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Focusing in School (K3)

My son turned 3 years old in October; however, has been attending K3 since Sept. He just had his second "review" to find out what he has learned this year. The "review" is held in the class where other kids are playing, parents are dropping of their kids and some stay to chat - in the classroom. He did rather well but his teacher said he has a "hard time focusing" and that he should stay back in K3 next year. My husband and I have decided to move him on to K4. Are we doing the right thing in thinking that he will learn to focus as he matures? How does one teach a child to focus?

What can I do next?

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he's only 3. 3 yr olds don't really have much focus you can only count on one minute per year. I'm not exactly what his teacher is looking for but a typical 3 yr old is very busy and dosn't want to sit and focus on anything. Once he's 4 his focus will improve. Personally I wouldn't worry until kindergarten or even first grade if he's not focusing then thats when you need to start looking at ways to help him focus.

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I would say leave him back in K3. I think it would be better to leave him back in an earlier class than to have him go forward and say, in 3rd grade, have to be held back. As stated previously, schools will not let him enter early. I had a November birthday and was the oldest in my class. If you are looking to put him in a school funded K4...I seriously doubt they would allow that. Teaching a child to focus is not the issue. He's 3 and should be allowed to develop. In my opinion, people are using schools way too early and expecting way too much out of children who are still so young.

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I'm a former school teacher and first I would say to get more information!

If you go back to the teacher and ask for another teacher to review you son's case and give specific reasons he should be held back, you will probably feel better about whatever you decide. Then, sleep on it, take the time you need, and then make a decision.

Secondly, I have to say that as a teacher, when it's warranted, it is much, much better to "hold back" early. Boys, in general, have a harder time early on in school. It is NOT unusual for them to "repeat" a grade early. If it must be done, the earlier the better!

Finally, I have a 4-year-old who will be repeating Pre-K. She turns 5 on September 10th and misses the cut-off. I'm THRILLED! My first born is quick and verbal and "gets it." My 4-year old is creative, and physical, and kind of all over the place. It's fine. No one child is better than the other, I just see how my little one can benefit from a little extra time with those emergent skill sets.

Good luck!


2 moms found this helpful

he's only 3. 3 yr olds don't really have much focus you can only count on one minute per year. I'm not exactly what his teacher is looking for but a typical 3 yr old is very busy and dosn't want to sit and focus on anything. Once he's 4 his focus will improve. Personally I wouldn't worry until kindergarten or even first grade if he's not focusing then thats when you need to start looking at ways to help him focus.

2 moms found this helpful

That "review" thing sounds kind of bizarre to me. What kinds of things do they ask? Like letter and number identification? Days of the week?

"Developmentally appropriate instruction" is a concept that all right-minded early childhood educators cling to.
And pouring facts into children (like water into a pitcher) and seeing how much they can parrot back is NOT appropriate for preschool. Nor is the "drill and practice" of flashcards, or "learning by rote." (Actually, it's not a good method for teaching any age group, including adults, but I digress.) At the preschool stage, is all about exploration, make believe and playing. Check out "Einstein Didn't Use Flashcards" by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD., and Roberta Golinkoff, PhD.

Numerous studies have shown that children who are enrolled in preschools and kindergartens that stress academic and didactic instruction become *less* creative than children who are in programs that emphasize playtime and make believe. "Play is the work of a young child", as Jean Piaget said.

"Kindergarten readiness" is more about self care (Can he put on his own jacket? Take his shoes on and off? Go the the bathroom independently?) If the school does circle time, it may be important for him to be able to sit fairly still for 5 or 10 minutes. And basic social skills, like being able to share without completely wigging out, or be capable of 30 seconds of "clean up" before moving to the next activity.

I have a friend whose boy Nick is 11 days younger than mine - they are both August babies, so they are always the youngest in their class. They met in the infant room at a daycare, and moved up together through each transition. Nick was always very clingy and emotional during each transition. Even now, when I babysit him, he tends to get upset over very minor setbacks and say "I want my mommy!" - I mean, he's just a little slower emotionally. In some areas, like drawing, forming letters, creating art and music, he's really impressive! But, because of the emotional thing, the teachers, principal and parents have decided to wait another year for kindergarten. And the parents are *fine* with it. (It was a little jarring at first, but they observed him closely, thought about it, considered the possibility of being held back at the second grade instead, and gradually warmed up to the idea.)

There's even another little boy at the school, he's in 3rd grade now. The kid got held back for kindergarten - again because of the emotional development thing. And at that time, that was the right decision. But a few years later,
he's always the class clown, cutting up and stuff. The parents get him tested, and it turns out the kid's a genius among geniuses. He's like those 12-year-old kids that go to Harvard - they have a PhD before they are old enough to drink beer. The school is pretty understanding, and everyone, the school, teachers, parents are scrambling to to keep him occupied and interested in school, while still keeping him with his age group.

The point is... it really shouldn't be about what they "know" or "don't know". It ought to be "what can they handle" and "are they emotionally ready".

1 mom found this helpful

A. -

I find it kind of amusing that anyone would suggest holding a 3 year old back due to focusing issues...seems like the world is hell bent on putting our kids in a box and labeling them one way or the other. Here's my two cents...

Three year olds are naturally curious and easily distracted in general - some more so than others, but it's a normal thing. If he is being disruptive, then that's another issue altogether. I wouldn't be overly concerned at this point.

Some things you can try to help him learn to focus longer are:

- work on a puzzle together, or another task that requires his full attention for an extended period of time. Insist that he finishes it with you.

- have him do "sit time". This requires sitting still for short periods of time. I did this with all 5 of my children and it worked beautifully. Basically they sit still in a chair with their hands folded in their lap. Start at 1 minute and work your way up to 15 or more. My youngest, who is a 4 yr old boy, can sit still for up to an hour no problem. Training them to self control is so beneficial for both them and you.

- reward him when he does it. Take him for a special walk with Mommy, read him an extra bedtime story, etc.

I wish you the best! These little years go by so quickly...enjoy your sweet boy!

God bless. Warmly - J.

1 mom found this helpful

My husband and I held back our son for K4. His birthday is right before the cut-off here (sept 1). We did not feel at the time he was ready for kindergarten last year because of his fine motor skills and social interactions. He attended K3 and then did two years of K4. I was told that if I sent him to kindergarten that it was pretty much left up to the school if they would pass him onto the next grade. My husband knew that the school would push him ahead as he displayed no academic problems at all. We just knew him better than the schools and knew he needed that extra year for maturity. We thought it would be better for him to be one of the older kids than one of the youngest kids especially when you hit the high school age. I had a friend of mine that was held back in 8th because his parents did not feel he was socially mature enough for high school. Before we moved here from Michigan, it had been recommended through the school to place my son in the next grade level up and then into their young 5's program (which unfortnately South Carolina does not have in the public school) and then kindergarten. When we moved here, we thought it was best just to have repeat K4 again before placing him into the public school system since we still had control of it. Personally, I would put him in the K4 if you feel he is socially ready. I wouldn't worry about the focus issue. He is only 3. My son is five and his focus is just beginning to improve. He will actually sit and watch a show now. I would re-evaluate in the K4. Some where in there I think I would hold him back just because of his late birthday. I have never heard a parent say they regret holding their child back a year. I think K3 is a little early just because of the growth of maturity between 3 & 4 (at least what we saw in our son). We just knew at the end of last year our son was not ready for full-time school. We knew he would do better being the older kid rather than the younger. You know your son. If you think he is ready for K4, then put him in. You can re-evaluate it again in a year. I think there were too many distractions in the room when they assessed him. The best thing we did for my son was to hold him back a year. He has just flourished this year.

As children get older the focus gets better I wouldn't hold him back he may become bored. After next year if he's still having problems then I would see more advise on getting him to focus and talk to your doctor about it During next school year. I'd have the new teacher next keep you up dated monthly on how he is doing so that you can act upon it before he enters kindergarten it all depends on what she means by not being able to focus. If he running around the class when he should sit down and unable to control himself at age 4 during next year you don't want a repeat of that in kindergarten trust me. I can also say this I had a problem with my son who was finally by 4 doctors different and didn't know about each other I was told after much paper work my son had ADHD. It's not a bad thing either but I can say keeping him out an extra year from kindergarten was the best thing I ever did for him, if I had it to do again I'd do the same. Boys have it hard they really are not as mature as girls at the same age it's been that way for years and still is. The worst thing a parent can do in my opinion is to push a child were they aren't ready to be. My son I held back after a try in kindergarten I did withdraw him he was doing poorly had a birthday in August it's too close to the cut off date which I think didn't help him. He now is in first grade he's able to read, write, do math he's also on honor roll every grading period. It's the best thing I ever did. Just listen to the teachers sometimes they do know what a child can handle. A doctor very well known in his field said to me " it's far better to be the big fish in the classroom then to be the little fish and struggle to keep up if at all", my son is the big fish now and I'm very proud he's doing it with the struggle. My best wishes to you on what you feel is best for your family.

You are absolutely doing the right thing. First of all he is a boy (I have a 2 and a 5 year old boy). Boys learn so much through their body and are so much more busy than girls. Second, he is only three and three years old often have problems focusing and sitting still. Where does he go, maybe you should find another place. How many kids are in his class? What is the children/teacher ration? Have you been there to observe the class?
My 5 year old have had the same issues and when I observed I understood why, when they were working on numbers in a group someone was vacuuming at the same time and the children were placed in a way so my son had his back towards the teacher. Could I focus in that environment? No, I would totally loose interest.
Your child could have more focusing problems if you held him back because he would be so bored. In my opinon it sounds crazy to talk about holding back a three year old.

I wish you all luck

Honey I say move him on up. My son is in a speech therapy program at school and the teacher and therapist told me that for 3 years old if they can get him to focus for 3 to 5 minutes on 1 task then that is good. I believe as they get older they will learn to focus more and at home we can help. I was told by the therapist to read a book or color, or play some type of game. If I could get him to stay focused for 5 minutes that would be good, 10 would be great but she said whatever I do, DO NOT let him "stop" the activity himself. So if he gets tired of reading we have to finish the book, even if I hurry it along, so that he can learn that we don't stop an activity because he wants it stopped, but it's over when the adult says it's over. This will teach him respect as well. Hope this helps. Good blessings.

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