would miss recess quite a few times to finish up his work, but he was a good student otherwise. He is 10 now and still "forgets" most of his day at school. I would say if he's doing ok besides this, maybe he will get tired of missing recess and do it during class time. (My son has been fine the past 2 years with doing his work on time and not missing recess). Everytime I go for P/T conferences I always know I will hear...He is a good student, but he sure talks a lot. Good Luck, and I hope it is nothing, just something he grows out of like mine has.

My son is in kindergarten and has the same problem. I found that teachers will not tell you that they think he has ADHD, but if they are telling you often that he is having difficulty paying attention, then you need to do some research on the subject or get him professionally seen. It sounds just like my son and we have been just this past month putting him on ADHD meds. It doesn't zombie him out, but he is able to focus. Although, I didn't like Ritalin, the doctor was quick to change him to Adderall and I like that one better. The teacher will give you clues, but they will not come out and tell you as they are not able to diagnose him, but I think they are trying to tell you something. Definitely get him seen. It affects their self-esteem and they cannot make friends easily and they are lagging behind in school work. There is a world of info on the internet you can look at and see if you agree it is just like your son to have ADD Or ADHD.

i remember when i was little and in elementary school, when i had a hard time with something i would put it off and pretend i didnt have to do it. i would conviently forget about homework or whatever it was. my hard times were more 2nd grade (reading and comprehension) and 4th grade (long division). but that was just me. if he is putting something infront of his work like games then i am sure you have already thought of taking that away. but if it is more along the lines of really being out of it then more one on one time is probably best for him. good luck and just to say...he is so cute in that pic!

I am a retired school teacher, having taught from preschoolers through 6th grade. If I were you I would have my child evaluated for attention deficit disorder (ADD). True ADD can require medication to control which some parents don't like to use. I have seen students do a complete turn-around when placed on the medication. I have a grandson on the medication, and he is able to pay attention in class and complete his work on he takes the meds. It can only be prescribed through a physician, so I would recommend that you have your doctor evaluate your child.


These sound like classic symptoms of ADD Attention Deficit Disorder not to be confused with ADHD. Talk to your Dr. and see if medication is a good option for your sweetie. Try not to be resistant to suggestions of medication, you wouldn't deny him anti-biotics if he were sick, right? My daughter has ADD and it is a struggle every day. Patience will become a major obstacle for you so remember to know when to say "He is done for the night", and call it quits, no matter how much the teachers send home. Be careful about letting the teachers take too many recesses this can stunt his social development. Good Luck!! J.

How is his sleeping? Some of us think kids don't need more than 8 hours but they need more like 10. Also,might he have sleep apnea,or some other form of interrupted sleep? Our childrens' room were not very exciting by today's standards. There were no tvs,computers,or video type games until they were almost out of high school. they did,however have radios/stereos and listened to many things besides their music. They had at least 30minutes before "lights out", more if they chose. But they had to be ready for bed and could read and/or listen to music. Just food for thoght.

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