41 answers

My Kindergartner Son Is "Unfocused" and "Spaces Out" According to the Teacher

Hi All,
My son is a really smart 5 year old and can retain oodles of info when it is a subject he is interested in, like bugs or snakes. But when they are doing their regular classroom work he is "spacing out" and is losing recess sometimes because he does not finish his work. Teacher says he asks her lots of questions, even though it is obvious he does know how to do it. If she is right there he will do it, but as soon as she walks away, he stops. This is the same at home with homework. She also said when he first started school this year, he was much more excited and willing to work. She even said she had a child in another class who "spaced out" and was having little seizures. I really do not think it is that.
The other imprtant thing is that a couple months ago my son accepted Christ and was baptized. I know that I went through some real spiritual warfare and was under some major attack for awhile when I was baptized. So that could be part of this as well. My main concern is that my son's self esteem does not suffer because of this. Any advice or suggestions would be much appreciated. We have tried punishing him, taking away tv, etc. It isn't doing anything.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hi All, I wanted to say thank you so much for all your responses. I realize now that my son is intelligent and just being a 5 yr old boy. I know he does not have some "problem". Thanks to everyones advice I am considering homeschooling him. Thanks to God as well, because he has been answering my prayers for discernment in what to do and how to raise my son. You have all been part of that answered prayer! Thanks again, and if anyone has any homeschooling advice, please let me know.

Featured Answers

I have a couple of questions for you...
Where does he go to school?

How is the teacher making things captivation?

Depending on the answers to those questions would help me with some insight....I have 3 boys and 1 girl....my boys do not sit still all! They learn more by movement and through story telling. Knowing that he is only 5.... it is priceless that he is daydreaming!! I wish I could do that !!!!!

My kids all go to a Montessori school in Phx called Villa Montessori. The classrooms do not have desks. The kids do have to move while doing work. That is part of the learning.

Along with what style of learning does he have? visual? auditory? or kinnetic?(sp?) when you find this out and the teacher taps into his gifts, he will do well. But remember he is young and sitting still and having to learn how to write could be boring to a 5 year old boy!

Just some things to think about and by no means am I an expert, but I do know that boys do not like to sit still and focus on fine motor skills until their bodies have had some movement! also look up Brain Gym....Google it and there are some exercizes that you and the teacher can do to promote focus! The work needs to be FUN and not just BUSY work to keep their attention!

Take care,

My daughter is the same way, we though it was ADHD or something, she has been through therapy/"mental health" specialists/medication/etc. Nothing ever worked... Punishing isnt the answer either, you have to try to make school fun at home.... interact with the school work, do things at home that pertain to school- counting/ print out sheets offline that involve adding, spelling, etc. reward him when he does good with school. Just be patient.

My daughter's teacher told us she is a "bright and intelligent child" she is just distracted. And now she tells us that she needs summer school, not because she's failing just because she thinks it would help her next year when she starts 1st grade.

Hope it helps a little!

He is awfully young and it doesn't seem like a behavior problem to me. I've homeschooled my children but had them in school for 1 year. My daughter was in Kindergarten at the time and the teacher always said the same thing. She said she was spacey and uninterested and thought it was possible that she was learning disabled. I dismissed it because she was so young. I've homeschooled her since and although she struggled some academically (compared to her older brother), she has done perfectly fine. She has "out grown" some of that. Not all kids can just sit and listen for long periods of time at that age. It doesn't always mean there is a problem. It may mean that he is a kid and is bored to death and ready to play... :) That is fantastic that he accepted Christ! My first gut reaction is that he is fine and is bored or uninterested. That will change as he grows up. Blessings!

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Your post made me smile - because, um... he's five. Five. I have a five-year-old boy who. is. VERY. five. Y'know? Don't let the school system scare you into thinking there's anything wrong with him. He's five, and would rather be hanging out with my son hunting for snakes, searching for gecko eggs, and catching bugs in the bug sucker, and then - perhaps - squashing them.
Set boundaries for him? Sure - homework time or the like. But don't get sucked in to the 'he has behavioral issues' game. It is an ugly and potentially destructive game to play at his age. He's five. Sending you a hug!

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like he is being a little boy and having to overcome some habits. With time and patience and providing some extra methods of structure, I think he will level out in time. The timer idea that the other mom suggested is a good idea. Maybe the teacher can help incorporate that. Since he isn't really disruptive I don't think it's add or adhd. Also, I'm beyond elated to hear of his salvation. Awesome!

ps..if you don't mind my asking...what kind of warfare going on? Just private message me if you want to talk.

Hi K.,
I'm an occupational therapist who works in the school system with pre-K through 6th grade.

I think you are on the right track, really. You are trying to teach him the discipline it takes to do work, even if he doesn't "want" to do it. That's a "skill" that will be valuable to him when he's older.

He's just in Kinder, though, so I think you can see he doesn't have to master this skill tomorrow.

My only recommendation is to make sure his homework gets done in a set amount of time (some Moms use timers). No reward for getting it done, just an expectation. The fact that the teacher is already doing this at school will re-inforce that parents and teachers are on the same team.

I would also recommend giving him "work time" over the summer a few days a week, too. Nothing heavy-duty, but something to keep him in the rhythm for next year, so he knows expectations will be the same.

This is all very hard, bacause things like "homework" were unheard of for such young children when I was growing up: the kids are the same, but their expectations are much higher.

Yeah, a very few number of kids suffer from, "absence" seizures; a few more suffer from "attention deficit," but a majority just lack the skills. Your kid's teacher sounds great, just in that she is so, "on the ball" about the issue now, so he can be successful later.

Stick with it, you're doing great!

Well, I wouldn't punish him. I'd homeschool him. Or, at least I'd supplement what's happening in school with reinforcement at home. Make it fun. Some children at that age don't respond well to society's idea of socialization and conditioning -- they want to be free to explore and learn in creative ways, and many public schools don't allow for much individualization. Take up the slack at home, and keep learning fun.

I agree it could be spiritual warfare, but some of it is age-appropriate wanting attention and needing stimulation. You might want to pray with your son and help him to understand, in little boy terms, that the Enemy wants him to fail at school -- but he's a son of the King, which makes him a prince, and princes always try their best. Stuff like that.


Hello, My five year old was the same way, I had him tested by the school to learn that he has a reading disability and adhd, you can look on line for more info on this or try phx childrens hospital or the melmed center for evals to make sure we are not dealing with a learning disorder. By the way my son is now 10 and a great student getting A's and B's in school with extra help in reading. Good luck
P. s

Have you ever considered home schooling him? It is wonderful!!

I understand. I have two boys an my oldest never really had much interest in school. Everyone is different. Please stop punishing him. Find something he is doing well and reward that. Isn't that the example that Jesus set for us? Except for the time at the temple, Jesus never never "punished" anyone. He only chose to praise and love and appreciate everyone, including prostitutes and lepers. Utilize what you know to be true from your Christian teachings and look upon your son with wonder and praise for everything he does good. He is a gift to be appreciated. He is in your care. Perhaps, he would be better homeschooled for a while. My son needed that one on one attention in order to keep him on track too and he just didn't get much out of school. I had to take the bull by the horns. I even hired a mothers helper to make dinner and watch over my younger child so I could better focus on helping him. I am a single mother and it was very difficult to work with my child while the little one caused a raucous and dinner needed to be made. You know what I'm talking about! I made sacrifices in order to afford her. I gave up cable, the internet, drove an old car that I didn't have to make payments on, shopped Goodwill for clothing. My sacrifices paid off. He is doing so well now that he is in 7th grade. As a stay at home Mom, you may be able to make arrangements to set aside a good 3 hours a day, if you really think home schooling is the way to go, and you could accomplish so much more with your child in that 3 hours of one on one attention, than 7 hours at a public school can accomplish. Public schools, with their large classes, work best for children who have a tendency to conform and not all children are able to do that. His inability to focus now, is actually a sign that he has great potential for great success! He needs to be engaged and encouraged to ask questions and express himself. If you research some influential great people throughout history, you will find that they too, were much like our sons! Plus there are so many extracurricular activities out there for homeschooled children to get socialization. The internet is full of teaching tools as well.

Another, probably more realistic way to deal with this situation, is to just tell your sons teacher to allow him to do what he wants as long as he's at his desk and is NOT causing a disturbance. Then, make arrangements to go to the school everyday at recess time(s) and have him do the work with you. It sounds like he's the kind of kid who probably loves recess, so my guess is, in less than a week, he'll start thinking it's time to do the work during class time! (This sort of think works wonders with my "problem" child!)Treat recess as though it were a reward to enjoy after he completes his assignment. Do not tell him he is losing recess as a form of punishment. Simply taking recess away and still not doing the work doesn't accomplish anything. Isn't that what real life is about? Get your priorities done, and then comes play? Plus, he may enjoy the one on one attention at school with Mom for a while. It'll make him feel loved and cared for in the long run. There doesnt have to be any yelling or made to feel bad or guilty. use quiet consistent, insistence. Just simply say to your son, "Your schoolwork is very important. And if you don't get it done during classtime, I will help you with it at recess time. If you finish your work before the end of recess, you may go. If it takes all of recess, then you may have play time after school at home." Repeat this over 10 times if you have to, no matter what he says. If you are concerned about his need for physical activity, then play follow the leader or some physical game to get the blood flowing for 5 minutes before you begin the catch up session. I've done tons of research on this subject. There is a balance between true learning and discipline. The goal here, seems to be to get him to want to follow along with what is expected of him at school. If he is constantly being punished for his nature, at his current school, it may be wise to consider another school or the homeschooling. I'm not an expert, but I'm a serious, experienced Mom and I mean business. And I truly understand. You and your son will be in my prayers.

Not to get your hopes up but he sounds gifted to me. He already knows the information and is getting bored with the repetition. Try asking the teacher to give him something more challenging to do and see if that helps. Retaining "oodles" of information on a specific subject is a sign of a gifted kiddo. Just a suggestion. I don't know if they can be tested to find out for certain at 5 or not but he sounds bored to me.

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