Having a Hard Time Trying to Teach My 4 Year Old!!!!

Updated on December 11, 2008
E.B. asks from North Las Vegas, NV
58 answers

Hello wonderful moms! I need your help. My 4 year old is having a hard time focusing. Since I'm a SAHM and we don't really have the funds to send him to a preschool, I try to teach him myself a long with my 21 month old son. He is very smart BUT its like he dont apply hisself. My husband told him he wants a SMART kid not the COOL kid. My son then says to his father, "Well I want to be cool, not smart!" We can sit down and try to do his workbooks and worksheets and he wants to play, or he starts talking about something that has nothing to do with what we're doing. Sometime you can as him a letter sound and he will freeze up or act like like he is going to cry. Not only that he wil take 30 to 45 minutes trying to tell us what the letter is. I know he knows his letters sounds, because I taught him. One minute he will tell you all of his letter sounds then the next he won't know them. I do reward him with stickers, art projects and field trips and different other things to let him know that he has done a good job. He wants to go to school because our oldest is in school, I explain to him that he cant go to school if he don't try to do his work. We do story time and hes everywhere except for listening to the story. He talking and playing with his hands or his feet or something thats keeping his attention from listening to the story. When he watches TV he still running aroung playing with the football or something else, until I force him to stop playing put the toys up and just watch his cartoons. At first I thought it was me just not having patience with him, but my husband has tried as well and he's just as concerned as I am. Infact he wants us to take him to the doctor to get checked out for ADD or ADHD! I try to give him the benefit of the doubt and just say he's a kid and just wants to play, but he does have to learn that there is a time and a place for things too. I don't want to make that our conclusion and just start making him take medication so he can focus, but it is starting to take a toll on us. So if anyone can help and give us some advice PLEASE HELP!!!!

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So What Happened?

WOW! I am so blessed to have have received so many great responses from all of you wonderful moms! I'm going to try out all of them. I have tried explaining that to my husband that he just a kid and thats all thats on his mind is playing, and that when he is ready we will know.....I have laid off of the workbooks and the worksheets, and I have notice that he enjoys when I make learning fun for him. He likes the art projects and starting to enjoy cooking ( of course he eats all the cake batter and cookie dough.) One thing that I did forget about HE KNOWS HIS ABC'S, 1-30, COLORS SHAPES OUR ADDRESS AND HIS BIRTHDAY! He knows his full name, writes better than my nephew who is in the 2nd grade and everything else will fall in place when he starts school. I also learned that its just us wanting him to be where our 5 year old was when she was his age. They are two different kids. I will update all of you moms about who he is doing down road. I THANK ALL OF YOU AND WANT YOU ALL TO BE BLESSED. Earnestine

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A.W.

answers from San Diego on

Relax, enjoy and stop pushing so hard! Like lots of other moms said out here, you are expecting way too much from someone that isn't capable at this point of doing what you are asking!

They grow up so fast, just love him, play with him and let him grow at his own pace. I've seen kids in my daughter's classes who got put into school way too fast and they are now struggling with everything they do.

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M.C.

answers from Honolulu on

Do you really need to push him so hard already?? You know they teach him academics in kindergarten. My daughter went to preschool and the emphasis was on social interactions, following rules, learning through play and they did lots of messy and fun projects that were interactive and focused on using their senses to observe and create. They incorporated the ABC's into the activities, but they did not stress academics and ABC/123 was more of an osmosis - thing. My daughter is now in first grade and she is reading just fine.

I suggest that instead of "working" on his lessons, you get him involved in activities with his peers. There are lots of free and low-cost activities available. If you live on Maui I can let you know where they are. Talk to other moms and see what is available near you. Best of luck to you. There will be time when he gets into school to "get him tested" and get him help if he truly needs it, but for now, just let him be a little kid.

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A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Take him outside. Have him write with chalk. Kick a soccer ball with him. Fly a kite. say the alphabet while you push him on the swing. Workbooks don't teach 4 year olds, play teaches them. I never pushed that stuff on my son and eventually he started asking how to write his name. Then he started kindergarten and he loves it. At 5 he was ready.

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M.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

If he wants to go to school check out what First 5 has to offer. There are preschools that your child can attend at discounted rates if you do not qualify for free! He could be bored with his letter sounds and therefore doesnt care to sound them out anymore because he and with the pressure he undoubtedly feels it may make him feel like he cant be successful or please you. Try moving on to small words cat dog boat and so on try helping him write out his letters advance him if he already knows something and has known it move on! He could also just need to be around other kids so joining a moms group that has playdates and get togethers could be helpful as well.
As for cool kid versus smart kid... YOU CAN BE BOTH! There's nothing uncool about getting A's and there's ALOT wrong with allowing your kid to perform under par in order to be cool and "fit in" Which would you prefer your kid getting college scholarships for good grades or being voted most popular?! Plenty of athletes and cool kids perform in school and in class teaching your child that being smart is a bad thing is an incredibly bad idea.
Remember 4 year olds are busy bodies. There's so much for boys to do and get into and they dont think like girls do. However if you're worried about him being ADD or ADHD then get him tested. Studies have shown the earlier its treated the earlier its detected the better they respond to treatment and the better their odds of living normally. Best of luck to you and your beautiful family!
*M.*

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K.R.

answers from San Diego on

Hi. How about Cool AND Smart?!

I'm a kindergarten teacher (9 years) and a mother of 2 children (9 and 1). Personally I feel that your son should be running around and full of energy at this point. I would rather he play with his football or whatever than watch cartoons quietly. If the tv was on and he loses interest I would quietly turn it off. It is not uncommon for him to have a short attention span and not want to sit still for long. Worksheets and flashcards will most likely be like pulling teeth...only raising your anxiety and his. It sounds as if he is under a lot of pressure and stress (evidence by his rebelliousness when you ask him his letter sounds and also his tearfullness.) Little kids learn by doing hands on activities. So anything that you want to teach him has to come in a entertaining format and in short doses. For instance, leap frog has a lot of learning type games that are colorful and interactive. JumpStart has neat computer games for preschoolers. You could adapt movement games into games that require him to say a letter or make a sound. Books should also be short and colorful and you need to "ham it up" as you read...using different voices and enlisting his help with finding things on the page or asking him what might happen next.
Again though, you can only expect a few minutes of real attention from some young children AND you cannot get stressed out and angry with him when he loses his focus. I know that it hard because you feel like he NEEDS to know this now. Don't worry, he'll get it. They just don't always get it on OUR timelines, you know?! Your goal (and any good teachers' goal) is to make him want to learn and if it's not an enjoyable experience then he will become turned off to the entire prospect. We DON'T want that!! :-) We want him to be eager and energetic and curious. Even if it turns out that he does have some Attention Defecits...threatening him into doing better won't likely change his behavior long term. Structure and patience and gentle redirection will.

In my classroom, our activities start out at about 7 minutes and then slowly grow to 20 minutes of undivided attention to one task or activity. Kindergarten END OF THE YEAR standards are knowing letter sounds and letter names- so it's okay if he only knows some when he starts. I've had students that came in with nothing. If you think about it, letters and sounds of letters are very abstract and a child has to be developmentally ready to take them on and understand what their purpose is. Just like development is going to play a big part in whether or not his fine motor skills are ready enough for him to write legibly. It's not always a 'lack of effort' problem...just not ready. K teachers also would love by the END of the year if they are able to sound out words when reading, sound out and write short words and put together simple sentences with some words known as sight words or high frequency words (and, is, my, like etc.) Your kindergarten teacher will let you know what he should be working on when he gets there. Right now, you can work on PHONEMIC AWARENESS which is simply rhyming and word play. Look up some activities online. Also, keep reading to him...it is THE most important thing. Talk and explore the world.
My older daughter has recently been diagnosed ADD/inattentive. She is not on medication. I've had several students with ADD/ADHD and other disorders. Sometimes medication is a Godsend but not always. There is a lot of information online about that too but I would not jump to conclusions too soon. If you do the research you will find that the behaviors need to have been present for several months in at least 2 different settings (ie. school, sunday school, home etc.) My feeling is that if he wants to go to school a few hours a day then it couldn't hurt. The teachers will notice quickly if your child is unlike others in the class and then you can go from there. They may be able to offer you some strategies to help him. I have found that many times boys who start kindergarten young with the big demands that we have on them require more time and sometimes a second year of K but they are not ADHD. Give it some time and try not to worry. Have fun with your little guy! :-)
I also recommend 123 Magic (I got it at the library). It was a great discipline method that I am using with my kids. I hope that I've been some help to you. Take care.

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

In my State, via the Department of Human Services, they have a program, that pays for Preschool for those that meet the income guidelines. It's called "Preschool Open Doors." Here is the link:
http://www.patchhawaii.org/families/payingForCare.asp
http://www.ecs.org/dbsearches/search_info/PreK_ProgramPro...

Perhaps, research the tuition programs they may have in your State as well. It's worth the time.

For us, this is the way the my daughter was able to attend Preschool. Otherwise, we could not afford it. The subsidy program paid for it all. It was such a blessing.. .and my girl really needed it... she was "ready" for a school atmosphere by this time. She even was telling us she wants to go to school... and we were able to send her when she made 4 years old. It was invaluable for her and us.

All the best,
Susan

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L.D.

answers from Las Vegas on

I understand that you want the best for your son and you want him to be bright but maybe the way you are going about this is not the best one for you or for him. Here's what I would suggest for you:

#1 Make learning a part of your everyday experiences. Learning can happen anywhere and everywhere. Workbooks and flashcards should only be a small part of how he learns. Nickelodeon and Sesame Street magazine both have a lot of fun ideas of activities you can do when you are at home. Also check out the education section on www.ivillage.com for age appropriate hands-on activities to help your child learn math, science, letter recognition, etc.

#2 Keep in mind that he's only 4 years old. If you want him to sit down and do homework, limit the time that he spends on it to no more than 15 minutes per day and set up a special place for him to do his homework. Provide him with fun pencils (Crayola has these stinky pencils that my son loves), stickers and everything he needs to do his homework.

#3 Show a huge amount of enthusiasm when your son gives you a correct response or completes a workbook page. You can't be too over the top with your enthusiasm in the very beginning. You want to make learning fun for him and your excitement, some tickles and hooting and hollering are probably what's needed right now to take the "work" out of homework.

Please keep in mind that if you want your child to go the full distance of K - 12th grade and beyond, you have to help him create the internal desire to learn and do his best. You can try forcing this upon him but, as you can see, it really doesn't work that well. Guiding him and showing him that learning is fun and how good it feels when he does a good job and his parents are proud of him will take him a lot further in life.

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S.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Congratulations, you are the mom of a normal, active, and probably pretty smart little boy.
When my son was this age there is no way I could have gotten him to focus on anything, his mind as always running and his body too.
Try teaching him without "teaching him." There are some awesome videos from leap frog that will teach him the alphabet and the sounds and the second one (wait until he's about 5) teaches them how to combine them into words. This is how my son learned how to read and spell. He also loved Thomas the Train so I bought him a Thomas alphabet book.
Outdoors is a great way to learn too. We spent hours wandering around looking at ants and dirt and weeds and everything else, if I didn't know an answer I looked it up and we talked about it the next day on our walk. We looked for letters on license plates as we walked and repeated their sounds, I pointed out simple words for him to start reading. We counted red cars or lines in the sidewalk, or eggs in the box. There really is so much he can learn by experience at this age.
At 4 my son knew all about Women's sufferage and the fight for the vote because he loved the movie Mary Poppins and there is a song about it, so we talked about it. Teach him how the vacuum works, why we wash clothes and how a dryer or clothes line gets our clothes dry. Have him help sort clothes to learn his colors. These are the things that will put him ahead.
It is more important that he learn to learn than learning anything specific.
Good luck.

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T.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

He is 4 years old. He doesn't need this pressure cooker intensity right now. Not only does he need it, he is not developmentally ready for it. Why are you pushing this so hard? There are all types of preschools and I have not seen one that is doing what you are (forcing a child to sit down and "work" on worksheets or workbooks.) If I did, I'd run in the opposite direction. Most are play-developmental based because most early childhood experts know what children need after years of observation and research.

There is a study that shows that children who were pushed academically early on were no better (and did worse) later on. It's called the Marcon Study.
http://www.ooeygooey.com/mary/resources/articles/how_do_y...

I know there is a push from certain large and small companies that tell parents kids can and should learn more, but those companies are really just trying to make money. There have been new books published in the last 1-10 years that argue children need to EXPLORE their world in the early years, not sit in front of Baby Einstein, Not Flashcards and Not Computers.

EINSTEIN NEVER USED FLASHCARDS: How Our Children Really Learn-- And
Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less (Hardcover)
by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
http://www.amazon.com/Einstein-Never-Used-Flash-Cards/dp/...

The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier,
Healthier
Children by David Elkind

What he should be doing is PLAY, PLAY, PLAY.... that is how they will learn and that is the building blocks of knowledge.

Please go to the ooeygooey.com website and click on Lisa Murphy's Resource page. Scroll down to WORKSHOP Handouts. Click on "The Importance of Early Experiences"
http://www.ooeygooey.com/mary/resources/ess_workshop_hand...

Your approach will only turn him off to "learning" since it is so stressful. When people (children or adults) are stressed (afraid, you are using fear to "reward" him when you tell him, "if you don't do this, you won't get that) the BRAIN SHUTS DOWN. There is no learning happening.

Watching TV every day isn't the best for brain development. Read ENDANGERED MINDS by Jane Healy. She argues it * contributes * to attention problems (so if you care about that, turn it off.) In our house TV is not a daily thing. That is my compromise.

As far as him being ADHD, I'd argue no, he is just normal. He is normal for wanting to play and not wanting to be drilled on stuff.

There are better ways to do it (teach) - through fun stories, books, songs - and boring ways (worksheets, workbooks.) That is how preschools do it.

DISCOVER YOUR CHILD's LEARNING STYLE is also another book that will help you understand your child's learning style.
http://www.learningsuccessinstitute.com/
I did the profile online for myself and my 8.5 year old. My 4 year old is a bit too young for it, but by reading the book, I definitely recognize her learning modalities and that will help me, help support her later on.

My children went (go) to a play based preschool and my son went to their hands-on, developmental Kindergarten. There were very few worksheets and LOTS of hands-on experimenting (play-dough, shaving cream, building blocks, playing, exploring.) It was an INCREDIBLE year. I felt sorry for my friends children's who were in the regular Public K with boring worksheets most of the time. Learning can be so much more fun and deeper than that. Please learn more about Learning Styles and that will help you go in the right direction.

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N.V.

answers from Las Vegas on

I didn't read through the other responses, but just wanted to mention a few things.
It's not a matter of being smart OR cool. Children should understand it's important to be friendly and social, as well as a good thinker and hard worker. You can explain this to him in kind, loving ways.
Find things that interest HIM, especially if you want to do it in the form of worksheets and other sit-down work, even if that means writing about transformers, reading about big trucks or counting Halloween candy. As long as he's getting the exposure to numbers and letters and it peaks his interest, it's going to help him learn.
Reading time is so important. Keep on reading with him and his siblings, even several times a day if you can. But let him choose the books to read. Take him to the library and let him get anything he wants, so he gets the excitement of doing it because HE wants to not because a parent is making him.
I'm trying to figure out why you'd want him to watch cartoons instead of play. Playing is a HUGE form of learning, especially free uninterrupted play where his imagination is turning, exploring, and creating. In fact, I'd say free play and exposure to reading are two of the most important things for a young child.
Most of all, take a deep breath and relax. The calmer you are about this, the more comfortable he'll be, realizing he's not being critiqued on every move he makes (or doesn't make). Getting him to have the DESIRE to learn is more important than making him learn, if that makes sense?
Good luck,
N.

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C.L.

answers from Las Vegas on

Hi Earnestine,
It appears you've gotten a lot of good responses so I'll keep this short. My son, turned 3 in Aug, has fun and plays while he learns. So for example, while he's watching TV, say the Backyardagains, he learns what color each of the characters are... while he's playing with his toy trains, he's counting the different cars on the train, when he watches Sesame St. he's learning numbers and letters. When we go to the library he mimicks what the other kids do when they sit in front of the librarian and listen to the story... when we drive around town, he's looking out for different shapes or colors. Learning can be done anywhere! Here's a great link to show you what your child should know at which stages... http://www.worldbook.com/wb/Students?curriculum/preschool and another great article on the important things for school readiness, it's not what most people think of... http://www.redshift.com/~bonajo/early.htm

Hope this helps,
C.~

www.HelpUstayHome.com

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J.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Dear Earnestine, Everything you said in you letter would have been of concern if you were talking about a 7 or 8 year old! We are talking about a 4 year old. It is a fact that children of this age learn best through their play! Don't worry, when it's time, he will surprise you with how much he has already learned from just watching you and listening to you in everyday situations. Simply talk to him about things as you are going about your day, Let's see how many red cars we can count, Let's find things that start with "B" (or the BUH sound), etc. If you really want him to do writing, have things out for him that he can do on his own: those Write and Wipe books are great where they trace their numbers/letters then write them on their own. You can do picture cards, mathing games, etc. But I wouldn't spend so much time "Sitting down with him working on workbooks, etc" it is just not age appropriate. Try to find a mom's group or just a few neighbors that get together with their kids once a week to learn social skills. That's what he REALLY needs before kindergarten!! Best of luck to you and your family!. J

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T.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Earnestine,
Sometimes the best intentions...
Your son sounds like a normal 4 year old boy. I have a 6 year old daughter who was just the same way until about 3 months ago, when she started Kindergarten. I decided early on that my child would have a lifetime to be a student, but only a few precious years to be a child. Your son doesn't sound abnormal, he sounds curious, playful, energetic and fun! As a trained teacher AND the older sister (by 12 years) of a child with severe ADHD, I can tell you that at this age, any diagnosis wouldn't be valid. Please don't turn to the quick fix of meds or doctors so soon. Give your son the freedom to be a little boy and when he is ready to learn, he will. I never pushed things on my daughter, she did them when she was ready. I won't say I didn't worry, like any other parent. I just chose not to buy into our cultural need to raise "super" pre-schoolers. Each child's brain develops differently and we do them no favors by expecting them to fit our mold. PLEASE, embrace his uniqueness and relax. Follow his curiosity! You may want to do some research on montessori or waldorf style learning. I think you'll find them enlightening.

Good Luck!!
T.

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D.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

There are so many 'Mommy' feeling swimming around my head after I read your post...but, as someone who has been in the education field for more than 10 years, I will tell you that kids are not 'ready' for structured daily work plan until at least 7 years old. That's why first grade introduces workbooks, flashcard systems and reader programs. I have worked with kids k-2 in informal education and formal education, and from my perspective toddlers need a less structured atmosphere that is more about discovery and less about sitting down and completing tasks.

I would recommend going to several pre-schools in your area and asking to view their curriculim. From there you can get ideas of how to structure your son's day, and your 21 month old may benefit from this too. In kindergarten, we created a routine that is centered around understanding your environment, and working creatively, as well as introducing the concept of teamwork and helping. The main focus at least for me as a teacher has always been the core basics, shapes, colors, number and letters. From there kids work at their own pace, and this helps me as a teacher to see what kinds of learners I have in my room. From there, I work with kids on the core lessons of what the state guidelines require and I group kids in groups of various learning types so they can 'help' each other throughout our time together. But, even in kindergarten I avoid worksheets and tasks that may be frustrated or confusing to the kids...quick and concise is the key to creating a fun and energetic environment that allows kids to feel accomplished and excited. I also, fought to have a garden in my play area, so at the beginning of the year we plant stuff and watch it's progress...kids love feeling like they are a part of 'making' something. I even have a garden in our backyard that my son, Grandpa and I tend to almost daily.

Things like a gold fish can teach responsibility, while having fun and learning about fish life. Then we take a visit to the Long Beach Aquarum. Umm, let's see...there is so much I have to share...learning can be fun and exciting for kids, you've just got to build it around things that don't appear to be learning. We have a rewards program, but it's for completing regular tasks like putting things away, feeding the gold fish, helping with snack...at the end of the week, those who have a full row points towards prizes. The prizes are always stuff like books, $5 GC to Borders, extra time on the computer, free play or something that is encouraging learning.

It is really important to work with kids at their own pace, and not try to create a learner but, encourage them via their learning abilities. I am a visual and audio learner, but I hate sitting and doing worksheets and completing unguided activities. I hate the labels of ADD and ADHD, my son's Dad was labeled that way and on more meds during his childhood than necessary to 'control' his behavior and he missed out on so much...even today he labels himself as the 'not smart' one. It's terrible.

My son is now 2, and I work during the day...he's with Dad in the morning and their focus is structured play outside and they go visit the park, botanical gardens, zoo and other local places where 'hands-on' learning can happen. Then he goes home and has lunch and nap with Grandma, and when they wake up she does activites with him like blocks, shapes, letter and numbers...Lakeshore has great toddler age stuff for pre-learners. He loves to read books and color, but his day doesn't revolve around 'learning' and what he needs to 'learn' but, exposing him to things that will encourage learning and development.

You have your hands full, but you can do it. I would sit down with your hubby and create a game plan for how to work with your son, and avoid comments that will discourage him from wanting to be a part of a learning environment. My son has a space where he can do his thing, we got him a little desk that he picked out at Ikea, an easel where we do painting, a table and chairs that are his size and we try out best to do everything on his level. If you create a 'learning' space that is special for him, this might help him create a sense of ownership over the 'learning'.

I really wish you and yours the best of luck!!

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K.L.

answers from Honolulu on

Relax, he's 4!! He isn't ready to sit and do workbooks and "School". At this age he should be learning through play--blocks, sand table, water play, puzzles. Children at this age learn by manipulating objects and experiencing concrete activities. They are not ready to sit and do workbook pages. Please, let him be a child or you will turn him off to school completely. Find teaching moments while he is playing--like let's count all the red blocks and see if we can make a tall tower with them, or let's draw an "A" in the sandbox, each time you throw the ball say a letter of the alphabet. I highly doubt he is ADD, just a normal, energetic boy!

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C.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

Try using a timer (egg timer with the sand). Don't spend 45 minutes on anything. Try teaching in an active way. He doesnt' have to do worksheets to show he knows the material. You can practice letter/sounds with pudding or finger paint. You can have him act out the letters with his body.

You are right not to jump to conclusions, but don't deny the possibility. You could for now consider that he might have ADHD and research about techniques used (other than medications). A good Dr. won't give an ADHD diagnosis until the child is old enough for Kindergarten. Learning disabilities are not diagnosed until age 7.

One thing that might help you distinguish from a 4 yr old boy and one w/ ADHD is his sleeping habits. It he can't fall asleep at night, it might be a sign. Also ADHD is genetic -- if a child has it, then one of the parent's does too.

I suspected my daughter was ADHD around age 3, but then is is hard to know what is ADHD and what is being 3. At age 6 I had her diagnosed and she was very ADHD. I started her on Focalin for ADHD because she couldn't pay attention long enough to read 1 word. Within 1 month on it she is so proud of herself for reading "big kid" books (like Clifford) cover to cover and not just phonics readers with few words per page. It has made a huge difference. First grade is the critical year. Kids who don't learn to read well in first grade rarely catch up later and it hurts them forever.

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C.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am going to keep this short in the hope that you will read it and believe it. At age 4 kids should play. They should not be doing worksheets or trying to learn letter sounds. My kids went to a TOTALLY developmental preschool--they learned through play. THEY NEVER DID A SINGLE WORKSHEET. As first graders now they are both well ahead of the academic curve. He does need to learn to sit still and listen for kindergarden (though there are lots and lots of kindergardeners who can't and who don't have add). You might find a mommy and me preschool where he can see how that is done. Go to library story times. There are state funded preschools as well at many of the public schools. Check and see if you meet the criteria. But honestly, tell your husband to calm down. Your son is too young for you to be giving him a negative experience of school. Even kindergarden next year should be lots of fun with school work too.

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M.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

He is a boy, he is 4, he IS acting as he should!! Please let him be. He'll learn so much more through real world experiences and by playing. Yes, playing!! My kids are living proof. My son is 3.5. I've NEVER done flashcards, worksheets, etc.. and he knows all his letters, the sounds they make, how to write his name, I could go on. I believe some of it is my hubby's genes (LOL) but also I'll give myself some credit, we talk and play a lot! My kids always grocery shop with me and help - counting the fruit, picking out the colorful veggies, etc.. They help me in the kitchen, we role play, dress up, play with blocks, paint. Run around outside - a lot! All the things that help the brain grow. My daughter just turned 6, is in kindergarten and is one of the few that reads and writes really well. I didn't sit down and "teach" her any of that. We read, color, draw, write - for fun! She learned while having fun - playing. Kids learn through play and there is so much evidence to support that. If your son was in preschool right now, he'd be getting more out of it from a social aspect than academic right now. Make sure he has friends to play with, take him to the park - every day! This will benefit him a ton. My son doesn't really like TV either. If he isn't getting anything out of a program I turn it off and we do something else. If your son is running around rather than watching the program you put on then turn it off or find something that will engage him. Word World and Super Why are fantastic learning shows.

Tell your husband that comments like, "I want a smart kid not a cool kid" will get him nowhere! How about just letting him be a kid!! The smarts will come.

It is obvious that you both want the best for your son, but don't make it so hard on yourselves- enjoy him, let him have fun (the school work/homework will come soon, I promise!).

Best wishes,
M.

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J.D.

answers from Reno on

He sounds like a typical four year old to me! There's a reason that children don't start school until the age of five. They aren't ready to sit still and learn! Preschool is basically to get children ready for school by introducing a group environment and getting them used to listening to someone other than their parents, period. Children learn through playing. My advice; throw out the workbooks and let him play! Talk to him a lot and use "teaching moments" whenever you can. Just relax, when he gets to school, his teachers will teach him everything he needs to know! :)

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S.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Earnestine,
Wow, you have your hands full! I went through something similar with my older son, who is now 5. My younger son is 3 and I noticed the changes when I was about ready to deliver my second. He did get expelled from daycare and at-home provider, so I kept him with my neighbor for two years (I work full-time) and he behaved the same with her. The similarities though are that he does learn and like to learn just liek your boy, but at this stage of his development, he just really wants to play! That is the best advice I can give you. I took my son to therapists and neurologists and Occupational therapists and they pretty much concluded he has what's called SPD Sensory Processing Disorder - it may appear like ADHD, but it's not. He just has a different physical type of need and needs understanding of his unique personality. Check out the book Sensational Kids it has a comparative checklist between SPD and ADHD and the chapter about Ben the sensory-seeking pe-schooler. What works for me, is just to let him play and get that energy out. He likes to dig, so often when I prepare dinner, he digs with a real spade in a dirt patch just outside my kitchen window. I chase him on his scooter (good little jog for me, too) and talk constantly. I often felt my little one was getting the short end of the stick, so I have what we call "Special time" whereby my 5 year-old will go watch a nice short video "on his own" makes him feel like a big boy, while I play with my younger son for about 1/2 hour. Then we switch. That little bit of special time goes a long way. I have enrolled him in pre-school, 2 days per week and kept him back from starting kindergarten. The preschool has really helped him develop social skills like waiting his turn, sharing, etc. In the end, it seems like he will outgrow this and just needs time to be a boy! Also, fish oil supplements to calm his limbic system - Coromega has little gel packs that we call Shrek candy.

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D.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Work sheets and books are the bane of education for some children. They just don’t learn that way and it turns them off to learning. Finding active games that get your son moving are often the best way for little boys to learn. Play games with him and make it fun. Running around finding letters, having races to put them in the right order, playing with letter blocks or numbers are a few things to try. The more active he is doing it the better. In a good preschool they teach children with as many methods as possible because children don’t all learn the same way. There are many intangibles that children get from going to preschool too that you would have a very hard time duplicating at home. You just can’t underestimate the influence on your child of watching 11 other kids doing tasks that are required of them. An example of that would be when my 3 year old daughter went in to preschool she wasn’t very good with the potty training. Having a regular schedule and lining up with the other kids instantly trained her, it’s like it just snapped into place for her. She came home after the first day and had potty training nailed. I had spent two months with her and hadn’t gotten half that far. You may want to reconsider preschool as a better option for your son than medication would be. Have you looked to see if you could qualify financially for programs like jump start? If your son does not go to preschool, when he goes to kindergarten he will probably be less likely from the start to sit and learn like the other kids who have. This makes him more likely to be labeled ADHD. Once that’s done he’ll probably be medicated indefinitely. I don’t blame you for not wanting that. I wish you and your son the best.

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J.F.

answers from San Diego on

I am a teacher and a Mommy so I, too, tried to teach my daughter. I found that she doesn't respond to me like she does to her pre-school teachers. When I thought about this I realized how many times parents say to me that they can't get their child to do their homework, or they can't get their child to read at home, and they seem so surprised that I don't have this problem at school at all. I always hear, "Are you talking about my child?!" when I tell some parents how well behaved their child is.

You have to remember that your son is only 4 years old! He wants to run and play. That is normal. He does has a desire to learn (all kids do) because he tells you he wants to go to school. I think that you should do some research about pre-schools. My daughter attends a pre-school through the city. It costs about $140 a month for three days a week (2.5 hours a day). At first my daughter was very wiggly and didn't want to sit and focus at school. But after some time she got the hang of what it means to be at school. She has made so much progress in her attention. To me I believe that she needed to learn from someone else and have the social interactions that the classroom provided her. Never underestimate peer pressure. Yeah, sure that can lead kids to do bad things... but most of the time it leads kids in a positive direction. If $140 is too much you may qualify for the Headstart Program or First Five program which is FREE!

I applaud you for working so hard with your son! You are doing an amazing job.

PS try taking your son to www.starfall.com This was a great website that helped my daughter learn her ABCs and sounds!

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T.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

if you are in torrance and your income qualifies you can get free preschool. they have a class at most elementary schools. if you are interested in more info please e-mail me. T.

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P.R.

answers from Santa Barbara on

I commend you for wanting to work with your son as much as you can and teach him on your own in lieu of preschool, but I think you are expecting too much of him. He's four years old, and the maturity and energy levels vary greatly at this point! My daughter will be four this month. She's in preschool for the first time, and I can tell you a couple of things. 1. They don't use worksheets. They don't force the kids to focus on a particular activity. If they don't want to participate, that's fine, as long as they are following the rules (i.e. not wandering off, going on to the next activity with the rest of the class, no arguing, etc.) This is a fairly highly regarded preschool and I trust their methods. 2. They spend most of the day playing! Playing is how kids this age learn the most. They also move from one activity to the next fairly quickly, since kids this age also don't have very long attention spans. What I think my daughter is getting out of preschool the most right now is learning how to follow along with the group, follow rules aside from ours, and respect other adults. She is NOT learning how to write, and though she knows all her letters and can count up to 40 or more, that's just because of the casual work (mostly playing and reading and singing) I've done with her since birth, not because of any structured learning time.

You should be enjoying this time with your son. Let him play, and get down on the floor and play with him. He is not going to be behind when he starts school. He will also learn better right if you let him set the pace a little bit. When he shows interest and asks questions, go with it. Otherwise, don't force it. He'll only resist you and not have a good open attitude toward learning in general. If you want to expose him to group settings so he can start interacting with other kids his age, look into your local Parks and Recreation dept, adult ed, or a community college/university extension. These often have inexpensive classes that you can do together or you can drop him off. You can also take him to museums and things like that for fun. That exposure would be good for him. Other than that, don't worry so much. Kids adapt really quickly and I'm sure your son will be fine when he starts school. You don't want to burn him out now, though, or he won't want to go when the time comes.

Feel free to write me a note for more ideas! My daughter is super active too so I know what you're dealing with, I think. We weren't able to start her in preschool until this year so I had to find ways to keep her busy myself prior to now. I'm more than happy to share. Good luck!

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C.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi.

I know you already have lots of advice, but I too wanted to comment. I also think maybe you are pushing him too hard too fast.

Focus on the basics - colors, his name, days of the week, counting and letter recognition. But at this age, make it fun. Maybe have a green day where you wear only green and eat green foods etc. Or work on a letter per day. When it is "A" day go around the house and find things that start with A, and count those things. Go to story time at the library.

My grandma used to walk with my kids when they were little and taught them all kinds of science things - about how trees grown, and that bird babies are eggs first, the life cycle of the butterfly.

Preschool kids are very active, especially boys. They have short little attention spans and need short activities. When he is in a quiet mood try to work on his name. Read to him and ask him to guess what is going to happen in the story. Let him be four.

If you or your husband think there is truly a problem call your closest elementary school. They will give him a free evaluation and provide services if needed. But, FYI my husband thought both my kids were dyslexic (I'm not sure of the correct spelling and am too lazy to check right now) because they wrote some of their letters backwards and not the left to right on the page. I had to reassure him that they were just learning and that takes time.

Let your boy enjoy being little and enjoy his world. The rest will come as it may. Take your time and enjoy him!

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L.H.

answers from Las Vegas on

Four year olds do have alot of energy. I have seven children,four are grown and living on their own now.
I homeschooled my children and found that when I could
not get the attention of the younger ones, I had to devise
a plan that made them feel like they were in control. I decided to reverse rolls. I told my six year old that she was going to be the teacher today and I was going to be the
student. She was going to have the responsibility of teaching me my letter sounds and how to count. This was a success. She enjoyed correcting me when I was wrong. lol We shared this role exchange for awhile and she did not even know I was teaching her and she was learning. When it come to cool, spiderman is cool, but is very smart as well. look into the superheros and compare how smart they are and how cool they have become, as he gets older, then compare the cool and smart to real people like louis pasture, who created the vacine for rabies. lives were saved due to this. Then Franklin flew a kite which is cool and fun, but because he was smart, this brought about electricty, which led to other power sources that now power cool remote control toys. I would still have him checked for ADD and ADHD though, better safe than sorry. There are other ways to control this other than drugs. I hope this helped

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G.M.

answers from Las Vegas on

It's like you said, "he's just a kid." Adults sometimes forget that when kids are playing, they ARE learning. Kids learn through play. I think our society is a little misguided in that we try to force "formal academics" on our kids before they are ready to sit down and look at a piece of paper.

Try to develop lessons that involve movement of the whole body, are joyful and fun. Go to museums, parks and libraries. There are opportunities for math concepts in everyday activities like cooking and sorting laundry, etc. Worksheets come soon enough!

Enjoy your family, and pursue topics your children are interested in. Good luck!

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D.M.

answers from San Diego on

I may be repeating some info from others but I don't have time to read all their posts. I think there are free preschools out there, like Headstart Program. Check in the phone book for government assistance programs, but I've heard of some free ones, or very low cost ones. Also, there are a lot of fun educational toys out there, so with Christmas coming up, get him some! I think he is too young to start with workbooks, etc. If he has a late birthday, just start him late in Kindergarten, and there are a lot of public school pre-K programs. Don't sweat it, he's still real young.

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M.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter is the same way. She is in preschool this year & doing very well. I think that some kids do better when someone else is telling them something or than mom. We are sending her to a co-op preschool which makes it very reasonable. It's $130 a month! The parents work 2 times a month. It's actually fun. Also, at this age kids learn by playing. So I'd say try to find ways of playing that also teaches. Maybe you could go & check out schools just to see how they do it & make it work for you somehow. Hope this helps.

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C.J.

answers from Honolulu on

Don't ever let anyone speak ill over your child, saying he has ADD/ADHD. Stay positive and pray. Children will be children and they all act the same and different at the same and different ages. My son has been in school since he was 2/3yrs old. He had little issues with focusing and paying attention and playing with other kids. He was the only child at that time in our home but after years in school and consistency on my part he is now more focused and hardworking. He is 7 and in the 2nd grade.Of course he still has his moments where the teach is talking and he is playing around but then again whose child can you get all there attention from all the time. Definately not mine and I know a lot of other moms in the same position. So if you want get him checked out but don't let (if there is) the negative report that the doc gives get you down, that is your child and God is on your side.

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S.B.

answers from San Diego on

The other people had some great responses. Back off and let your son be a little boy. Those years go by so fast! I would be willing to bet that your son doesn't have ADD; he sounds like a normal, active 4-year-old boy. My belief, like some of the others who responded, is that children are overmedicated. With many US schools having no recess, there is no outlet for the kids to burn off their energy. Therefore, they're medicated.

One of the problems with the educational system in the US now is that kids are being pushed to do academic tasks, fill in worksheets, etc. when they are not developmentally ready for them. In Europe, where I live, kids don't start learning their ABCs and to read until they are in first grade (ages 6-7). They go from learning the alphabet to reading fairly complex texts in about 3 months because they're learning when they're ready. Even then, the learning is made fun and different styles are employed to make the learning fun. For example, the kids do math problems with color-by-numbers pictures in addition to rote drills and worksheets. If kids are pushed too hard and too early, they will rebel and either burn out or come to hate school and learning.

If I were you, I would put the worksheets away and let your son learn through play. That is how kids learn best. Make learning fun and a positive experience. Read to him and get him books with lots of pictures that he can "read" himself. I love Richard Scarry's books for kids your son's age. The easier Dr. Seuss books are also lots of fun for young kids. When you go to the store, count the items with your son as you put them into your cart or a bag. I also started doing worksheets with my son at a young age, but backed off quickly when I saw that he came to dread that activity. We did a lot of fun things like: playing War with cards (without the face cards), reading, talking about the different vehicles we saw (he was a vehicle man in his preschool years), playing Store with play money that we made and his toys, and just hanging around and playing together with his cars, building with Legos/Duplos or wooden train tracks, and making up stories with his toy dinosaurs. When we did fun things together, he was more willing to learn; and learning that 8 is more than 5 from counting the spades on cards stuck better with him than using worksheets or flashcards. Remember to give your son time to be a little boy and let him burn off his energy.

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K.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Please, please let your son be a 4 year old boy. there is plenty of time for workbooks and worksheets later. A four year old is all about their physical body, their head is in the clouds, they are developing their imagination. You need to let him play, play and play. If you let him develop his body first he will learn as he goes and only then will he be ready to be in his head. A four year old boy shouldn't be having to sit for long periods, or be be tested on his letters. You are putting to much pressure on him. Preschool is not mandatory for a reason, because this age is all about learning to play and socialize. That's what most good preschools focus on because that is what is age appropriate. Embrace your son's energy and let him be a child. He will never be this innocent and carefree again, plaese let him enjoy it!

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D.G.

answers from San Diego on

I totally understand what you are going through. My son just turned 5 and I had the same problem. He is very smart but did not like to sit down and go over practice books, etc. A couple of friends and I decided to get together and form a "buddy preschool" once a week. We always had our younger children with us. We each took a turn teaching the class of 3-4 boys, ranging from 3 to 5 years of age. We made it fun for the kids and kept the teaching to 15-20 minutes activities and included a snack break. We were creative with our teaching (example, the letter monster) and tried to document what kept the boys attention and what did not work. We tried to take some of the learning outside too -- hunting for numbers/letters, races, etc. I was fun and we got to challenge them. I'm happy to report that all of our boys have now started school and are doing extremely well. They definitely know more than is required in Kinder. There is a lot of information online, including requirements for Kinder and fun projects and ideas for teaching preschoolers. Don't pressure your son, just make it fun. Our boys looked forward to buddy school every Friday because it was fun. I hope this information helps. Good luck!

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L.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Earnestine,
He is acting like a normal 4 year old. You can try to "teach" him when you are doing normal things around the house (he can help you cook and read the recipe to you) or when you are driving in the car (play I Spy to help him recognize letters or ask him if he knows which way to go home). That may help. My niece was the same way. She even went to preschool and we were not sure she was ready for Kindergarten because she wouldn't focus and we didn't think she knew her letters and numbers. She is 5 now and just started Kindergarten. The first week was terrible. The 2nd week she decided she loved school, listens, does her homework when she gets home and can do all her letters now and write her name. So your so may be the same way once he's in school. He sees you as mom not his teacher so he's not focusing. When he is in school, he'll probably sit and listen to the teacher and focus. He is smart, he'll do well.

Hope this helps!

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L.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

Earnestine, I so understand how you are feeling as a MAMA myself, and it's wonderful to hear that you don't want to medicate your son. I was wondering have you ever thought about researching homeopathic and natural remedies for him? Sugar, dyes, different food combinations and even toxins (in the environment and home) can truly make a difference in a child's behavior. But, please also remember that kids are ALIVE and have feelings and spirit and do not deserve to be labeled or medicated. My only concern with going to a developmental pediatrician, therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist is that they will try to medicate your son, and I definitely know from personal experience psych medications do more harm than good and that, in fact, there are many natural solutions that can actually help with what your son is going through.

I highly recommend contacting Dr. Anita Pepi who is truly an amazing Chiropractor and Nutritionist and would definitely be able to help your son naturally.

Here's her data:

2950 Los Feliz Blvd. Suite 101
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 666~1088
http://www.drpepi.com

If she is too far for you, please let me know as I may know of an incredible nutritionist that is closer to you.

I'd also recommend contacting most amazing Occupational Therapist/ Life Coach that I know: Dani Sigal. She approaches her work from a holistic perspective, using fun child and family-centered approaches to support children in developing the skills and foundations they need in order to thrive. She can be reached at ###-###-#### or via e~mail at: [email protected]____.com.

I'd also recommend checking out 5 organizations validating why going the natural route is best for you and your son:
http://ablechild.org/
http://www.cchr.org/
http://www.fightforkids.org/
http://www.psychsearch.net/teenscreen.html
http://www.labelmesane.com/

You'll also find some amazing data regarding alternatives at: http://www.cchr.org/solutions_and_alternatives/

And, Earnestine, please watch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Xjx0gdL83I
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRJN_NfyiH4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgMovNmtRF0&feature=user
http://www.psychconflicts.org/
http://www.cchr.org/#/videos
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73SRn1gdAdM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcvCtxaiOGg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58UZqr3fiZ

Please free to contact me at: (323) 906~2784 or via e~mail me at [email protected]____.com.

I'd love to help you however I can.

With love,
L. (MAMA to 13 month old Dylan Orion.......29 September 2007) : )))

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J.L.

answers from San Diego on

hi Earnestine, Take the teaching of your son, slow, if you force the issue, you will turn him off from learning. As far as story telling, I believe the best time for that is nap time and bed time. as far as ADD ADAH what ever it is, I would not go there, it seems like everytime a child does not sit still they want put a lable on them, when if truth be told, their just un disciplined. With the Holidays coming up, let him do projects that have to do with the Holidays. I have a 4 year old little girl in my daycare who has always had the run of the house at home, and who won't sit still long enough to learn something, here at daycare it's not a problem, she can now print her name, and id you put her name among oher names she can pick her's out. I do kendergarden rediness in my daycare. J. L.

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J.G.

answers from San Diego on

Hi Earnestine:
It sounds like you just have a typical, energetic little boy. My son is seven and is very bright. He reads very well and is excellent in math but when he was in pre-school his teacher told me not to be surprised if he had to repeat kindergarten (he didn't). I really could never sit down with him and teach like I could with my older daughter who had, and still has, incredible focus. Ultimately he learned many of his reading and letter sounds from the Leapster videos (Talking Word Factory and Talking Letter Factory). I had the DVDs and a Leapster with the cartridges so he could bring it in the car. It made T.V. time productive!

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L.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

He's only 4!!!!! He's a boy, they don't focus well at that age. Let him play and work on gross motor skills. Let him be a kid. Wow why so much preassure???? Keep this up and he may be an 8 year old with an ulcer.

Relax let him develop on his on timing. Please for his sake.

L.
Mother of 4 (16-23) 2 of them boys

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L.I.

answers from Los Angeles on

I believe that his behavior is totally natural at his age - they don't have the attention spans we'd like them to have. The best thing to do for him is encourage him, not pressure - and always say positive things about him and his work, unless he misbehaves (you know, when he hits or lies, etc.) If he's needing to run around, then take him for a walk. If he needs to color a pic, then praise whatever he colors - I don't think at this point you should be looking into ADD!

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G.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am a preschool teacher and mom of a five year old (who is reading now!). Please don't force your your child to do worksheets, etc. He is still young and it is not necessary. What's most important at this point is that learning be made fun for him. If you push him too much, it will be a chore and he will only learn to hate doing it and try to avoid it. Stay away from worksheets and try instead to get him to play fun games that teach letter sounds, sing songs that involve counting, etc. Look online or at the library for preschool teacher books. They will be chock full of fun, creative ideas that will be fun for your child and teach him at the same time. This is what I've done with my daughter and she's doing great in kindergarten (ahead of most of the kids in her class!)
Trust me you don't want him to start hating homework at this age. Good luck!

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V.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

How much your kid knows at this point or recalls doesn't help distinguish him as a smart or cool kid and he can be both. With all the pressure his parents seem to be putting on him when he's just a 4 yr old kid who wants to have fun, no wonder he doesn't want to learn. Education isn't all about workbooks. You can have fun while learning. We play a lot of games and sing a lot of songs and my 3 yr old can spell his name (since he was 2), knows the sounds of the letters, can almost count to 100 and is very articulate for a 3 yr old. This is not because I sit and try to teach him all day. I play educational games, I play fun teaching CD's and movies and he doesn't even realize he's learning. One thing I did with counting is I'd say "I love you" while hugging or cuddling him and of course he'd say "I love you too" and I realized that I could keep going and said "I love you 3" and he says "I love you 4" and we'd giggle our way up counting together. Enjoy your 4 yr old and try to make learning fun instead of pressuring him to sit still. Just because he isn't a robot doesn't mean he's ADD. I'm a stay at home mom who's also a licensed childcare provider and somehow I'm teaching my preschooler while watching all school-agers and making drop-offs and pick-ups all day. If I can do it, I know anyone can. HAVE FUN! He'll learn anyways, I promise.

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M.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Besides talking to a Dr. about your concerns, I also think you need to let up a bit. He will learn how school works, and it sounds like he is under pressure with you and Daddy. And since my daughter had the same feelings about being liked more than learning, I really tried to point out how "cool" the smart kids were, and how the smart kids usually are the cool kids, since they are respected more than the kids who don't know anything. So far, she has seen that to be true. Anyway, good luck with it all, it sounds like you have your hands full, in a good way!

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M.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

The main focus for most preschools is socialization, not doing "school work" through worksheets. Join a mommy group. Kids learn a lot form eachother through playing. Also, read and talk to your child as much as possible. Point out interesting things and discuss them together.

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R.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Not sure what city you live in but there are several options available. I currently have my daughter enrolled in El Camino Childrens center which is a state sponsored pre-school MON-FRI from 8:30-11:30am and at no cost (low income qualified).

I also have my son enrolled with the city of Torrance that's 3 days a week for 3hrs a day and very cost efficient with the best teacher. Please go under city of Torrance website - non Torrance residents can register still.
There's also a preschool that thru the Torrance school district, a MON-FRI (3hrs a day) called Torrance Tykes program.

I've noticed a huge difference after enrolling my children. Their developing their social skills, motor skills (lots of arts and crafts), their speech and they learn without realizing their learning which makes it more fun for them.

Hope this info is helpful. I'm sure other cities offer similar types of programs. My son is 4 (will be 5 in Jan), my daughter just turned 3 and I have a 2month old.

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R.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

First of all take a deep breath and put the worksheets AWAY! Your son does not want to do them because they are BORING and you are going to turn him off to anything that is educational. Believe me, I almost made the same mistake with our son but thankfully I took a step back before it was too late. Now he is a little older (almost 5) and WANTS to learn these things and is well ahead of his peers. He just started preschool and he focuses there just fine even though he doesn't focus well for me. My husband and my M. both teach elementary school and I have my credential as well. If your son knows his letters (not the sounds), can write his name, knows numerals 1-10 and knows his shapes when he enters kindergarten he will be JUST FINE. He may be a little more active than some, maybe even be hyperactive, but forcing him to sit in front of the tv is not the answer. Some kids just need to expel their energy more than others. Let your little boy be a kid and stop forcing the academics - they will come. You will all breathe a little easier!

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S.A.

answers from Honolulu on

I think ADD and ADHD are way over diagnosed these days. I think people have forgotten that "kids will be kids" and we are not to expect too much from them and just let them be what they are; kids. I would not put him on drugs just yet, he is so young! And I think it's great that he would rather play than watch tv! At least he's not a couch potato!!lol. Just a very active little boy!
As for the teaching, maybe you can try and find new ways to teach him stuff that somehow makes if "fun". Maybe instead of just saying "what sounds does this letter make" try making it a game somehow, for example; give him a bag of foam letters and have him pick them out one by one and tell you what sounds it makes while you time him to see how long it takes him to go through them all, and then do it again to see if he can beat his own record! or something like that, you get the idea ;)
Best of luck to you!!

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T.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

PLEASE don't jump to have him identified as ADHD. He's only 4, most boys are not really ready to learn until they're 6 as they mature later than girls. And as others have noted, workbooks and worksheets are a huge turn off at this young stage. Use drawing, art, songs, have him sound off letters as a game instead, only focusing on a few letters a day. Have him write his letters in the dirt outside, making it a game, or using rice in a shoebox have him write letters with his finger. Make things a game and fun, that'll motivate him so much more. But I'd strongly urge you to back off, you have all the time in the world, and as someone else said, there is NO evidence that forcing early learning makes any appreciable gains beyond the 1st grade. Enjoy his boyhood!
T.

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H.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

one way you can calm your son down and help him to focus without medication is through his diet. Try to make him stick to natural food and drink. No fizzy drinks and few sweets.Rather fruit and fruit juice or water. THere are also good vitamin supplements with omega 3 and 6 and fish oils which are good for concentration. He also requires a strict routine and order and when you are doing a story or an activity you can let him chew gum as this stimulates the nerves going to the brain somehow to concentrate(heard this from an OT).Hope thiws can help you. Hope your child is not add but I am sure you will deal with it as time comes.

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S.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi. I am also "homeschooling" for preschool. My daughter is 3.5 years. I found some great "workbooks," the brand is Teacher Created Resources" and I found some at Cost Co. We only two pages a day- takes about 5 minutes, if that. I tell her after you get dressed, we are going to do your homework, then you can watch a show. She likes to know what is going to happen. We have a calendar we write on, and use stickers too. You can even do the worksheets outside at a picnic table. We are putting together a book- letter of the week (we go for two weeks!). She finds stuff that goes with that letter, cuts it out and glues it on the paper, at the end we will have a great book. This is a long term project which keeps her interest.
At this point school and learning should be fun! What are his interests- sports, dinosaurs, trains... go to the library, find books, movies and computer games on his interests. Go outside- sounds like he has a lot of energy. Use chalk and bubbles (fine motor skills), make an obstacle course (gross motor skills)... los of fun stuff!
Books on CD or tape (from the library) are great too. You can listen to them together in the car. I see that you have 3 kids, that is a lot of work. Try to take 10 minutes a day to focus on "school work."
Check out "First Five" in your community. It is free for kids 0 to age 5. In our community it is all "mom and me" type stuff, but siblings are welcome.
Don't stress!! It'll happen.

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M.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

Honestly, I think you're pushing it too hard. Try to find times to teach and learn that are more organic and part of your day. When he talks about his socks, ask what letter they start with...count stairs as you go down them. There's lots of ways to sneak in learning without struggling with him.

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S.Z.

answers from Reno on

Congratulations on being concerned about your child's education! But, I think you're a bit TOO concerned. Don't try so hard! You're making yourself and everyone else unnecessaily stressed.

Being wiggly and sqirmy is normal, even for kids much older than 4. Also, a child doesn't have to sit still and look straight ahead to hear and understand what you're saying. Sometimes it will look as if a child's attention is anywhere else, but they'll know exactly what you just said.

Don't sit there locked in a battle of wills for half an hour or more! If he doesn't co-operate, just say, "Oh, well, guess you're not ready," and send him to do something else - maybe a small chore. When he can get you to sit and focus exclusively on him by doing things wrong, you've 1. Shown him that messing up is a good way to get your attention, 2. He doesn't actually have to do it NOW, because you'll give him unlimited time, and 3. He can do the same in the future with teachers or coaches.

Try to "sneak" the learning into everyday activities and fun. Kids learn better from Sesame Street with its catchy songs, fun characters and cool visuals than they do from flashcards and lectures. Ease up and be less formal, and he'll actually learn more.

Finally, don't tell him that he can either be cool or smart (almost ANY kid or adult will pick cool), but let him know that IT's COOL TO BE SMART!

Sing the ABC song and any other song you can think of. Have him sort the laundry or groceries by type or color - "All the blue pants in this pile!" "All the vegetables on this shelf."
See who can make the most animal sounds. Ask why he thinks the leaves are changing color, or if he wonders why soap makes bubbles. Put some celery in colored water and see what happens. Take him to the library, the zoo, the aquarium, the museum and ask lots of questions - "How do penguins stay warm?" "How are tigers and bears alike?" Find recipes for homemade play dough or no bake cookies and let him make some. Curiousity, a broad range of interests and an ability to know how to find information is much better than memorization drills.

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J.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Earnrstine:
I agree with the other mothers here.It will benifit you and your son, if you take a breather and back off of the academics. His attitude,towards you teaching him at home is quite normal. He has a sibling attending school,and knows hes missing out on something. He wants to interact with other kids his age,and wants to be competitive.No matter what your technque for teaching,or what reward system you might have in place,theres no comparison.Your easy to please...Your his parents. Impressing or pleasing a school teacher.Now thats a feeling of acomplishment. Your boasting, can't compare to that feeling your child gets, when he recieves praise for a job well done, from someone who obviously doesn't favor him. This may sound like a silly example,but I bet others will agree. Getting my son to do a simple task ,like empty the trash was a struggle,There were more than a few times, that My neighbor,would come over and comment on what A Polite, hard working son I had! What??? He had helped the guy clean out his entire garage....and mowed and edged his lawn!!! For nothin??Just for the pleasure?? "NOPE" Simply for the PRAISE. I'm not a teacher,but I bet you a Kindergarden teacher would tell you,that it is just as important,as academics, that her students have the ablility to communicate,and get along with others. Thats why preschool is recomended,and I feel is important to every childs developement.I'd look into the program,some of the other mothers recomended. I bet you see a remarkable difference in his attitude.Don't make the mistake of labeling and medicating him.You'll never forgive yourself.I wish you and your darlin son the best.

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H.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Dear Earnestine,
I tried to write you a note, and it didn't go through. I am going to try to remember what I said as it was quite long.
First, I wanted you to know that your son is young and it may be part immaturity. Also some boys are more hyperactive, but not ADD/ADHD...my oldest son was like this and the K teacher had me test him...the psychiatrist said that if he was able to concentrate on things that he wanted to then it was not ADD/ADHD. Can he concentrate on construction a fort or tower out of blocks, trying to hit a ball that you throw at a little bat?

Secondly, try getting books he picks out from the library and then reading them to him (only when lots of other things are not going on and only for 5 -10 min max). Ask him questions as you read..such as "What do you think will happen? Where are they going? Why did the boy say that? " etc." This will help him stay with the story and help him prepare for school by building vocabulary and thinking processes. Let him "figet" many children do and are still listening. Figeting is suppose to actually help some children focus.

Thirdly, I would have him tested for allergies. Allergies can cause hyperactivity and difficulty concentrating. My doctor was actually telling me about her son that she ended up having to put in a special class, then had tested for allergies and removed those things from his diet and now he is back in regular classes and doing so much better. Gluten, sugar, wheat can cause it. But find out what it is instead of trying lots of diets. The doctor can send you to an allergist for testing and this might be the answer. I would want this tested before the ADD/ADHD testing.

Fourth, don't push academics if he is not interested. It will frustrate him and make him hate school. The reading is much more important. Vocabulary building by talking to him about his interests or what you are purchasing in the grocery store, etc. is good too. Have him do lots of active activities at parks, in your back yard, etc. and try some fine hand activities such as play dough or lining up small cars in garages built from blocks.

Last, I don't know when his birthday is, but with boys sometimes retaining them and giving them an extra year before starting school can do wonders. I actually have 2 of my three boys back and I never regretted it. One was just too immature and hyperactive and the other had no fine hand coordination and K is much more academic with papers, printing, etc. than it use to be.

Let us know if you have the allergy tests and/or the ADD tests. I will be praying for you and your family. I am glad to here you have a very supportive husband.
H.

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M.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Your son doesn't have ADD/ADHD. He is normal! I work with kids who have these sorts of "symptoms" and it has to do with misunderstood words. If you have something that you don't understand, then you are not going to pay attention. You are going to find other things to do. If you are interested, I have a book that you can read that would help explain the different types of barriers to learning. It can help you understand why students get bored, sleepy, distracted, etc. It's essential information to know if you really want to help your child learn.

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S.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

I haven't read all the responses, but thus far, I agree with Laurie and Amber. Please be careful. You could be setting your son up for not wanting to learn and be either completely unmotivated, or totally insecure. And I wouldn't talk about "being smart" or "not being dumb" etc...Even at this age, it sends a message that he's not good enough unless he's a certain way -- because you might find that no matter how hard he tries in school, his insecurity will prevent him from achieving his full potential.

I know this because I've been there. My parents meant well, but they too made comments like that and pushed me too hard too soon, that I was sooooo tense, I couldn't even answer a simple question like, "how much does 100 pennies make?". And then, their anger towards me "not being focused" simply because I didn't answer that simple question made it worse on my self-esteem and my ability to focus. I was 10 years old at the time. I should've known such a question. But the pressure was too great. I completely drew a blank.

That kind of pressure made me so insecure all through school. I always got decent grades, and I pushed myself to take hard classes (A.P.) to please my parents, but could never reach my potential. Eventually, that insecurity carried me into adult-life where I could not function in the real world because I always felt pressure to succeed and be better ...I tried and strived, but in the end, what I lacked was the right motivation, confidence, and approach to really go far in my career.

Now that I'm a mom, I do not want to do that to my kids. I do have a level of standards that I expect my kids to adhere in regards to their education, but telling them things like, "being smart will make them somebody"...is definitely not the approach to go. In fact, my husband and I pray that no matter what career our kids choose in life, that they will grow up to be caring, compassionate, and empathetic human beings...

BTW, my husband has been a first grade teacher for 11 years and has also taught K/1 combo a few times. He said that the average time a child at this age should spend on a subject is about 15 minutes. Their attention span will not last longer than that...so it really isn't because your son has any "medical issue". Therefore, my husband plans his lessons in 15-20 min. increments and then moves on to something else..

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J.M.

answers from San Luis Obispo on

Hi, Your son is only 4, now is the time to play and have fun!!! I have twin first grade boys who are also full of energy. There are so many things you can do if you want him to be "The SMART KID" First of all lay off the labels and the pressure. Reading to your kids is so important, make the library a weekly routine. Talking to your kids while in the car, grocery store, etc, make learning part of your every day life. Worksheets, flash cards, and grilling him on the alphabet could make him pull away from learning. If you have a child in school you know how much work it is, I can't believe what my kids are doing in first grade. Make sure he gets lots of unstructured play, physical activity, and quality time with mom and dad with positive reinforcement and you might see an improvement in his attitude.

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A.T.

answers from Reno on

Wait until he turns 7, and then you can have him sit in front of you for a couple of hrs and teach all the letters, shapes, numbers at once. There is such a pressure over our little ones, when in fact they can learn in 1 hr oncethey are 7 years old what we were trying to teach them endlesly when they were 3-4 years old.

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J.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Earnestine,
Check your local public schools, some offer pre-school. I am a teacher in LAUSD and the school I work at has pre-school. Pre-school really helps prepare our children, now in kindergarten the expectations for these kids is so high!
Good luck!

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