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Getting Your Child Back on Track

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: In kindergarten, my first-grader wanted his work to be perfect so he took his time doing it. His kindergarten teacher kept pushing him to get his work done sooner. Now, he is easily distracted and lacking concentration. How do I get him back on track?

A: First grade is not kindergarten. Your son has a different teacher with different expectations, and he is surrounded by a new group of students. It is fairly early in the year to be too concerned about your son's behavior as he may still be adjusting to his new surroundings.

Nevertheless, it is always important to nip any problem that could cause serious difficulties later on as soon as possible. You need to work with your son's classroom teacher on measures that will help him focus better in the classroom. The teacher might seat your son in the front of the class or have him sit in a study carrel wearing earphones to eliminate some of the classroom distractions when he is completing an assignment.

At home, you should engage your son in activities that require his close attention. Play games with him where staying focused is essential. When you read to him, stop frequently and ask him what is going to happen next to keep his attention on the story. Give him tasks from setting the table to making his bed, and praise or reward him for handling them in a timely manner. And do limit his TV viewing time, as it does not help children lengthen their attention spans.

Be sure to observe your son when he is doing schoolwork to see if you can figure out what distracts him. Plus, why don't you simply talk to your son and ask him why he is having trouble at school staying focused and what could be done to help him concentrate better on his schoolwork. He might just know the answer.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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