Kinder: Son lacks motivation and focus — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Kinder: Son lacks motivation and focus

Hi moms,

I am writing to received some feedback and suggestions. PLEASE

My son is 4.5 and will be 5 in February. He is currently attending a Montessori in the Kindergarten program. My son, has always been..difficult both at home and school. Here are some examples:

-Doesn't sit still in circle time, probably 4 out of 5 days in school, he is always getting pulled out of circle time because he disturbs class due to not sitting still, moves around, not paying attention, etc. (I don't want him to adapt to the idea that I don't want to learn so I can disrupt class and get pulled out)

-Take today for example, I sat in class to monitor him. He was the kid that is half-laying on the floor at circle time. During individual work time, he was supposed to stack the cubes of beads to represent the number units. He was playing with it and won't stack it nicely until the teacher came to question him about it. Only then, the teacher has to make an effort to get his attention.

-he can't make eye contact with you for more than 10 seconds. He is almost always looking around and just doesn't show respect by looking at you in the eye. Even when we scold him, his eyes will wonder...however if we talk to him normally, then his concentration is fine.

-when I ask him why he doesn't listen to teacher, he says, "I can't learn. It's hard." "School is boring...etc". "I can't listen" "I am not a good boy"...

-He lacks the maturity level of kids his age. I feel he is always goofing off, not taking things seriously.

-he definitely loves to play outdoors. However, anytime we enroll him in a soccer league,  or just birthday party and if its his "turn" to do something, he always shys away or just says "no" to participation.

-80% of the time he DOES NOT listen and the remaining 20%, I wouldn't say he is an angel but at least he sort of cooperates. 

-I continue to focus on teaching him phonics at home after school, anytime he encounters something he doesn't know..he gives up easily. "I dont know, it's hard..I don't want to do it". It's almost as if, he won't try.

-I mark on a calendar, how many days out of the month that we'd be arguing which turns into a tantrum/crying fest. Today is the 25th day of Sept, out of 25 days, he has cried 12 days. So basically, every other day, there's some confrontation/ argument/push back in the house.

I don't want him to grow up to be a "I can't do this..I can't do that.." type of person. In his classroom of 24 kids and 2 teachers (however, 1 seems more like a helper/assistant than a teacher); I feel he can do much better with a smaller setting and more one-on-one attention.

 I have read Positive Parenting and he is the difficult kid that if I give him an option, "Do you want x or z?" he will say "No, I want Y". If I stress on just X or Z as options, it will then turn into a tantrum/cry fest.

I guess I am asking if moms have any suggestions on how to better educate and parent a child like this.Does it sound like he has ADHD? I have considered taking him to a child psychology to see if there's something to learn about his psyche. Anyway, anything you can share would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

Re: Kinder: Son lacks motivation and focus

  • Do you think he would benefit from a more structured environment? It's possible he has a hard time focusing in less structured classrooms. Something similar happened with my nephew.

    As for his lack of confidence, work on things you know he can do and focus on how he did those things on his own. Ask him how he figured it out, etc. This can lead to discussions of how he learned to master those things and it took practice.

    DD frequently says she can't do things, so we've been reminding her it doesn't have to be perfect and she just needs to practice.

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  • What is your age cutoff for starting Kindergarten?

    Do you think that maybe he should not be in a Kindergarten program. Most kids today are starting kindergarten when they are at least 5 years old(or turning 5 within a couple months of the start of school) and a lot of kids are 6 when starting kindergarten.  Your son won't be 5 until February.  To me it sounds like they are expecting too much out of him at the age he is. The Montessori philosophy is not for everyone too, maybe your son needs a more structured environment and maybe look at sending him to a PreKindergarten type of class.  I personally feel he is too young to be diagnosed with ADHD, the typical age is 6 years old.

  • I'd take my focus off 'education' and look more closely at behaviour and what is driving those behaviours.  I'm certainly no expert, but a kid who has difficulty staying on task and who is so emotional on a regular basis suggests a kid who needs a third party to get involved.

    promised myself I'd retire when I turned gold, and yet here I am
  • I would also like to know the town's cutoff. Is this junior kindergarten or "regular Kindergarten/senior Kindergarten? If he would be in first grade next year he is just too young for it, he is probably 1.5 years younger than some kids in class.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • image W.E.2/12/05:

    My son, has always been..difficult both at home and school.

     he is always getting pulled out of circle time because he disturbs class 

    he just doesn't show respect by looking at you in the eye.

     I ask him why he doesn't listen to teacher

    I feel he is always goofing off, not taking things seriously.

    he just says "no" to participation.

    -80% of the time he DOES NOT listen and the remaining 20%, I wouldn't say he is an angel but at least he sort of cooperates. 

    he gives up easily. "I dont know, it's hard..I don't want to do it". It's almost as if, he won't try.

    So basically, every other day, there's some confrontation/ argument/push back in the house.

    "I can't do this..I can't do that.." type of person.

     I know that the purpose of your post was to describe your son's behavior so that you can get some help and feedback from other moms, but I was struck by how often, in your post, you went beyond merely describing his behavior and used words that evaluate and judge not just his behaviors and actions, but HIM as a person. 

    Even something as simple as asking him, "Why don't you listen to the teacher?" sends a strong message of disappointment and disapproval to the child.  It shames the child.  When you ask the question, it's your way of saying, "I want you to understand how serious this is and help you stop doing it."  But that's not what your child hears, I can guarantee you.

    What your child hears is, "You've messed up, you're always messing up when you should be doing it right, and I think you're a bad kid."  Seriously, why ask him that?  If he really had it figured out, he'd stop doing it.  No 4 year old kid WANTS to be the "problem" kid at school!  He's surely not behaving this way for the sheer joy of it.

    Is it any wonder that he seems to be giving up already?

    Like PP said, I think you want to think seriously about whether your 4.5 year old should be in a kindergarten setting.  I don't know whether Montessori just calls their whole program "kindergarten" when they really mean "preschool" but if he's really in a class that's being conducted as an elementary school class, he's probably struggling because he's not ready for it yet.  You're working on phonics with him, which is great, but it may be that he's just not ready to learn in that type of sit-down-and-study-it way.

    FWIW, when my son was 4.5, he also had a meltdown about every other day over some minor problem.  There was a time when I thought, "Ugh -- really?  You're crying again?"  But this was also something that gave me a clue that he wasn't going to be ready for kindergarten in a few months, when he was just turning 5.  I waited until he was 6 before starting him, and he has had a wonderful experience in his primary grades.

    If he's really in a program that's appropriate for a 4 year old, and he sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the other 4 year olds, then I would consider seeking testing for him.  Start with recommendations from the school staff and from your pediatrician.

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • Like Neverblushed said:
    "Like PP said, I think you want to think seriously about whether your 4.5 year old should be in a kindergarten setting.  I don't know whether Montessori just calls their whole program "kindergarten" when they really mean "preschool" but if he's really in a class that's being conducted as an elementary school class, he's probably struggling because he's not ready for it yet.  You're working on phonics with him, which is great, but it may be that he's just not ready to learn in that type of sitdownandstudyit way.

    If he's really in a program that's appropriate for a 4 year old, and he sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the other 4 year olds, then I would consider seeking testing for him.  Start with recommendations from the school staff and from your pediatrician."

    I wanted to add that my DD is in a Mintessori school that goes until Kindergarten. She is 3 and is in there with Kindergarteners but she is NOT in Kindergarten. Our school has the Kindergarteners with the 36 room and a seperate Kindergarten in the afternoon. If he is "just" in the 36 it is possible Montessori is not for him, I would move him to a play based school to see if the behavior improves because you need to know how he acts in other settings. I am actually surprised that you have not already had him evaluated if he cannot listen 80 of the time, if this is accurate that is a HUGE redflag.
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • Hi moms, 

    thank you everyone for sharing your candid thoughts and feedback, I really appreciate it! Based on most of your comments, I am realizing he is just not at the ripe age to join kindergarten. By the way, he IS in the montessori's kindergarten but I believe their cutoffs aren't so strict so they moved him to kinder with other mostly 5 year olds. I treat this year as a "transitional" year for him, next year I plan to put him in the public school's kindergarten so he will be with his normal age group. 

    Thank you to the mom for bringing out my tone of voice to him and how it may make him feel so shameful. I will think twice on how I question him or talk to him.

    additionally, I have contacted our school district to begin the assessment process registration to see if there is something more that I could be doing to help him ( if there's something).

    again, thank you ladies...I can learn so much from all of you super moms!

  • Only thing I want to add to what was already said in more in response to someone who made a comment about ADHD not being diagnosised until kids are older.  That train of thought is now changing and behavioral specialists (not your ped) can diagnosis ADHD in younger kids.  Not all the time but it is possible and the early intervention can help so much.  If your child has been in a preschool/daycare setting (play based or other), that will help as you need to gather information from your child in a variety of settings.  Many kids act very differently at school than they do at home with mom and dad.  My older DD was diagnosised with ADHD last fall when she was a few months past 5.  We started the process with the Behaviroal Clinic (she had a 2 days intense assessment which included 4 different docs including a speech therapist, Behavioral Pediatric MD, a psyhologist and one other who I can't recall the title but really concentrated on the more academic side of things and some neuro things).  It was intense.  WE also filled out reams of paperwork as did her speech therapist (she has an IEP and has been in speech therapy since she was 3) and PReK teachers.  We ended up holding her back a year and she did her PreK program for 2 years and started Kindergarten this year - she turned 6 in June.  It has made a life changing difference to give her an extra year to mature and for us to work on the ADHD things - for her medication was the answer along with a lot of bahaviroal therapy (the two work great in combination).  Medication is not a bad thing but bottom line is talk to a team of behaviroal specialists and see what think in regard to a diagnosis and form of treatment.
    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
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