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My oldest son Freddy is 8 years old and he is in second grade. Since he began school I noticed that he had problems in focusing in the class. First I thought it was normal because he was in kinder-grade and he was the kind of child that gets distracted very easily, but now that he is in second grade he is still with the same problems. In consequence his teacher told me, that if he doesn't improve his grades he is not going to pass the year. How can I help my son?


Bruce Gilberg Replied: The issue should not be grades. Instead, your son's specific problems with learning must be identified. Not focusing may be a symptom of cognitive and/or emotional difficulties that undermine the learning process. I would request a psychological evaluation that sorts through your son's learning skill strengths and weakensses. If the problems are not clearly defined, another year in second grade may complicate rather than ameliorate the problems.
Posted On 2008-04-15 17:17:55
Christine Hierlmaier Nelson Replied: It is very hard when others pass judgments on your child. First, know that you are doing the best you can for your son. You are concerned and looking for answers. I applaud you. As you know, some children are hard-wired to be easily distractible. They can have difficulty paying attention in group settings with all the associated activity and noise. Children's brainwaves are also not fully developed to remain in focused and relaxed alpha brainwaves to receive instruction. That's why you often have to tell children to perform a task three or four times...and sometimes stand there while they do it! Spend some time in class to observe when Freddy gets distracted so you can address the issues well informed. I would first suggest talking to the teacher about giving Freddy instructions a second time after instructing the class as a whole to ensure that he has heard and understands the expectation. Another option that may work well is to request additional paraprofessional help to work with Freddy one-on-one with his studies. You have the right as a parent to get this support and do everything you can to improve his chances of success. Catching these issues early is very important so that he doesn't fall behind or begin to dislike school. Freddy may also benefit by having his own study nook to focus on his work. This option should be approached not as a punishment, but as something positive and special that helps him focus and learn. It will be very important to gain the support of his teacher, the principal and any other helpers to ensure that Freddy feels supported in his schoolwork rather than singled out. Children like Freddy can be labeled as "problem children" because they require extra attention or disrupt the class. Be a strong advocate for your child to ensure that the school is focusing on his strengths and is providing tools to support learning.
Posted On 2008-04-14 07:48:20
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