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Both older children with attention problems at school - am i doing something wrong?

(9 Posts)
Dirtydishesmakemesad Thu 13-Oct-11 09:36:52

my two older children (ages 7 and 4 - so year 2 and reception) had a parents evening last night. Both teacher said pretty much the same thing, they are ok at what they do (both said they are in the middle groups which i am fine with)but that their concentration is awful, their work is messy because of lack of concentration and even though they dont misbehave they dont listen, my sons teacher gave the example of carpet time where he will sit but fidgets and clearly his mind is all over the place.
The older ones teacher has started an egg timer of 5 minutes and says in 5 minutes you have to have written once sentence but aparently its taking her all that time just to find a pencil!.My daughter aparently "sprawls" over her chair, gets drinks, goes to the toilet and does anything apart from the actual task.
I am in total agreement about the problem for both of them, they are the same at home well behaved but well i would say flakey and distracted (in the nicest possible way).

My younger daughters are still babies really (ages 2 and 1) but both of them have great concentration, the two year old has better pencil skills that the 4 year old so i dont get what i am doing wrong. Have I been a really bad parent to the older two then suddenly improved? I let them watch tv and use computers etc could this be making a difference?

The teachers didnt seem to have any major concerns other than that but the fact both of them said the exact same thing has made me think that there is something going wrong at home thats making them like this?

Does anyone have any ideas how i can improve this?

DooinMeCleanin Thu 13-Oct-11 09:39:52

Maybe it's the just the age of children? I have two of similar ages. Dd2 is as you describe your son to be. DD1 is easily distracted by her peers but can sit and do what she is supposed to be doing if it's something that really interests her. Her teacher said this is normal for her age and he'd be surprised if she wasn't distracted at that age.

Ben10WasTheSpawnNowWeLoveLego Thu 13-Oct-11 09:40:07

It is unlikely that there is something that you do at home but have a look at this. DS has dyspraxia (which can run in families) and it presents at school exactly as it does for your children. You can ask the school to refer for assessment or your GP if you think that there is an issue. The school should be able to put things in place to help anyway, even without a diagnosis, like writing slopes, fun games to help with fine motor skills etc

Dirtydishesmakemesad Thu 13-Oct-11 09:48:21

Ben10 both of my dcs but especially the older one fits alot of the things on that list perfectly shock.My DH was told at secondary school that he has dyslexia and fine motor control problems, he had to sit exams using a computer. Could this be related? My daughters teacher did sort of mention at the end that they dont really look for problem until closer to the end of year two she said that it was because the things they put in place now will either work and things would improve or they wouldnt despite efforts and then they would look more closely.
I did ask about dyslexia but the teacher said that although her handwriting was messy etc she was good with reading. My DH though is really good at reading and is a computer programmer now which means alot of reading?.

Grammaticus Thu 13-Oct-11 09:51:36

I believe that for most children, concentration is a skill that can be taught and practised. So you can work on them sitting still at mealtimes, not fiddling with stuff while that are watching tv, playing memory games (pairs games etc), sitting still when they draw at home. Help them to listen by asking them to repeat what you have said. Little things make a big difference.

piprabbit Thu 13-Oct-11 10:07:17

I think primary aged children are generally pretty flaky and easily distracted, I know my DD has a tendency to get very 'flappy' when asked to sit down and concentrate on a task at home (although she seems to do OK at school).

Firstly, are your DCs getting enough sleep or is there anything which might be impacting their quality of sleep (e.g. do they snore) ? There are studies that link lack of sleep with poor concentration in children. Something between 10-12hours sleep per night is a reasonable target in Primary school. You mention TV and computers - perhaps making sure that you have a bit of wind down time between switching of the screens and going to bed?

Secondly, take a moment to review their diets and make sure they are eating healthily, that they have a good breakfast and that there aren't any foods which seem to trigger reductions in concentration.

I know these aren't going to fix every concentration problem, but they may help and are entirely within your control to make adjustments to if you need to - rather than relying on the school and feeling helpless to help your children.

piprabbit Thu 13-Oct-11 10:08:24

that should read "switching off" blush, sorry.

Ben10WasTheSpawnNowWeLoveLego Thu 13-Oct-11 11:05:48


The school are right that if they are putting things in place like the writing slope, pencil grip in place then that should help either way but what it doesn't get you is any occupational therapy involvement should it be necessary. Also it sounds like your children are missing a lot of the lesson as they are not able to focus.

My DS has lots of sensory issues as well as fine and gross motor skills problems so we had to pay for Sensory Integration therapy which helped him with his vestibular sense (balance) as well as building his strength. You very rarely get this on the NHS if your child does have any sensory issues.

I would have a chat with the SENCO at the school and ask her for her views.

Ben10WasTheSpawnNowWeLoveLego Thu 13-Oct-11 11:07:10

BTW DS has just started Y2 and they first picked up the issues in October in Y1 for exactly the same reasons as your DC. I am pleased that it was picked up sooner rather than later so that we could start exercises and they could put interventions in place.

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