49 answers

How Can I Get My Son to "Focus" in School?

Hi, My son is gonna start his third week of kindergarten, and he has already been sent to the principals office. His teacher said that he had trouble "focusing" in class. What's up with that? My son did attend preschool, but they were not concerned about homework. Every time I asked about it, the teacher would reply, ' we didn't have time'. How hard is it to make copies from a single sheet of paper. Now that my son is faced with homework all the time, he doesn't always do it. His teacher said that she had to tell him several times to write his name at the top of his paper. She said, ' I had to get firm with him'. Here is my thing. He is only five years-old and this kind of school is new to him. His attention span is small and her being a kindergarten teacher, she should know that. She is not giving him enough time to get used to it. He is a smart boy, sometimes too smart for his own good. I know he will do good and be a great student. I sure hope that every time he does something that she doesn't approve of, that she doesn't send him to the office again. Does that mean she can't handle the kids? There are not alot of kids in the class. I think I am gonna talk to her and the principal next week. At home, I sit with him and he will only do homework for a few minutes. Do any of you know of a approach that I can use on my son with is homework? I don't want to be mean to him or scare him into doing it. Any advice?

2 moms found this helpful

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Featured Answers

All the advice given so far is pretty good...but don't dismiss the small comments here and there regarding his nutrition....keep him away from sugars, corn syrup and all the fake sugars...and then follow all the other advice.

1 mom found this helpful

I hear this problem a lot from moms. My son was in the same boat, his preschool teacher did no homework, and very limited circle time so school was a BIG adjustment for him.

Personally 3 weeks is not long enough to know how a kid is doing. If he works well at home with you (listening and such) then it is a personality conflict with his teacher. Could he change classes perhaps?

Also keep in mind there are 7 different ways people learn! He could be a kid who has to be moving to learn, or be outside, or he learns from hearing it said or reading it. There are so many ways to learn that it would take me pages to tell you ideas on how to help him without knowing exactly what type of learner he is.

As for homework, keep it short a page at a time. My son came home today with 4 pages of homework. We sat and tried it in one big chunk and that lasted like 10min. So we did a page, took a short wiggle break, did another and a break. He got it done much more quickly that way. There is NO rule that says homework has to be done all at once!


Try giving him a protien, whole grain rich breakfast. Too much sugar cereal or waffles with syrup will make him foggy. Try eggs and cheese with wholegrain toast.


More Answers

He is 5!
Give him a break. Kindergartners homework should not span more than 20 minutes for a WEEK, break it up it works to be about 5 minutes or so per day (Mon-Thur) depending on your child.
They are still learning, and sending a 5 year old to the principal in the first 2 weeks sounds excessive.
What in the world could he have done that the teacher could not fix herself?
I agree that you could volunteer in the class room, that will give you a clear picture of both your son AND his teacher. Although, I'm sure that her behaviour will be modified somewhat during your visits.
As a parent, you are allowed to surprise visit. Why not drop in to give your son a homemade lunch one day. Depending on how the class is set up, you could spend a few minutes or so outside and peek in....if possible.
Remember, your child - your gut feeling. Go with it!


2 moms found this helpful

GET HIM OUT OF THAT CLASS NOW. Forget trying to "make him". If he's not developementally ready, he's just not ready! It's almost impossible to diagnose ADD/HD after 3 weeks of class for a kindergarten child. While that may end up being the case don't jump the gun on that, and certainly not on the word of this teacher.

Any kindergarten teacher that is sending a child to the office for "not focusing" is never going to be a good match for your son. I'm sure he's bright, but if this continues his self esteem may start to plummet and then it won't matter how bright he is, he'll never learn. I don't know when is birthday is, but is it possible to hold him out for a year? Alot of this is developmental, and he just may not be ready.

Remember you are your childs advocate. Just because the school behaves in a certain way does not mean that it will work for your son. Take action, and good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,

My youngest went through the same thing. Here are some things that worked for us...

1) Carrots and sticks: Give your son incentives to stay focused and consequences when he fails. Make sure they're reasonable to start off with and work up to where you ultimately want him to be.

2) Do try to understand the teacher's point of view and support him/her. This may require you to visit, unannounced, your son's classrooms several times to get a good feel for what's going on. (I did this and the results were very enlightening.) It's worth the time off work, if you have to do that. If your son realizes he can play you and the teacher off each other, things will get even more difficult.

3) Monitor his activities at home. Is he spending too much time playing a game boy, computer games or watching tv? Try to limit this in favor of outside play, reading or almost anything else.

4) Allergies? This was a surprise factor in my son's issues. We had no idea he was allergic to cow's milk and he was drinking a ton of it each day! Once we got his allergies under control, we saw great imporvement.

5) Maturity. Is your son on the mature side of five or the immature side of five. With my son, he was immatue and this led to all sorts of issues. He eventually out grew many of them.

This is a tough one, ongoing. The hardest part is not making excuses for one's child but accepting that he may not be the best student right now. It's a learned behavior. With practice, both at home and at school, he can succeed.

Good luck

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,

I have to tell you that while I am not surprised at what has been going on with your son at school, it makes me very sad and upset everytime I hear of this. There is nothing wrong with your son and it is absolutely awful that anyone would assume he is ADD/ADHD based on what you have described. He is not "focusing" because he is not ready for what they expect of your 5 year old son. He is only 5. We have too many children, mostly boys, on medication or "bad boy lists" because our society wants them to behave in a way that is not "normal" to them. But, infact, our boys are very normal. They are each individuals and will come to their own in time. There are many things to do before diagnosing any disorder is even considered or assuming the problem is with your son.

Kindergarten is a very important time in a child's life. This will set the tone for how he will feel about learning and school. If he is told he "has problems", he will behave as though he has problems and it is possible that he could take on that role for the rest of his life.

I am a mother of a boy and a teacher, so I can speak from experience. I have had many boys in my class, all different and all have their own learning style. It is important to try and determine your child's learning style. Then find a school that will cater to your son's needs. That is what I did with my son. I also realized that while he is very intelligent and loves to learn, at 5 he was not ready to be in a "regular" school setting. So we stayed in a co-op type preschool and homeschooled for that year. We also stayed very social through playgroups, sports, classes, etc.
By the next year, I knew he was ready and I found a school that did not expect "cookie cutter" children, but realizes that teachers need to cater to each child's learning style in order for the child to succeed and be happy in school. Being happy is just as important. Also, having a school with a social-emotional curriculum would be wonderful. If private schooling is not possible, there are several wonderful charter schools that offer curriculums that design themselves to best serve each child, individually.

Another thing I did, well still do, is I never stop educating myself on how children learn,think, and develop. I have read a few books that I consider to be essential to all who are parents of boys, or work with boys in any way. My top two are Real Boys, by William Pollack and Raising Cain, by Kindlon and Thompson. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am so thankful for these books and that if I had any power over any teachers and parents, I would insist it be required reading. They are that revealing and amazing. You will learn so much about your boy, and all boys, and men.

Don't let the school or society bully you, M.. They will. You have rights, your son has rights. You can do this! I hope this helps. Please let me know if I can help you further.

1 mom found this helpful

All the advice given so far is pretty good...but don't dismiss the small comments here and there regarding his nutrition....keep him away from sugars, corn syrup and all the fake sugars...and then follow all the other advice.

1 mom found this helpful

First - let me gently say .... be nice to the teacher. You seem to have a negative view with the off hand comments - how hard to copy a sheet of paper, there is only a small number of students. We spend a lot of time getting certified, only to have parents tell us everything we need to do for their child.

That said ... You are going to have to be the hand at home. Kindergarten is where education officially starts according to the gov't. Because he now has homework, you will have to sit with him and make him do it. You can help to make it fun, but you have to sit and make him complete at least one activity at a time for homework. If you need to work him up to it, normally worksheets have sections, so have him do a section, then he gets to go play for 10 minutes, then work again.

If you can't make your son focus for more than a few minutes at home, imagine how difficult it is for an adult new to him to get him to focus along with 19 others. I have seen in my 10 years as a teacher that children mirror what their parents teach them. If you are willing to put in the time to help your son through this and truly emphasize the importance of him finishing an assignment and following directions from adults then he will step up. If he knows it is an option to not finish, he choose that.

I know that it is difficult and definitely a sensitive topic, but education does start at home. In general, parents who are strong advocates of education and who support the teacher generally have students who understand and accept/embrace the expectations held for them.

1 mom found this helpful

Be a Mom and make him do it. Tell him he does not have a choice. You are being too nice. Take stuff away if he does not do it. It sounds like there's a problem with your son and not the teacher. I'm sorry to say. Maybe he has ADD or ADHD. He should be taken to the dr. to be checked out, for his own sake. You are not being mean by making him do his homework. Is it possible he is dyslexic? Have a his vision checked also. If you do not take control of it now, he will turn into one of those horrible teenagers that fights you and does not listen to a word you say. Parents are too afrad to upset their kids by placing guidelines for them. IT'S YOUR JOB TO DO SO!

1 mom found this helpful

Dear M.,
Let me start by saying that I feel your pain. I just went through an entire year of that. My son is super smart, but had trouble with focusing and "time management". He is not ADD or any of those things.
Kinder is very different from preschool in the work and focus that is required of kids now. Often times boys are not yet ready to pay attention the way that girls do. As time goes on, it evens out, but Kindergarten is the hardest.

Homework - I went through a series of things to motivate my son into getting is work done. I'll mention a few.

1. Positive reinforcement was much more successful than negative!

2. After school I gave him an opportunity to play and run so that he could get some of his physical energy out and hopefully be more able to sit. (At his school they were not allowed to run.)

3. I made rewards for homework completion. Not treats or buying things. It would be doing things together that he really liked. We would have game time, or do science experiments. He loved this one!

4. Timer - I gave him a sand timer that he would turn over, and I would pick one piece of the page to complete before time ran out. (I picked an amount of work appropriate to the time given, as I still wanted him doing quality work and to keep it realistic.)

5. We would set time slots for things (a schedule). It would be a routine for after school. He and I would work it out together. This gave him a head's up on the day, plus put him into some control in the process, as he was part of the planning process. I am very big on keeping agreements, so since I let him make choices, I expected him to keep them if he was going to continue to get the option.

6. When he complained of homework being boring, I made games out of it -like having him first do the addition on his math page, and then "letting" him multiply the answer by 2. Or playing a game to see how big of a work he could come up with, so that the teacher would think that a first grader had written his paper. These were a little later in the year though. The point is that I played with how smart he was to motivate him.

These are just a few of the things we did. At school the teacher made sticker charts for the kids who had trouble getting their work done.

I found it very important to stay positive though. It takes a lot of patience. My son did complete 100 percent of his homework. There were times at his dad's house where he had some negative experiences with homework, and that was the hardest to undo. When that happened, it used to really set us back.

Those are just a few of the things that worked for us. It really does take a lot of patience and loving attention. But just like all those baby phases, this too shall pass. Actually, my son just started first grade, and homework will be starting next week, so we'll see how much this has "passed".

Best of luck to you. Feel free to contact me if you need more suggestions. I tried a LOT of things. Some worked better than others, and most worked for a period time and then it was on to a new game or approach.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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