Daughter's Behavior in School Is Effecting Her Learning

Updated on November 28, 2012
J.C. asks from Bronxville, NY
13 answers

So my very bright first grader is not paying attention in school. She doesn't like to listen to the teacher and will sometimes do her own thing rather than do what the teacher is asking her to do. For example, the teacher handed out a worksheet and rather than follow the directions, she just colored at will. I had my parent / teacher conference but the teacher did most of the talking while I did a lot of listening (which is fine - I'm an absorber, then I react).

I'm not sure how to handle this behavior since I am not there with her all day. How do I get my daughter to stop talking, pay attention in school and do her work?


More info - She does not have any medical issues - she doesn't have ADHD or anything like that. She is just not a good listener. She likes to be silly and get a laugh. So when she is disruptive in class, she tends to bring the class down with her (she makes a joke, the kids laugh and the lesson is side tracked).

This has been an issue since preschool. Her Kindergarten teacher had a hard time handling the entire class. It took my daughter some time to settle down. But eventually she did.

I did relay this to the teacher. I'm just not sure what I can do at home to make her act better during the day. Honestly, it makes me feel so bad - like I am the worst mom in the world. My daughter is so smart. I feel like I am doing a horrible job.

My husband and I are not very strict at all. I think that we have to start makeing some rules that MUST be followed. She does do well with rules and consequences. I also think that some chores are in order.

Example, it's really hard to get her to motivate in the AM which results in my husband yelling a lot. I think I will start up a morning routine/reward system. Better now then never. See how that goes.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Sacramento on

I agree that it would be helpful to have more information. If there's a medical reason for her lack of focus, such as ADHD, she can get special accommodations at school through an IEP or 504 plan.

If you're noticing the inattentiveness at home, too, it's probably worth talking to her doctor for input.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Columbia on

I honestly need more information. How was she in class up until now? Is this a problem that existed before?

I'm curious to know if this is a problem with your daughter and her inattention, or if it's a problem with her teacher's ability to help her to pay attention through redirection and instruction.

Can you tell us more?

ETA: How do you know she doesn't have "ADHD or anything like that?" Have you had her formally evaluated?

Yes, it's time to buckle down and be more consistent with rules and expectations. But that doesn't require yelling. Check out the book "Love and Logic."

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You guys need routine and rules, is what it sounds like. You said you aren't strict, maybe she is used to doing what she wants and now that she has to follow rules she doesn't want to?

You also said she's smart. Is she bored with her work? My 5 year old gets in trouble for talking, but when I talked to his teacher she said he is calling out the answers if he isn't picked on. He wants to answer and be engaged and he isn't being given the opportunity, because he can't always be the one to answer.

Work WITH the teacher to have the same structure at home as she has in school (as much as possible). Make a schedule for your daughter to read, play, watch TV, etc...whatever you guys do.

I would definitely start at home by telling her there are consequences for bad behavior at school. If my 5 year old comes home with a warning from his teacher, he loses the Wii for the night. He loves to play Madden 12 and it makes him sad. I hate to do it, but it works.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Does the teacher have some sort of reward system in the classroom for all students? In the K at our school each students starts the day with 4 blocks (on a board or in a jar, I'm not sure) when they break a rule or have to be reminded of something more than once they lose a block. 2 blocks lost is just a warning, 3 is a phone call to Mom or Dad and 4 is a visit to the Principles office. A system like this can be backed up at home by checking with the child (and possibly teacher at first) each afternoon. "How many blocks did you have at the end of class today?" "4" "Great job honey, I am so proud of you...." A full week with 3 or more blocks could result in a special treat. If your school doesn't have a system like this, perhaps you could come up with something at home. One way or the other you have to get across to her what is expected from her.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

If she does well with rules and consequences then she would do well with a simple behavior chart that the teacher draws up and gives her every day, that she takes home to you every afternoon. No happy faces= no TV or no video game or no dessert. A whole week of happy faces = a special treat. My guess is that she does not do well with rules and consequences or she would be behaving in class, but you need to try it.
Also if she is so bright, the work should be easy for her to finish but what is the procedure for what she can do if she finishes her work correctly by following directions and getting it done early? Ask the teacher what is daughter's motivation to finish her work quickly, can she do an activity she enjoys for a few minutes-drawing, reading anything she wants, writing a note, a crossword puzzle or word search?
Bright kids (without ADD or ADHD) often find ways to challenge themselves at school, writing notes to teachers and friends, reading books when worksheets are done. Did the teacher feel any of the problems were related to the work being too easy?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I would schedule another meeting with the teacher and ask for the principal to sit in with the social worker and whomever else they have sit in on meetings that aren't parent-teacher conferences. Let them know that you're concerned about the behaviors, and you want to be a support system for the school/teacher and your daughter's education so you would like to have the meeting to set up a Behavior Plan.

A Behavior Plan DOES NOT require a diagnosis or formal meeting such as a Planning and Placement Team Meeting. It doesn't require an Individual Education Plan or 504 Plan. She doesn't, as you explained, have any diagnoses.... it's just a matter of trying to establish better behaviors for her which will benefit her during the school day AND other times in her life during group activities.

A Behavior Plan will help the teacher to know what to do when specific behaviors crop up with your daughter, and the teacher will have specific responses and reactions to fall back on. If those don't initially work, there should be Plan B responses for the teacher as well. During the meeting, everyone there including you gives input and brainstorming ideas on how to best deal with specific behaviors and how to encourage her with positive reinforcement and positive language, and when best to use certain types of discipline. You'll discuss motivational tools for her as well.

So remember. Request a meeting to establish a Behavior Plan. Ask that other supporting staff members be present for that meeting, and the teacher will know who to bring in.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My SD would get into trouble in school. She is her own person and she would read vs listen to science. She would goof off, act up, get out of her seat, talk at the wrong times...when she was in 4th grade, she hated her teacher but we sat down with her and explained that she needed to finish the year with this teacher and the only person she was really hurting was herself with her bad behavior. When we got a note home from Mrs. K, SD lost a privilege, like having a friend over. The positive side is that she did learn to channel herself (thank God for theatre!) and graduated with a good GPA and has gone to college.

I would work with her at home on her listening skills and following directions. I would tell her that school is a very important job and she needs to listen to the teacher. I would give her tasks that require a timeframe and praise her when she does it within them. 'If you do x in 10 minutes or less, you will have time to play before we have to go." So complete task = reward. Teach her also time and place. Time to be funny - on the playground. Time to listen - in class, in church, in a store, in the library....work with her on how to behave appropriately so she's not acting up in class.

Frankly, I am working on my own DD because she will even get distracted walking to the bathroom. Or she'll be on the toilet telling stories to her feet. Right now she's doing OK in preschool, but I worry about K.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Does your daughter... act like this, at home too?
Or only at school????
If it is only at school, then it is something that she can turn off or on.
But if she generally overall, has problems with paying attention or following direction or not listening, then perhaps she has some issue, and you should talk to the Pediatrician. Because, a "Teacher" does not have diagnostic medical training nor the role of assessing the children.

It could just be a maturity issue. Or something your daughter cannot control.
How about last year, when your daughter was in Kindergarten??? Was she like this too??? Or is it only a problem this year, in 1st grade???

Then, many young kids, are not robots. They are not still as statues or quiet as cotton. They are kids. And the role of a Teacher is to direct the children... to whatever is at hand and direct them.
So, did the teacher actually SAY this is a "problem." Or did she just mention it as an observation about your daughter???
IF the Teacher, said it was a PROBLEM... then, what is the Teacher suggesting??? E-mail her or call her, and ask her. This is called... following-up, to the meeting you had with the Teacher.
Follow up... with the Teacher.
It is normal to do so.

My son, has some classmates that are errant. Like your daughter. Every class has that. His Teacher... controls her class and mediates them and directs them. She, is the Teacher. And, there is one kid, that is seeing the school Counselor, to learn "skills" for directing his impulses better etc. and to learn, RULES.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Well I certainly hope the teacher has some good ideas.
After all it's her JOB to encourage and teach your daughter how to focus and follow directions, especially at that age.
When I worked in first grade we did this by constantly reminding, redirecting and sometimes placing certain children up front, where they would be less distracted.
There were also consequences for not listening or following directions, such as losing a few minutes of recess to finish incomplete work.
These strategies usually worked very well.
You can talk to your daughter and remind her to listen and focus at school but ultimately it's up to the teacher to control the behavior in her classroom.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

How old is she?
Is she on the young side?
This could be a maturity issue that she will out grow.
My son did well in school.
I had to remind him often 'Listen to the teacher. Never mind what anyone else is doing. Keep your ears open and your mouth shut unless the teacher calls on you (and raise your hand).".
I didn't start with taekwondo till he was in 2nd grade because he was just not ready to listen to and follow instructions.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

A couple of thoughts are going through my head at the moment. You mentioned she's "very bright." That just may be your answer. I know the first thought is usually ADD/ADHD, but she might be gifted instead. Gifted kids get bored with mundane stuff they feel they already know and some will do their own thing or be distracting to others in the classroom. A lot of times they don't really understand why the teacher is teaching things they already know. They also don't understand that their peers may not have the same knowledge they do. The best thing you can do for your daughter is to have her tested for GIEP (being gifted/advanced) first before you even have her tested for ADD/ADHD. I remember my son was occationally talkative in school also during the teacher's lectures. I had to explain to him the importance of being quiet while the teacher talked, so other kids could learn stuff since they don't already know. Gifted children can actually understand more than the average child, so you can explain the importance of education and being quiet. You can also explain that not following directions makes them look like they don't understand and might be held back. If not, you can use possitive reinforcement to encourage being quiet when needed to.

So what happened with my son...He already had started school early. (He missed the cut-off, but was tested and put into kindergarten any way.) Later, I had the "talk" about being quiet and respectful and why. Then came 5th grade and the complaints about still being bored. We had him tested for GIEP and they wanted to skip him over 6th and 7th grade, but the high school principal wouldn't allow it. So a compromise was reached and he was skipped over 6th grade. He's now a sophmore in high school, very popular, and on the high honor roll. Letting him skip a grade was the best decision we ever made.



answers from Binghamton on

Out of curiosity, have you had her tested for AD(H)D? Girls often present very differently and it can be hard to catch, especially so early. If you have not seen a competent health professional about it, I urge you to do so.



answers from San Francisco on

I'm thinking that this is a combination of being bored at school and not having had solid discipline where she was taught to follow directions and do as she is told the first time she's told. You admit that you and hubby are not strict. To me that translates to you're a bit lax. It's easier to be lax when you only have one child.

Unfortunately, this is what happens when we are too "nice" to our children and lax in our discipline.

I suggest you step up your expectations of her and her behavior and have her tested to see if she's gifted.

Btw, my GD had a problem trying to be "in charge" of the classroom when she was in 1st grade. The teacher would get so angry because she would tell the class to do one thing; GD would tell them to do another and they chose to do what GD told them to do! All I could do was smirk! Get control of your classroom, lady!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions