Help Me, My Child Does Not Follow Directions at School.

Updated on September 20, 2012
D.C. asks from Frisco, TX
8 answers

EDIT-I would like to rephrase my question because I don't feel I am necessarily receiving the responses I'd like to receive. School has just started 3 weeks ago and my daughter is having a hard time following directions (she is 6 and is in 1st grade). An example of such is she did not complete her coloring assignment because she threw her crayons in the garbage. She threw them in the garbage because some of them had melted because she took them outside during recess to finish her classwork. She did not notify the teacher that she did not have crayons to complete her assignment and in turn she got in trouble for not following the directions the teacher gave, which was to color her paper. She had this issue last year with her previous teacher and we tried a number of things at home that reinforced what the teacher was doing in class. She appears to be repeating the pattern and I would like some SUGGESTIONS on how to correct this behavior before it gets out of hand. Have any of you experienced this with your child and if so, what did you do that worked?

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answers from Erie on

Have her evaluated by the school psychologist (or the district one, it varies from district to district). But, I will tell you that the only thing that worked for my ADD son was the meds. We have to homeschool this year so he could go off of them to join the Air Force, he simply can't function in a typical classroom, the only classroom he did well in was Montessori.

She can't help that her brain is wired differently, please stop punishing her. If you've punished in the past and it didn't work, it won't work now. She sounds pretty typical ADD, inattentive type, but I'm not a doctor. There are things she can do to help her focus better and longer, to help her stay on track. Also, you can request an IEP after the evaluation in order for her to get services in the school to help her. The advice I always got was to help keep him organized, keep him on a schedule, but no matter what we tried, it all fell apart in a couple of days.

I'm a big fan of homeschooling kids like this, the activity in the classroom is almost too much to bear. I wish I would have done it sooner.

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answers from Grand Forks on

My son was having this problem in grade one as well. I had his hearing tested and had him see the school psycologist, both turned up nothing. I think he just grew out of it. His grade two teacher says he is doing fine.

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answers from San Francisco on

I think the best way that you can help her learn to following directions, is to expect her to follow directions at home the first time they are given. So if you do use that stupid 1,2,3 Magic, get rid of it. The teacher is obviously not going to tell her ANYTHING three times!

From this point forward, you need to EXPECT her to listen and do as she is told THE FIRST TIME. You need to make your home more like what's expected of her at school.

Also, one thing did jump out at me. I kind of don't believe that ALL of her crayons actually melted to where they could not be used in one recess period outside. I'm thinking that maybe you are letting your daughter give you EXCUSES that you may be accepting and she is getting some slack where she really shouldn't be, at least not until you have this issue behind you.

It is absolutely blowing my mind the number of people who think this child needs counseling or medication. She didn't finish a coloring paper. It's really not all that. She's six - she's just learning how to be in school and follow directions. For the love of Pete, give the kid a chance to get this school thing down and to mature a bit.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Well with your studies and background, I am sure you are aware how some of our brains are not wired the same. Nothing wrong with it, but we need to teach them coping skills through therapy, or allow them to try medication to see how it affects them.

Have your child tested and to hell with everyone else. If your child had cancer, would you take her to the doctor? If the doctor suggested treatment or medications, would you allow it?

This is no different. Your child deserves to be the best she can be.

Find your strength and hlp her be the best she can be.

I have known my husband since we wete 13, married more than 30 years. My husband has ADHD, his parents never allowed him to try meds. He worked so hard to follow the social rules, school rules, and expectations. It has never been easy and it still isn't.

He was recently given a few samples of a medication and he came home and said, wow, I have missed out on so much. He said he was productive and on task all day. He says he feels like he is cheating using the meds, because it is like it pulls back the curtains.

Here are the things my husband has trouble doing.

No sense of time.. Hours, minutes, dates, calendars... They baffle him.

He can hardly complete a project. He is interested in everything and can tell you how and why it works, but hates to sit down and write it out.

We will have discussion about what will be happening all day, what the plans are, by the time we get in the car he will ask, where are we going?what are the plans?


answers from Detroit on

So.... Are you saying she isnt punished at home for her behavior at school? By the time they are in 1st grade, they can certainly remember the days events.

Personally, if it were me. 1st, I wouldnt jump to the conclusion that she needs to be diagnosed with something.
After I have completely exhausted all punishments, positive reinforcement, tons of attention to the child, lots of talks, I would take my butt up to the school, sit in her classroom and WATCH her all day.

If that didnt help, I would take her to a doctor to be seen.

Maybe you should start with that you HAVE done to correct the behavior and go from there.



answers from Dallas on

What works well with my daughter is to have her earn our evening activities via the choices that she makes during the day. If she makes good choices, we get to do something fun like going for a bike ride, swimming, going to the park, etc. If she doesn't make good choices, we spend that time on chores. Listening to the teacher and following directions are good choices.

Another thing that has worked well is to tell her that when she's at school, her teacher is in charge. When the teacher gives directions, she is to follow them because the teacher is in charge. If she has questions, she should ask the teacher (good choice), but she needs to listen to what the teacher tells her.

I also talk to my daughter about how sometimes it is hard to follow directions and to listen to what we're told to do. I let her know that I have to do that too, even when I don't want to do it. I also talk to her about how it is hard to go into new situations (new school, new class, etc) because sometimes the rules are different and take a while to learn.

Finally, working with the teacher up front can help, too. Talk to the teacher about how you want your daughter to be successful in the classroom environment, learn her expectations and talk to her about things that you can do to help her be successful.


answers from Dallas on

It sounds to me like she is listening, and wants to follow directions, but she isn't communicating well with the teacher (like telling the teacher what happened with the crayons). Is she shy, or uncomfortable going up to the teacher to speak to her? Is the teacher friendly and open to questions? This sounds less like a discipline issue and more like a communication issue to me. I would try to work with her on that, and maybe ask the school counselor for some suggestions.



answers from Portland on

Punishing her will not help. In fact it will make the situation worse. I also recommend getting an evaluation. You can do this thru the school district. Federal law (No Child Left Behind) requires that districts provide evaluation and treatment if needed at no cost to the parent.

When you say she throws her crayons in the garbage it sounds like she may have some anger difficulties. I suggest that last years months of frustration and punishment is showing up in increased misbehavior. Instead of lecturing or punishing her, try sympathizing with her. Focus on finding a way to help her. I suggest reading the book How to Talk so Kis Will Listen and How to Listen so Kids will Talk by Adele Faber.

If you haven't talked directly with the teacher, do that. She will have some ideas that may help. You can also talk with the school's counselor.

I also suggest that since school just started, she will get better once she's once more used to the routine. Most first graders have these sort of difficulties at the beginning of the year. If you focus on the difficulties in a negative way now she is more apt to continue with them because it will feel like that his what you expect her to do.

Instead find everything positive so that you can praise her. Praise her more often than you correct her. By focusing on the times she gets it right she will want to do it right. When you focus on what she's doing wrong that becomes her world and she continues doing it.