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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?

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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.

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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!

M.,

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.

M.

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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!

E.

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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.

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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

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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.
Love,
G.

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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.

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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!

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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!
M.

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Hi M.,

As mothers we are sometimes firm and sometimes protective, hopefully always looking out for the best interest of our child. Right now it sounds like your son needs protecting. You have every right to be concerned. I think Gabby R. and Marla S. have given you very good advice, please read what they have written again for your little boy's sake. What is happening at that school sounds very wrong and it makes me so sad as a mom. If I were you I'd get him out of there asap. Actually, I wish he could come spend some time with my almost five year old daughter. She loves to play AND learn at home (and on outings) all day. She's learning all she needs to know at her own pace and without pressure! I bet there wouldn't be any (or much) trouble with your son in a different, less stressful learning/playing (he's only five!) environment. Children LOVE learning until someone comes along and makes it a chore! Please don't let this happen to your son and do let us know what you decide because we care.

Love,

S.

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Schoolwork needs to be regimented. School is repetition & home should be very much like that as well. The more routine things are for a child, the more secure they will feel - in themselves, their work, life. As far as schoolwork, he needs a specific time to do it. I give my kids (even at Kindergarten) a few minutes once arriving home from school to change & have a snack - then it is homework time. Do it while it is still somewhat fresh etc...It is a do until it is done thing. Back in early elementary, I sat with them until they had a grasp of everything they were doing & also to make certain penmanship was good etc.. Your son should not be making his own schedule of doing his homework - just as he shouldn't make his own schedule at school. For some kids school is a bigger adjustment than for others. The more routine you make it for him, the quicker he will get used to it. Of course, this also means that we (as parents) are just as much teachers as their school teachers:) Good luck & God Bless.

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I am a former elementary school teacher, and many times little boys just need an extra "bonus" year to get the wiggles out and build their attention span. My son has a June birthday and is extremely smart, probably just like yours, however, we did not send him to Kinder this year because his attention is still developing, he has a hard time sitting still and needs to be re-directed to stay on task. I don't know when your sons birthday is but it is so common nowadays to hold kids back one more year before Kinder, ESPECIALLY little boys who are already the youngest ones in their class. You have to think long-term too (Junior High, High School).

I am pretty sure you don't want to take your son out of Kinder, but many times these little issues plague kids throughout their school years. Sometimes parents of these children detain their kids later on in their academic career because they always seem to get behind. Trust me, it's hard to be objective with your own child, but even if they are smart, they sometimes just need an extra year to ripen. My friend sent her son this past year to Kinder (July birthday)and he struggled the whole way through, went to summer school and even after the summer session the teacher thought he may need another year of Kinder. My friend didn't detain her son and now he is in first grade but how do you think the rest of his academic career will be? I can only imagine they will be detaining him at some point in time.

I know it's only the first few weeks of school and you don't want to give up on your son's cabilities in Kinder, so some tips might be to use a kitchen timer to get him started on his homework. Use an "if" and "then" statement. "If you get your homework done, then you can watch your favorite show or go outside." Set the timer and let him plow through his work. Check in on him atleast once and praise him for his efforts, or get him back on track. Remember to always have him work in the same quiet space so there is consistency and a spot just for homework. Try not to have any distractions with siblings and tv.

Talking to the Principal or teacher is never a bad idea but try to have a positive attitude when you go in there. It's so easy to get over emotional about your kids, I do! Trust me, the teachers and Principal want your child to succeed too and they might have some good ideas for you to use at home and the teacher might have some strategies she might want to implement in the classroom as well. You want to maintain a good relationship with the staff. Your children get better care that way and you have many more years ahead of you at that school!

Good luck and keep us posted on your son.

K.

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You can't. He's a boy. Boys don't mature as quickly as girls, and they are little balls of energy. That is why kindergarten is supposed to be mostly learning through play. If you have any reservations about his readiness for kindergarten, you should hold off a year. Thanks to the "No Child Left Behind" Act, the school will no longer offer you this option. My daughter is in 2nd grade and has 3 kids in her class who cannot read AT ALL. They will just keep passing them up through the grades because they are not allowed to make them repeat a grade. You don't want this to happen to your son, as it will have lifelong consequences. School is not mandatory until age 7. Until then, it is your option to enroll him or hold him out. And kindergarten is not mandatory, either. If you wanted to you could wait until he is 7 and put him straight into 1st grade. Or, you could homeschool him one on one giving him plenty of time to run around in between short sessions. As long as you complete the first grade curriculum (which you can accomplish in less than HALF the time with only one student), they will put him in 2nd grade with his peers at age 7. I chose this option with my daughter, and I am so glad I did. She needed the extra time to mature, and she is so excited about going to school now! I think we force regimented school on our kids too early. I know so many parents who have their kids in preschool as early as two. By the time they hit first grade, they are burned out already. We need to let our kids be kids for a while, and then they do so much better once they are ready. Good luck with this. I know it's not an easy decision to make.

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I see you've gotten many responses, and most in line with what I was going to say. Our son turns 6 in October and he has just started kindergarten. He's fallen right in line and doing great. I consulted with several people when making the choice of putting him in last year and this year. Universally, psychologists, child psychologists, even a parenting coach told me to hold him back. My son's babysitter has been a preschool teacher for almost 30 years. She said she did not hold her son back, and to this day regrets it. Her son always struggled in school, and never ended up going to college. While her daughter has a masters degree. She believes if she had held him back one year it would have made a huge difference.

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Try a Montessori school. The Montessori method is the best for young children.

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Does your school have a guidance counselor? If so, talk to her. She can talk to the teacher if need be. Also, does your son have a summer bday. Maybe he would benefit from waiting until next year. It isn't like you can talk to him and make him realize that he needs to focus. He's too young for that. He probably isn't mature enough in that area eventhough he's smart.

Good luck, talk to someone at the school about it other than the teacher.
J.

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I would say as a teacher, I would just ask that you go to the teacher first. Maybe she needs a wake up call to be more patient. I know as a parent that we are all very protective of our kids. Maybe she over reacted by sending him to the principal. But I would give her a chance before you go meet with the principal. I have resolved issues this way. That stinks that they did not give him homework in preschool! That does not make any sense. Just for future reference, the teacher supplies have great stuff to work on with your child if you need something. There use to be a store called the Parent-Teacher Connection or something like that. Maybe there is one of those by you. Have you tried positive reinforcement? I have found that works great with my students. Most kindergarten teachers give their kids a star for the day or something like that. Tell your child you will reward him each time he has a good day. It could be a sticker, a pat on the back, a toy, etc. That is what I do with my students. Or you two can set up a specific behavior plan for your child. It has only been three weeks but it wouldn't hurt. If he has trouble listening to directions you could make it specifically for that. Same thing. Each day he does well he gets a little reward, even if it is just praise kids usually respond to that. Good luck!

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Hi M.,
My oldest son was a very active little boy and his kindergarten teacher actually had me test him for hyperactivity problems. The psychiatrist said he could concentrate when he wanted to and he wasn't ready for the heavy structure that the teacher imposed on the class. Boys (I have three) do develop more slowly than girls in the fine hand motor and other areas. They sometimes are not ready for kindergarten today because it is no longer kindergarten...it has become 1st grade and there is little time for fine hand coordination development, gross motor activities, etc. The teachers are so anxious to meet the standards, they push paper work. I personally do not think that there should be homework in kindergarden. They have already concentrated on things at school and need time to relax and run around, play, etc. I do not know when your son's birthday is, but if he is not an "old" almost 6 year old kindergartener, you should consider pulling him out and putting him in a pre-K class somewhere so he will have another year to mature. It probably would be the best thing you could do for him. I kept 2 of my sons back and have never felt I did the wrong thing by doing this. They were more mature and could take leadership rolls, had more developed motor skills for sports, and did well academically. The one I didn't keep back, I think as far as maturity and learning leadership roles, etc., it probably would have helped him too.
Now is the time to do this. It is far easier and will not have any consequences down the road. If he needs to be held back later, it would be much harder (I know, I had 2 5th grades:)
I hope you carefully consider this advice. He does not need a horrid year in kindergarten. It is a poor start to his schooling.
Sincerely,
H.

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Dear M.:

You want your child to LOVE learning. It is my opinion that he will never learn to love learning in that environment. It sounds too regimented and the expectations are for a much older child. It is not developmentally appropriate to expect a five year old to sit and do copy work for extended periods of time. Many people would recommend forcing him to fit into the "mold" and eventally, yes, he would probably do so. But I think that the cost would be too high.

There are alternatives (but they depend on your finances) such as Montessori education, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia or even homeschooling. These are all known to work but are simply not the first options parents think of. I hope you're in a position to consider these alternatives. It is better to provide him with an educational plan that fits his learning style/personality/age and reduce these needless battles than to stifle his gifts to accomodate a teacher, classroom or administrator. He is a very young child and at this age, he should be "discovering" his world, the way it works and the way he fits into it. By using his strong sense of wonder, a good teacher could help him learn many necessary things without all this negativity.

In addition, all of this conflict and the spirit of disapproval will cause him to conclude that HE is a problem. I don't believe anything you said indicates any learning disabilities but even so, people are so prepared to spot pathology in a normal five year old boy! I wouldn't want you to diminish your child's uniqueness by exposing him to this sort of critical environment.

I hope you make the best choice for your dear son.

Best wishes,

M.

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Pull him out and send him when he is 6. He obviously isn't ready for kindergarten. My mom was an elementary school principal for 30 years, and it was her firm belief that boys who are sent to kindergarten too early are often set on a bad course that follows them all through school. She always recommended that boys not start kindergarten until the age of 6. So give your son another year and you will be giving him a huge advantage. And next year, request a different teacher, just to be on the safe side.

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I believe the most pressure I have ever gone through is getting my sons through school. (No problem with my daughter. Most girls like school.) My boys (in their 30's now) are both VERY bright, but you would see them breaking pencils, deliberately dropping things so they could take a break by picking it up, forgetting to bring home homework assignments etc. All I can say is hold your son back. I put one of my sons in a year of private kindergarten (he didn't need more preschool) and then had him repeat the grade in public school. In that way, he and the other kids, did think he failed or was held back. Nobody knew. That son now has a masters degree. The older son that I did not hold back who is just as bright wound up with two years of college. If you are the smartest, most mature, and successful in school, you'll love it and want to continue. If it is a struggle because you are having trouble focusing, you will grow to hate it.
Good luck. I know how much pressure you are feeling and it will get worse through the years if things do not change for your son.

Maybe you should think about setting up a reward system for your son. He can earn stars for his good sitting, good listening and good attitude during homework time and if he accumulates "x" number of starts during a certain period, he can earn a prize from the treasure box or a certain reward. Make sure that the reward fits the number of stars that he has to earn and the amount of time that he has to earn them. If you are going to start out by rewarding him for his daily success, then a tootsie pop or stickers or the like would be fine. Later on, after he has cooperated during homework time for a week or two, the prize can be something a little bit more coveted. They say it only takes 21 days to change a habit so, if it is just that your son isn't used to the new routine, it should take too long for him to start understanding what's expected of him and cooperate.

He's five. An adults "focus" changes every 8 seconds, it is shorter for a child. If your teacher doesn't know this, you may want to ask her about her teaching syles in her classroom. Children do not focus unless they are engaged, ask her what she is doing to engage your son. DO NOT asuume that because she is the teacher that she is right. I have been a teacher for MANY years and I will tell you, if there are 20 kids in the class the teacher MUST learn 20 learning styles, but some teachers focus on one, their own. Hang out in the class for a bit, it will be well worth your time

It is possible that your child is not ready for school yet. Does he have to go?

I can give you some advice on what kids of nutrition he probably needs if you want.

B. H. B.A.;B.Ed.
Family Nutrition Coach

Hi M.,
You have excellent questions. I am a teacher, and so I will tell you that your son's age may be part of the problem. For some reason, boys seem to mature slower than girls and so they often need an additional year to "grow up". Having your son attend one more year of preschool would be quite advantageous for him, if you are able.
If your son is having difficulty focusing, that means that he may not be gaining the core content the rest of the class is gaining, and he could be falling behind. Although most teachers are equipped to deal with children with focusing issues, getting the support of parents (early on) can often help a child to gain enough reinforcement at home to gain those necessary skills. That old adage "it takes a village to raise a child" is being expressed in its truest form in this instance. If those skills are not obtained by the end of the year he could be retained. So, this is your opportunity to make a positive impact on your son's learning with the help of your son's teacher.
Focus and maintaining attention is partly a learned skill (and partly a maturity factor), but there are things you can do to assist him at home in this area. Initially, you should be sitting with him and walking him through his homework to make sure he understands it until it is ALL complete. You may be having to put him back on track a few times, but it will eventually pay off. If the homework is something he is familiar with you could always use a timer. Make it a race to see how quickly (and neatly) he can get it done. And when he completes it in the specified time, than reward him. A sticker chart for completed work (with a prize as a goal) can be an excellent motivator. The prize can be something as simple as a trip to get a dish of ice cream or a trip to the park to play ball. Most kids love having time with mom or dad as a reward. Also, please keep in mind it may take a few months for him to learn this routine. He is young, so he will need a lot of support from you in this critical time of establishing these skills.
Reading to your son is another great way to learn focusing skills. You can always make a trip to the local library to check out books. Having him help by turning the pages, and asking him questions will help to keep him engaged. These are tricks teachers use to engage the kids in the story.
I hope I haven't overwhelmed you with too much info. Best of luck!

U can be a volunteer at the school or the classroom. Get involved and do educational things with him. I was and always have been involved with my children. The teaching starts at home. He may be just acting out also to get attention. But it is always good to talk with the teacher. I even started schooling mine at home before they was 2yrs of age. So wen they got into preschool they could already write their name.

I kept my son at home until he was 6-it was not the academics I was worried about, it was the whole picture(could not sit still but not ADHD)- best decision I have ever made-very successful in school, GATE the whole bit A's and B's. I wanted his school enviroment to be successful. He is 17 now and still getting A'and B's and trying to get into an NCAA college for hockey.(I also believe in a sport like hockey to get the activity worked out of him-plus they have to follow coaches instructions and play as a team- great skill building for the future)
I have my teaching degree and thought this best for him,He says he is glad I did it. You may want to talk to your school and see what they suggest. I don't know why they would send him to the principals office-that seems strange. If he starts hating school now it will be a long road for the both of you(I hate to say this but maybe pulling him out and waiting a yr will be the answer, definitly get him tested for ADD/ADHD) If you pull him out,you can tell him his school ended til next yr so he does not feel people did not want him. You can also put him into another yr of preschool-you are in charge. Best of Luck

Hi M.,

My advice is to volunteer in class. Once a week for an hour or what ever your schedule alows. I have 3 girls and helped in all their classes intil they started middle school. They all do very well in school. I found it very rewarding. The kids see that school is important to you and it will become more important to them. And it doesn't heart that they know you will be seeing the teacher every week. I feel it helps them be on their best behavior.

Good luck,
A.

My two cents....My son is 11 and i still have to remind him to put his name on his paper! :) School is now designed for girls not boys and while I agree you have to work with a teacher as a team and boys need discipline you are also your son's advocate. Your son is probably very bright but maturity is the key to getting through linear school programs. it might serve him better to do a junior kindergarten program or to just stay back one year. You may freak out at first but older mothers will tell you it can be the best thing for a boy. Then they become the oldest in the class, a leader, they grasp things more quickly so it's good for their self-confidence. think about it carefully before these early years damage your son's positive attitude toward learning. I know, my son is the oldest in his class and it's been great for him.

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!

As a non involved party I read 2 things from your post-the teacher needs more patience, And 2 you need to realize that your child may be a problem in class. Imagine if you were the teacher, and you had 20+ 5 yr olds. Try meeting with her, and ask-what can I do that will help him? I held my son back this year, because I know he can not sit still for any period of time. I just hope that changes this year.

A friend of mine has been going through something very similar. Her son also had some difficulty in preschool. She has noticed that he does much better when he has a high protien breakfast. When he has dairy or carbs (cereal, waffles etc) it is a bad day. (especially if there's any sugar, maple syrup involved. I don't know if you are already doing this... I have noticed a complete personality shift in him when he has sugar. He can't focus at all. I just thought I'd mention it. Best, H.

M.,

I liked Michele's comment about making sure he has a non-sugary breakfast. It really makes a huge difference. My son is 4 and in Junior Kindergarten (in his school it's between Pre-K and K). I can really tell the difference in my son's attention span when he eats less sugar. He also has a lot of classwork and homework (which is relatively new to him too). We made an agreement that everyday that he does his class & homework and tries hard, he gets to put a baseball on his "good behaviour chart" and a glow stick to play with in the evening (find something cheap he loves- like stickers). At the end of the week (if he earned 5 baseballs on his chart), he gets a small toy (his choice right now is Bakugan or Hot Wheels cars). :)
The chart system has been working wonders for us. It's not always easy for him to sit still for a long time- they are small children for goodness sakes. It doesn't help my son that my husband and I also have very restless personalities. We like to go go go! He is so much like us, but the reward system has helped him enjoy doing his writing and makes him proud.
Good luck to you. I wouldn't rush to any ADHD conclusions, most boys prefer to run around a wreak havoc rather than sit quietly and write. Where's the fun in that? :)

M.,

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.

M.

I really appreciated Jenn's and Emma's advice. My son had the same issue in kindergarten. I think the teacher didn't understand my son (he's not a "typical" boy and thinks differently, on top of being sensitive), and she didn't want to deal with him. It got so bad for him that she'd put him in a desk in the corner and single him out. She went so far as to have him tested for "special ed" classes because she just knew he had a "problem". In the end, leaving him in her class traumatized him - and me. I could hardly have a conversation with later teachers without crying because of the way he was treated. Now I am VERY active in his classes and educational plan and know exactly what goes on. When I get no (or a rude) response from his teacher, I immedately go to the administrator and take care of the issue. It is not that I expect special treatment for my son, but I do expect FAIR treatment. School should NOT be a punishment, which is what it will become with a teacher who is not qualified or capable of teaching your son. As the other moms said: trust your instincts and don't ever worry about questioning or confronting an issue. You are your son's biggest ally.

The teacher sounds like she is out of line. I can't believe she sent a kindergartner to the principal's office because he wouldn't "focus"!

It is his 3rd week of school and he is 5 years old. This is all new to him. I think you are absolutely right on, to talk to the principal and the teacher. Is she a new K teacher? She obviously doesn't have much patience with kids. Hope you can get through to her so your son will have a better experience.

Dear M.,

Have you ever considered bribery? What I mean by that is that I have a daughter in Kindergarten also and the only way that I can get her to do her homework is that if she does finish it she can get on the Barbie website and play for a little while. Sometimes if you offer an outside treat, something that he enjoys doing that he wouldn't normally do it helps with that encouragement. It's not to say that there are days when she won't do her homework but then she won't be able to do the afternoon things that she enjoys. As far as what the teacher is doing, you need to be proactive when it comes to your kids. If this teacher is doing this to your son, what is to say that she is doing this to other children too. If you can speak to other parents in the classroom and see what they have to say. You might have to move him to another class. Sometimes we parents need to push at the educators to make sure that that our children are getting the best information possible. Also there are programs that the school do not tell us about. The State of California has programs that all children between ages 3-18 can be tested and if they find that they do need extra help, this can be given to all children at no charge to you. If this is needed, check with your local school district and see what they have available. Not all parents are given this information but help is out there and it is available to all. Good luck

K. F

Hi

YOur son is young so focusing may come in time. BUT you might also consider having the school test your son for ADD or ADHD. Children with this learning disability have trouble focusing and for a teacher to force a child with ADD or ADHD is way off. There are strategies but first you must rule out if the the childs behavior is normal or is there a learning disability. Please do no confuse ADD or ADHD with intelegience. Send a written letter to your school requesting a test for ADD/ADHD, at no cost to you. In your letter state that the teacher has expressed her concern for your child inattention and you yourself have had difficulty.
If you get help for your son early that is the key to a successful future.

Here's my two cents worth:

My son is a very creative child and must be engaged to learn. He had a rough time with a teacher in 2nd grade. It is still my opinion that she would be better off teaching 6th grade or Jr. High. After a very disturbing message from her on my cell, I met with the principal and almost demanded for him to be removed to another class. I told the principal I was done with this woman and would not back up anything she did in the classroom. It's very hard to get the administrators to move kids around after the classrooms are "set" you will have to fight for it.

He was moved to a teacher others said they didn't like who was very demonstrative, very caring and very loud. He LOVED HER! He's in third grade and thriving.

If he is having trouble working independantly at home, you might want to decide whether he's ready for K.. my same son repeated Kindergarten and it did very good things for him, he was more mature, and better able to handle K.

If your worried he'll get made fun of for being older, he won't be alone - I was oldest in my class and it was fine. Even a source of pride.

Go with your Gut!

L.

It's amazing to me how other parents have been sucked into believing everyone has ADD and ADHD. The thing that sucks about it is that the first remedy for that is psych meds. Those "meds" are soooo damaging to anyone who takes them. Why do you thing kids who are on Ritalin sell them to classmates as drugs? It sounds like your son might not understand what is expected of him or what he's supposed to do. The teacher might be using words that he doesn't understand and it's making it hard for him to pay attention and focus. Make sure he undersands all the words in his homework. Maybe you should start with homework. What is homework? It's actually very simple. If you have any questions about this, send me an email and I can direct you to a book that will help you understand how we learn.

A kindergartener shouldn't have much homework, and not every night. Also, if he is one of the younger ones in the class, he may not be ready for kindergarten. You may want to hold him back, or repeat K. This is very common for boys.

Hi, M.,

I don't know your son's teacher, so I can tell you only what I would do based on my experience as a student and a teacher. When I was your son's age, I was a little behind because the previous year I experienced a serious illness that caused me to lose my memory of vocabulary. My mother tutored me every day after school. By second grade, I was put in the most advanced group in my grade. In seventh grade, I was classified as gifted. I don't know how long my attention span was when I was five, but I know that I made a lot of mistakes when I started grade school. I recommend breaking the amount of time your son needs to do homework into short segments, if you can.

I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that your teacher can't handle the kids. Have you considered sitting in your son's class for an hour or so? Based on your class observation, you, your son's teacher and your son might be able to develop a plan to help your son get used to school. Be patient with your son and his teacher. Sometimes it takes a few years to get used to school.

Good luck,
L. E

Sorry to hear that you are struggling with the traditional school system. It's unfortunate, but schools are not equipped to handle the needs of young boys. There have been plenty of articles recently outlining the decline of boys' success in the current school environment. It's not in their DNA to sit still. They need to be free to run and jump and play, especially at this age. Not only that, but the anatomy of a boy's cerebral development is much different than that of a girls. Add to that the fact that each child develops differently on a physical level, as well... and well... it's really just a small amount of boys that are able to sit and write their names at the top of the page.

Sending your son to the prinicipal's office or getting firm with him is no way to instill any confidence in him. Unfortunately, going to the teacher and prinicipal will probably only land you in some sort of testing and contract situation. There are alternatives to schooling your boy. I don't know what your situation is, but I am currently homeschooling my son while sending him to a pre-school three mornings a week. The pre-school time is more for socializing (i.e. running, jumping, and playing with other boys) but I am teaching him his math and language arts skills. He is incredibly bright, but I know without a doubt that he would fail miserably in a traditional school environment.

Take heart. Your son is a wonderful kid. And you are a good mom. Focus on that and all will resolve itself.

If you can, get him a different teacher. Children in kindergarten should not be given busy work and have it labeled homework by the teacher. I would definitely talk to the administrator and the teacher as soon as possible.

Dear M.,
I am a mom of a child who has a difficult time focusing, as well as a teacher. This gives me a different perspective on things. First, you and the teacher need to work as a team. Don't feel like the teacher dislikes your child or is attacking your parenting skills. Your child's teacher wants your child to succeed too. It sounds like you both need to get on the same team. I would suggest setting up a behavior contract with certain goals in place. Start with what your son does well and narrow the behavior goals to one or two that you think your son can master. For example, will write his name without being asked on his work or will remain focused for at least 5 minutes. Have a chart that will help your son monitor his goals and so that you can see what is happening in the classroom on a daily basis. Use the chart for home rewards/consequences. When is has a successful day he gets to __________. Or on an unsuccessful day he will __________. Your son's teacher can use the chart for the same type of rewards/consequences.

One approach I use in the classroom for students who have a difficult focusing is using a timer. I have several sand timers that time 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, or 5 minutes. I set the timer for a student and say, "See if you can finish the highlighted problems by the time the timer runs out." I highlight a reasonable amount of problems. If they are successful they take a "sensory snack." What is a sensory snack? It is a time for a child to take a break in a way that is comfortable for them i.e. walk to the bathroom, get a drink of water, deliver something to the office, read a book with a stuffed animal, etc. Some kids just need to get up and move. This allows them that opportunity. You can use these strategy's at home for homework.

You do need to let your son know that you are in charge in a way that you are comfortable with. Starting good homework skills early will help later in his schooling. Don't make it a battle. Make it a bonding, fun time. My personal opinion is that a Kinder child should not be doing more that 10 minutes of worksheet type homework. If anything, be sure you are reading with or to your child at least 20 minutes a day. Studies show this helps your child be successful in school!

Monitor your child's behavior and what he eats and see if diet can help some of his attention problems. Obviously feeding your son sugary cereal and sugary fruit juice in the morning before school will not help his situation.

Good luck and remember that you and your child's teacher both want the same thing!

Check the California Content Standards, online-google california content standards. I believe the Kindergarten standard requires K teachers to teach all upper case and lower case letters during this year. All students must be taught how to write their name, not just expected to do it. And if he is having trouble writing his, the school is required to help him with that. That is the curriculum.

I would contact the principal immediately and set up a meeting with him and the teacher to try to get this problem solved. Don't feel that you should be expected to do everything.

Hello, M.,

One big help with our children and their focus is to eliminate all processed foods from their diet. Watch what happens...

My very best,

T.

My frined's son was like this in kindergarten. He did fine in preschool, but he had trouble paying attention in kindergarten. He couldn't follow directions and would get bored easily. He even bothered the other kids in class. After a conference with the teacher, he started seeing the school counselor and as it turned out, he had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. So, with this knowledge, the teacher and parents were able to come up with a plan to help him and now (in second grade), he is doing much better.
If this persists, I would talk to the teacher and find out If he needs additional help.

I hope this doesn't upset you but, I don't believe that the problem is with the teacher. If she wasn't able to handle the kids the entire class would be in the office. If your son is the only one that is being sent up to the office, maybe your son is having a hard time. If you can only get his to sit for short periods of time and that is one on one...imagine how he is probably disrupting the rest of the class. I understand the need as his mother to place the blame elsewhere, but the teacher has been trained and I am sure that the activities are age appropriate or your son wouldn't be the only student in the office. Teachers usually send students to the office as a last resort and there was probably more to it then you have heard. There are other kids in the class that deserve an education and if there is one disruptive student preventing that, the student should be removed.

Have you considered having your son tested for ADD/ADHD or other learning disorders? There are non-medication ways of treating the disorder and it will help him focus and stay on task. Either way you should speak to your son about the appropriate way to act and teach him how to ask questions if he doesn't understand. If you don't feel that he is being treated fairly or that your concerns are being addressed in the appropriate way you might want to look into an alternate form of education.

My son had the same problem in kindergarten. It sounds so much the same Principals office, having trouble focusing in class.then he was called being a bad boy. the teacher even wanted him to go to school only 4hrs a day for 3 days only. He wasn't focusing as much she needed him to. i thaught that maybe it was teacher so i asked to have him evaluated they checked his eyes, ears and behavioral problems. it was discovered that he has ADHD. Im NOT saying everyone who is having trouble in school has ADHD but at least check all possible areas out like his eyes or his hearing its better to rule everything out rather than wait. I also use the rewarding for doing homework it works. hope everything works out for you and your son

Let me be honest and say that I'm homeschooling my 5 year old. And even at home (we have a little "school" area) we don't do more than 20 minutes at a time. Kindergarten is not mandatory, I know a few moms who opted out and their kids are doing great in higher grades. Kindergarten is supposed to be a lot of learning through play. Learning letters through books, learning numbers by counting at the store, etc. So probably your son can't sit there and be patient with the other 19 kindergartners, sounds normal to me. The best advice I was given that if you have that feeling like he needs time to mature, give it to him. Don't let others tell you he'll be behind, you'll find that when he's ready, he'll do just fine. And remember, he'll have plenty of time to sit and do dittos, let him grow and play and learn just by being. God Bless.

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