1St Grade Struggles

Updated on October 22, 2013
L.S. asks from Omaha, NE
13 answers

Hello, Moms! I need a bit of advice if you don't mind... My daughter is in 1st grade, and we had parent/teacher conferences today. She's doing very well academically - understands everything, not struggling in really any subject. She's great with her friends and a well-behaved student. The only issue that is she has trouble paying attention and staying on task. She's not disruptive, and I don't believe this is a medication situation. I do very much believe she's the product of two parents who's minds tend to drift both now and once upon a time as children. Either way, I was hoping to get some advice about how to help her learn to stay focused. She is sometimes moved to an isolated desk to finish her work, and when she is moved she finishes the work very quickly. Clearly she's an independent worker; however, that's not how school is set up usually. She's reminded several times a day to stay on task. I notice at home too she piddles around during dinner, when asked to get dressed, when brushing her teeth... it's truly her nature. But I need to help this issue a little bit so she doesn't start falling behind in school. Not a concern yet, but I'm trying to be proactive just in case it becomes one. The teacher suggested that she set a timer for worksheets, and I've entertained the same idea for at home. Any other advice for me - teachers or moms who've had similar situations? She holds conversations without distraction, she's not disruptive to the class. She just tends to care more about what's going on around her than what's in front her :)

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answers from New York on

Since she's not disruptive I'd say to let the school handle it just as they've been doing. 1st grade is a big change because they are expected to do and sit more and play less. Some kids are able to transition more easily than others. She just probably needs a little more time to settle into the routine.

If you want to work with her on finishing tasks in a timely manner then try setting time limits for activities with rewards when done.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Houston on

I see nothing wrong. Honestly, that's every 6/7 yr old I've ever met. If the teacher assures you that she is where she needs to be academically, then you're a step ahead of the game.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Maturity is a common problem. You know the old, it's a phase. My daughter has improved a little more each year. She is now in second grade. When she sits down to do her homework, I always ask her to sit with both feet on the floor and both hands on top of the desk. The TV is turned off and the only thing on her desk is the work she is doing. The Kumon program she is in has also helped, as they teach her to tear apart her pages, put them in order and start from the top and work down.

I suggest you work on making things routine as best possible.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have a suggestion. Wait 6 months. It's just her age and personality.
Go with the timer for sheets but otherwise, try not to worry.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I'd ask the teacher, then follow her lead. She needs to figure this out. She has to find what works in her own classroom. At home you just do what works for you. Don't do what the teacher does, then it becomes mom's plan and the teacher loses her authority.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

My daughter has inattentive ADHD. She was diagnosed in 1st grade. She was or is never disruptive, was very quiet in class, just could never focus on her work for any length of time. It seems like your daughter is not struggling as badly as my daughter, so I don't know if it could be ADHD or just her age/personality. I would try a timer (my daughter would get distracted by the noise of it, though) , stickers and rewards, and the isolated work area. If those work and she isn't falling behind, great! If they don't or her focusing issues get worse, I'd suggest a trip to the doctor. Girls usually have the inattentive type of ADHD and they are often seen as flighty, lazy, etc because they don't present a discipline problem. If the problem does escalate and it turns out she is diagnosed as having an issue, that's where a 504 plan is helpful. It is a legally binding document - it can say she HAS to have an isolated work area,whether that's how the class is set up or not.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My son has Adhd, thus causing frequent "drifting" and "oh! look at that!" in class, at home ... everywhere. Timers help, it instills a sense of urgency. Rewards - like stickers are another good motivator in the classroom setting. It is difficult to instill a sense of urgency in a person with out potentially causing panic - but a timer is typically the best way to do so.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My dd also has this problem...lots of messing around after being told 2-3 times to do things. It's gotten better with age. She's an outstanding student...but she has a short attention span and too much energy. One thing that helped is to have her in a demanding sport where she could channel her energy. She is a level 8 gymnast now....it's really forced her to focus her energy and when she does it's amazing what she can do. She's 10 now and much more focused.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I think your daughter's teacher has handled it perfectly! With the timer and/or moving your daughter to an isolated desk, she is able to complete her work. In time, she probably won't need those helpful measures any more.

I think you should implement the same thing at home. That's about as proactive as you need to be right now. She's still in first grade, and she's doing well academically. She probably just needs more time to mature and get acclimated to school structure.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

She will figure things out all on her own. I would not do or say a thing.

FYI... My daughter was like this until 9th grade then everything just clicked.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

Well, there could be several things going on here. One being her age. Is she a young 1st grader? Sometimes maturity will help with the being focused part. That ends up being a more wait it out type of situation. My son has always been the youngest in his class, and struggles with the same thing. It's getting better now that he's in 2nd grade and has a little more maturity on him. But we will still struggle with it.
The second part being that if she is doing well academically and picks things up quickly, she may be gifted. Routine standard testing for that won't happen for some time, but problems with lack of focus are one of the classic signs. You may be able to get her tested early, and then talk with the counselor or teacher about ways to keep her on track.
Hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

It sounds like ADD-inattentive type. It's not hyper, it isn't disruptive. It is often overlooked because of how non-invasive it is. It is most common in girls but not unheard of in boys. My son is Inattentive, which is why your post resonates with me.

It sounds like what can be done as far as classroom accommodations are being done already. If her grades start to drop later on, you might want to pursue medical intervention. My son did really well until halfway through 1st grade, then his inability to drown out normal classroom sounds became overwhelming. She may be just fine for always and never need more.

The constant reminders at home will be a part of your life for years to come. Establish and stick to predictable routines. Can she read? Use a dry erase calendar tailored to things she needs to know are upcoming and relevant to her day.



answers from Lincoln on

My daughter is the same way. According to her teachers and dr, etc. This behavior is very typical at this age. Children at this age are very social and typically more interesting in what's going on around them. It's part of learning. They are also just beginning to develop an understanding of how long a certain period of time actually is. In Kindergarten, my daughter's teacher started using a timer with my daughter and my daughter knew that if she wasn't done by the time the timer rang she would miss out on recess or some other fun activity until her work was finished. It was a visual timer that she could look at and really see the time clicking away. This worked very well for her and she realized that she was missing out on other fun activities. Now that she's in 1st grade she rarely doesn't get her work done due to distractions and she's learned how to manage her time better. She still gets distracted but it doesn't interfer. We used the timer at home too and that worked wonders. According to her dr and teachers, this is definately NOT a ADHD or similar issue. Her behavior is normal. Just keep working with the teachers to find out what works best to tweek her behavior so she's getting work done but also continues to be interested in what's going on around her. That's a side of her that is good. It means she cares about others and is learning in multiple ways. For example, social skills, "book" skills, as well as learning about her school and natural environment around her. Makes her a well rounded child. Don't fret. Hopefully her teacher has suggestions that will work. Not every suggestion works for every child. Just have to find what works for your child. Good luck.

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