25 answers

Not Focusing in School

My daughter has had notes sent home at least once a week since she started kindergarten. She is the youngest in her class (5). Most notes are how she is a brilliant child, but cannot focus on the task at hand. She is a VERY independent and active child. Alot of this is her teacher, who has suggested my daughter be check for ADD. (We did, they said she was fine...just your normal 5 year old active child). She can read, and do math fine. My question is does anyone have any ideas for helping a child learn to focus?! Thanks!

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Thank you all for the advice! Her teacher is in her 60's, and this is her very first year of teaching! She is bored at school. She is already reading while the rest of her class is still practicing writing letters. Thank you all for your advice!

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She's only in kindergarten and you are receiving these messages. She is most likely bored and probably going to become more disruptive and off task as she gets older. There are simply too many students in her class for her teacher to take the time to create work more challenging work for her. I would suggest looking into
Great Lakes Academy, a private school in Plano that focuses on challenging students with ADD or bright students that exceed the expectations of the state for their grade level. The atmosphere is comfortable and conducive to the needs of the students not the state. You can visit GLA's website at www.greatlakesacademy.com.

Sounds like she's bored. You might want to put her in a Montessori system so she can learn reading and math at her own pace and keep her little mind busy. It's hard to focus on learning something she already knows. By the way, throughout her school years, you might consider Montessori because it allows her to move in with the older kids for some classes, but still remain with children her own age for social development. Skipping grades in grade school is NOT the way to go. It creates horrible problems in the teen years with social skills.

D. Kimbriel
Grandma to 2 beautiful boys

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This sounds like my son who is also in kindergarten this year. He is great at everything academic, but just can't sit still and his teacher also suggested that he be tested for add/adhd. Instead, this is what we have done with pretty good results:

Fish oil supplements for kids - the Omega 3s and 6s are supposed to improve concentration. Per my boy, "I don't FEEL my body as much" and a lot less wiggling. He seems capable of actually making the CHOICE to sit still whereas before, it was like he couldn't control it.

Removed all Red 40 from his diet. Per studies, Red Dye # 40 leads to lack of concentration and lower IQ scores. When ever my son has it, it get's completely out of control.

Zyrtec - this time of year especially, his air borne allergies make him spacey and less likely to pay attention to anything going on in class. Zyrtec has really helped his behavior.

Essential oils - small dabs on the bottom of his feet and the insides of his wrist before going to school. Lavender to help him stay calm, lemon and rosemary to improve concentration and focus.

Positive reinforcement - in the class, children who go all month without getting in trouble get a small prize, but this seems to be too long for our child. We provide a special activity (like getting a snow cone with dad) each weekend that he stays out of trouble all week and this seems to be helping to provide motivation for making good choices.

Good luck with everything!

1 mom found this helpful

Honestly, I feel that there are very few kindergarten teachers who are not imaginative and who hasn't been educated about different learning styles. If your daughter is bored, she still needs to know how to focus on the task at hand. And teachers who are any good can see the difference between "bored" and "cannot focus." They are not the same thing. One lands you on medication and the other in the gifted/talend program.

When she is at home, how does she spend her time? Is she flitting around or watching tv/computer games? Can she sit through a story, a board game, a card game? Does she wander off leaving her artwork unfinished? Does she make her bed, do simple chores around the house through to completion?

I wholeheartedly believe that except in very severe cases, focusing and concentration can be taught. So here is what I would do:
1. Turn off the tv. Completely.
2. Turn off the computer games. Completely.
3. Play simple board games every evening...stuff like candy land, war with cards, chutes and ladders...and quitting is not allowed. Make it very fun and include siblings and other parents.
4. Start having story time. Get books with chapters and start reading to your child. Simple stuff like Magic Treehouse...then at the beginning of every chapter have her tell you what has happened so far...then have her tell you what she *thinks* is going to happen next... then read the book. While you are reading, she has to snuggle up to you and sit still. When she can accomplish that, then have her color/draw while you read. After you finish the chapter, review the chapter with her. (What happened? What did you think/feel about...?)
5. Start her on some chores. Do not tell her what to do... do it with her. Start making her bed with her. Every morning. Have a song you sing while making the bed. She will get better and better and then she has to do it herself after a week or two of you (cheerfully and having fun) doing it together. Then start another chore...like setting the table. If she doesn't do this, draw out on manila paper all the elements (life size) of each setting and lay them in the places. Then she has to put each thing on top of the drawing. She will have to concentrate and after a while won't need the drawing. Chores (that are made FUN!) are a very important part of learning to concentrate.

DO THESE THINGS DAILY OR VERY CONSISTENTLY. Taking away the tv/computer games is relieving her of the things that stimulate the brain in a way that lends support to lack of concentration.(Let her have 30 minutes on weekend days, but keep it to a tiny amount.) Slow her life down with the reading/talking/board & card games. Teach her to focus on the task at hand by doing it with her. Put in a garden together and care for it together, with her focusing on what she is doing the entire time. The key here is that you are training, so you must be a part of it. You can't do it for her; you can't send her off to do it herself. You need to do it WITH her.

It is so easy to blame the teacher. But the facts are this: whether your child is super bright or delayed, she has to learn to focus and do the task at hand.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

If your child is very young for K and you have taught her the K curriculum at home before she even started school then she probably is a bit bored and is too immature to know how to handle it. I would look into some ways to teach your daughter about how to focus on her work and give her plenty of opportunites to be active, so the classroom setting will be easier for her to handle. Maybe you could enroll her in a gym class where she has to listen and focus on the teacher, but gets to be active to get some of her energy out. Don't worry too much. All kids have some issues growing up and we just have to understand that and teach them how to deal with it. I'm sure the classroom teacher will work with you if you ask for her help and input and come to her with some of your own ideas. Good luck!

Sounds like she's bored. You might want to put her in a Montessori system so she can learn reading and math at her own pace and keep her little mind busy. It's hard to focus on learning something she already knows. By the way, throughout her school years, you might consider Montessori because it allows her to move in with the older kids for some classes, but still remain with children her own age for social development. Skipping grades in grade school is NOT the way to go. It creates horrible problems in the teen years with social skills.

D. Kimbriel
Grandma to 2 beautiful boys

It is probably more of a maturity thing than anything else. If it were me I would have her repeat Kindergarten to make the rest of her school years easier on her. I know that isn't what you want to do, but it beats giving her meds. Good luck!

She sounds a lot like my daughter. She is also a younger kindergartener (July birthday). She is very smart but some of her work lacks focus due to her wanting to move on to the next activity. In my daughter's class they have "free centers" the last bit of the day. Her teacher has started keeping her out of free centers to finish/redo any work that she was not focused on during class. This has really helped. I have also asked that the work be sent home if it does not get done in class. Once she realized that outdoor/cartoon time would be taken up by redoing schoolwork when she chose not to finish it at school, she has done a lot better.

Sometimes bright children get bored very easily. My son, also the youngest Kindergartner in his class, rates high in everything on his report card except for talking in class and following rules. He doesn't focus well when he's bored. Also because of his emotional maturity wasn't keeping pace with his intellect, my son often had strong emotional outbursts. This would often give people the wrong impression about his capabilities.

What has worked for us is the herbs from Native Remedies. Specifically, Focus + Brightspark. Go to http://www.nativeremedies.com/?ysmchn=GGL&ysmcpn=Goog...

I also agree with complimenting the child as acting like a big kid, and being an example for others. My son thrived on that sort of praise.

I also had some talks with my son's teacher about increasing his reading level at school to challenge him more. If you have a gifted program at school, consider having your child tested. If she qualifies it can provide some additional stimulation she might need to help stay focused in school.

Good luck!

Let me guess... summer B-day?
My son was also the youngest in is K class (school started 2 weeks after he turned 5). All through K we never had a problem (although his K was only half a day). 1st grade, again no real behavioral problems although he was a bit behind in reading. 2nd grade, was as you stated for your K; notes home AT LEAST 1X/wk. We struggled through 2nd b/c we felt it was more of a personality conflict w/ his teacher (She also requested he be tested for ADD/ADHD). 3rd grade, no real prolems a few notes every now and then. Because we were moving during the summer of his 3rd & 4th grade year to TX from AZ, we decided the 'behavior issues' he had during the 2nd grade and the fact that he was the youngest in the class (immaturity), we held him back then. Looking back now, I realize this for the mistake it was. Behavior issues were still there only now we had to deal with the 'It's YOUR fault' behavior. It had progressivly gotten worse. We now homeschool so it isn't a real issue bc he's working at his knowledge level not a grade level (ranging between 9th & 12th grade depending on the subject).

While I'm not telling you to pull your child out of public school and homechool her, you MIGHT want to look into that option. It sounds to me that your child is BORED!

I would have a conference with her teacher and see if there is something your daughter can be doing if she finishes her work before everyone else. Brainteasers, coloring pages, reading silently, helping the teacher staple pages, put info into the Cubbies, etc. Something that can both occupy her mind and body (if necessary).

If it is more of an issue of getting her to complete her work; set up a reward system. My youngest son had this issue when he was in PS. I spoke w/ his teachers, and we decided he would get a small pompom for each worksheet he completed in a timely manner. He would put this into a small spice jar in he desk (I provided both the pompoms to the teachers and the spice jar to my son). His teacher could easily place a pompom on his desk w/o disrupting the other students. He would then put the pompom in the jar. When the jar was full, he would bring it home and show me. Then we'd go out for ice cream as a reward. I'd then empty the pompoms into a ziploc bag that he'd give back to his teachers and we'd start over.
Mansfield, TX

Oh I was a daydreamer too. Maybe the teacher is boring. Maybe the subjects are not interesting. Maybe she needs another year? Maybe she's not challenged.

You will know where your daughter is by testing her at home. Can she read to level 2-3? Does she know her letters and can she write words (very simple). Does she know her numbers?
Some kids absorb more than you realize. If she is okay here then maybe the change next year will be better (new teacher new subjects).

A little about me: art and music class was always my favorite. Later it was English and I wanted to write every day. (I'm on my third book).
It may be a good time to have her start a journal - very simple. Couple of words about her day. Then next year a couple sentences and so on.

We all want our children to be top of the class but some kids have their own pace. Stick by her, on her side all the time, and encourage her to concentrate. If possible, take her places on the weekend and figure out what interests her. i.e. airplanes, Egypt, animals, etc. then use those subjects to ignite her learning.

Good luch, C.

She's only in kindergarten and you are receiving these messages. She is most likely bored and probably going to become more disruptive and off task as she gets older. There are simply too many students in her class for her teacher to take the time to create work more challenging work for her. I would suggest looking into
Great Lakes Academy, a private school in Plano that focuses on challenging students with ADD or bright students that exceed the expectations of the state for their grade level. The atmosphere is comfortable and conducive to the needs of the students not the state. You can visit GLA's website at www.greatlakesacademy.com.

My answer, my opinion...
Homeschool! Seriously, you can tailor all her work and learning to fit her needs. For example, if she's the most attentive from 2-4 after a nap, but super hyper in the mornings, you can do playtime in the morning or go to a museum or park, and then school from 2-4. The problem with classroom education is that the teacher has to teach to the lowest level of child in the class and the more intelligent often don't get all they could learn. And then you have all the breaks, recess, down time, other kids talking, distractions of noise and everything else that take your child's attention away from learning. You could probably do two 1/2 hour sessions of learning with your child each day and you'd be ahead of what the other kids are learning in kindergarten. And although this idea might sound totally bogus and out-there... consider it. It's A LOT easier than you might think, even to get started! Email me anytime!

E., while this is a bit funny and may not work for you, it has worked in our family. My grandson, while not the youngest in his class, is now 6 and in kindergarten. He has had some tough times as he too is very active. Up until January, he was constantly in trouble for talking, not paying attention, etc. One day he was in the office, not for being trouble, but to assist with the pledge on the P.A. system. The principle came up to him and told him how impressed she was of him lately. She proceeded to tell him how he was really starting to act like a big boy, in fact, he was acting just like a first grader. E., believe it or not, he DID start acting like a big boy. Don't get me wrong, he's still a very active 6 yr. old, but gets in trouble very little for talking or staying focused. I know it's simple, but may be worth a try. Have someone in authority at school who she recognizes try this with her and see if it helps. Good luck.

It may just be her age. I had 2 children the youngest in their class. The focusing part wasn't an issue but we had others. I chose to hold both kids back in kinder. I watched them both bloom the next year and be one of the best kids in the class. Consider it being a maturity thing not an ADD thing.

My son is also 5yrs and was having trouble focusing in school, especially during group activities. We had him evaluated and he is not ADHD/ADD. The psychologist suggested we take him to a therapuetic Optomotrist (there are only 3 in the dallas area). He was prescribed special glasses to help with visual/perception issues. His vision is 20/20 but the glasses help his periferal vision. His teacher says the glasses make all the difference and that he is a different child in the classroom. I believe they help because he likes to wear them. The Optomotrist we went to was Dr. Shidlofsky in Plano (Parker and the tollway). Hope this helps.

What helped my kids in school was being able to read. They would check out books from the library and always had a book on hand to help them with the boredom. Even in kindergarten!

This took a lot of trips to the library on my part, to help them find appropriate reading-at-their-level material. But it was worth it.

I have a friend that put their child on B-Complex from Shaklee. Their son is ADD/ADHD and they did not want to put him on medication because of the side effects. So they tried B-Complex and they have found that if they have him on B-Complex he is able to go to school, focus and do great in all subjects; he is a straight A student because he can focus on the assignments. If he runs out even for 1 day; it is notes and the principals office. So if you are interested you can visit the website below and to take a look at the product to view children's nutrition and there is a product guide online to look up the B-complex. The great thing is if you purchase a product and try it; if you do not like it or if it does not do what you thought; you can ship it back for a full refund.


I do PACE with my son, but I don't think it would be worth the fee to hire a trainer for a 5 year old (I was one).

Puzzles, Games, throw a ball back and forth to the beat of a metronome, then spell out words to the same throwing. Act out stories as you read them, Completely obliterate TV watching in your house - it exacerbates ADD. Personally, I think flourescent bulbs do too - but you have to argue with your checkbook versus what may or may not be an improvement in your child on that one.


Truly consider holding her back a year. Give her the gift of time and still pursue tutoring etc.. Think about it, the gift of timewill help so that way she won't always be the youngest if she was born anywhere between April and Sept. first almost no one will flinch. The world has so much more peer presure and problems and our poor children are being asked to mature too quickly in all areas. We held back an Aug. boy who is in talented and gifted and make mostly 100% and I don't have to harp on him to get his homework done so we have a great relationship. We are going to hold back a Feb. secondgrade child next year due to difficulty reading and writing even though this child has a high IQ and let the skills catch up with the mind.
Good luck, mom of three 11, 8, 2

I work at a pediatric therapy clinic and we deal with this all the time! My son is actually very active himself!
If her level of activity is a problem, occupational therapy can help with focus and sensory issues. My son gets OT.
But for a quick fix (This is hard since I dont know what it is your daughter is doing to be "active"..) you can put 2 tennis balls on her chair at school. Cut a hole in the tennis balls and put one on the front right leg and one on the back left leg. This will give her a little movement in her chair, but she'll still be in her chair and it helps with focus. There are other chair cushions you can buy, but they cost more than 2 tennis balls! :)
Also, sticking Velcro under her desk...so she can feel it, an help with fidgety hands.
If she needs breaks, the teacher could send her to deliver a ream of paper to another class. Holding something heavy is calming- and this can be done w/o anyone else knowing she's doing something out of the ordinary.
If her teacher will allow it, chewing gum helps kids focus, too.
All of us do things to regulate out arousal level...we chew our pen or tap our pen, cross and uncross our legs, tap our foot, etc. Kids cant get away with this stuff that adults need to do, so we have to give them little fixes that they can get away with and not bother the other kids in the class.
Hope it helps!

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You probably should not have put her in Kindergarten that early. If she is the youngest in her class, you probably should have waited another year. She will learn to focus as she gets older. The teacher is obviously new or not a good teacher if she doesn't know that already. Your child surely does not have ADD, she is just young. They do naturally learn to focus as they age, the problem is that if she is young for her grade, you will always get these kinds of notes throughout her schooling years if she is always young for her grade. In 3rd grade, the notes will say, she talks too much. In 5th grade, the notes will say she does not use her time wisely. You would do your child a great favor for the rest of her schooling years and keep her out of a lot of unneccessary trouble if you will keep her in Kindergarten another year. Do it now while she is still young and is not attached to a group of friends too much. She will thank you later on in life! Do it for your child. I know it is the right thing to do, because I was this child. I was always the youngest in my grade. I got the same notes sent home, I was always in trouble, but it was only because I was the youngest in my grade and I was just always a little too young to meet the attention span expectations for the grade I was in. I wish my parents had held me in Kindergarten an extra year. I speak from experience. She will do much better if she is a little older.

This girl sounds like a normal bright child who is probably bored and, my guess is, has an unimaginative teacher. Holding her back wouldn't necessarily help and may in fact hinder her more. I think the only things that are going to help her are time (she's only 5 for heaven's sake! these things take time to develop) and a new teacher or school maybe. Hang in there and good luck!

My sister was a 3rd grade teacher for 35 years, and one of the things she told me about was that some kids have different learning styles. In her class, the kids were allowed to stand, sit, whatever to get their work done as long as they didn't bother other kids. Maybe she just needs to do something different while she's learning? Good luck!

Hi E.,

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Being youngest in the class could also have a lot to do with her challenges...maybe she's just not ready for Kindergarten and could benefit from repeating it. My friend did this by homeschooling her kindergartner for one year, then sending him back again at first grade. She felt that was easier on his ego than repeating the year at public school.

If you do decide to send her on to 1st grade right away, talk to the Principal so she can match her with the teacher best suited to work with an active child. Sometimes Kinder teachers have been doing it so long, they don't have the patience they once did!

Good luck!

"Our pediatrician misses us. So does the pharmacist."
Visit my Mamasource profile to find out why!

Many Dr's are quick to label ADD/ADHD and prescribe meds. There are many proven alternatives that can help improve focus and behavior in children. Diet can play a huge role. Do some research on the Feingold diet/Gluten free diet.

In case you haven't heard of adaptogens, they are a category of herbs that help the human body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic processes, and restore balance. They increase the body's resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors and promote normal physiologic function. A lot has been discussed recently about adaptogens, even Dr. Oz on Oprah.

I highly recommend an incredible book titled Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief by Winston and Maimes. To watch a video on the history of adaptogens go to VitalHealth.TunguskaMist.com to learn more.

Many parents have had wonderful results using the Tunguska Mist Adaptogen Sprays to help restore balance in their children and improve their focus and behavior. Teachers often comment that the student's grades go from C's/D's to A's/B's.

My husband and I have been taking adaptogens for a long time, and we're passionate about helping people reduce the damaging effects of stress and restore balance NATURALLY! Good luck and God Bless:)

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