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How can I help my 7yo boy concentrate in class?

(19 Posts)
Needabitofsunshine Thu 01-Sep-11 12:55:38

Ds started yr3 a few weeks ago. Last year his report, whilst hitting all objectives but not excelling, was littered with comments about needing to focus, is easily distracted etc. He is a summer boy, so just turned 7 2 weeks ago, so I know this is not unusual.

Does anyone have any tips on how to spur him on a little? If I'm at home reminding him to keep going with things, he will do it, but if I leave him for 5 mins and come back, he'd probably only have done 1 sentence. Does anyone have any experience with having a cohesive strategy at home and in school? I feel anything we do at home needs to be backed up at school (obviously vice versa too) as he is doing the majority of his school work there.

I know he needs to settle back in but I'd like to support him as much as I can this year, as all chats with his teacher last year didn't lead us to believe there was anything to worry about but then there were numerous comments in his report...

Any insights greatly appreciated!

IndigoBell Thu 01-Sep-11 12:57:34

Omega fish oil

KatieB1974 Thu 01-Sep-11 14:03:03

Your post describes my just turned 7 year old almost exactly (but in his case one sentence, even one word, would be a major achievement!). I'm hoping the summer break may have broken the cycle and I keep saying how exciting Y3 is going to be in the hope some of my enthusiasm rubs off. If there's one thing he does enjoy it's a time challenge - setting a stopwatch, egg timer, alarm clock etc. and seeing how much he can do in the time sometimes (but not always) works.

Needabitofsunshine Thu 01-Sep-11 14:41:48

I've tried fish oil, but he mutinied. Timer does work sometimes, but the best I've found is bribing/rewarding with a sweet or two... Not sure the teacher would be on board with that!

sarahfreck Thu 01-Sep-11 14:54:22

Can you get the teacher on board with a sticker system ?- he gets a sticker in a book ( or teachers sig) for each lesson he has tried hard and concentrated. You set him a target ( ie stickers for 50%+ of lessons). If he reaches his target that week you get him a previously agreed treat. Once he is consistently meeting that target, increase the %.

Ask the teacher what are his specific issues with concentrating (what would she like to see him doing each lesson). Laminate a little reminder card with these points that he can blutac to his table as a visual reminder/prompt.

Do a "concentration challenge" with him at home.
Have a graph/chart to mark how many minutes he has concentrated each day.
Ask him to do some work from a workbook (deliberately pitch it at the easier end of his ability range) and stay in the room with him. time how long he works without wandering off, staring into space for ages etc. Let him mark how many minutes on the chart. Next day, see if he can beat his previous score. You could give him a sweet for each 3 minutes he concentrated (or whatever is appropriate). Getting him into the habit of knowing that he can concentrate is half the battle!

Just a comment regarding the fish oil. I had mutiny the first time we tried fish oil with DS (7). He doesn't like fish at all though so I wanted to try again (actually after reading one of your threads Indigobell - thank you). Anyway, we bought some more, told him why he needed it and that it was important to eat fish, the rest of us like it but if he wanted to carry on not eating it, fine, he could have this instead. We used Eye-Q liquid. Started him off in March, within three weeks his teacher came to find me to ask what I had done to him as his concentration had improved dramatically, it has at home too. The teacher has continued to make comments about it through to the end of term. He has continued taking it fairly willingly too.

School could also possibly help by sitting him so he is not facing anything that distracts him (for example my DS is supposed to be seated to not to be able to see computer screens unless he is using them as he glances at them all the time otherwise).

Timing works well for my DS too, he is very number orientated and loves using a stopwatch to time himself and beat records etc, so SarahFreck's suggestion I think is a good one too.

I should say that this is part of a catalogue of problems that my DS has, he is on the autistic spectrum (although not diagnosed as such) and has some traits of dyspraxia and various other issues. Not suggesting your DS has these but wanted to give a full picture.

crazycarol Thu 01-Sep-11 22:56:49

You can get different fish oil tablets. DD only likes the orange flavour ones (can't remember the name sorry) we got it from boots. One time I got her a different one and she found it disgusting.

MollieO Thu 01-Sep-11 23:03:37

By having a teacher who makes learning interesting. Ds 7 about to start in yr 3 is exactly the same. I think it is because he is bored in class so I'm hoping that things improve this year. He makes no effort in class at all.

He did an activity over the summer for three days which required him to concentrate and focus. His teacher said that he was unbelievably focussed and she was very surprised when I told her how he was at school.

smelli Thu 01-Sep-11 23:23:51

I think the fish oils research discredited. The latest research show no effect whatsoever. See here .

I would concentrate on exercise, sleep and keeping what you are doing interesting. Bribery works too but maybe call it a bonus...

Needabitofsunshine Fri 02-Sep-11 06:03:16

Thanks for your replies. I'll have another go with the fish oil as I am a big believer in it for general health anyway.

You've given me great ideas to work with. MollieO, I know a good teacher would make a massive difference. His teacher this year comes with a really bad rep and certainly hasn't impressed so far. I didn't mention that as I'm trying not to judge (at least not for the first month or so!), plus this was an issue from last year when he had a great teacher. Timing/challenges will help at home, but it's still at school that something needs to happen. Will make an appt to see his teacher in a couple of weeks to discuss it.

GotArt Fri 02-Sep-11 06:13:34

Deepak Chopra says to have the child meditate for as many minutes as they are old, each day. Have them concentrate on breathing and thinking about their breath. deepakchopra.com/2008/10/ask-deepak-teaching-children-meditation/

I've read the Ben Goldacre thing Smelli, but thanks. For me it's a bit like homeopathy, I am prepared to believe it works for some people even if the research doesn't support it. DS's improvement cannot be said to be proof that it works, it could just be coincidence, but as he won't eat fish at all, I still think it is a good supplement for him to be taking.

IndigoBell Fri 02-Sep-11 08:09:06

Ben goldacre does not say fish oils don't work. He says he's not happy with one study that says it does work. That's not the same thing at all. There have been hundreds of studies on fish oil and there is lots of evidence that it works.

However it will only work if your child is deficient in omega in the first place. And the easiest way to tell if your child is deficient is to give them supplements and see if they help.

If your child is deficient you will notice an improvement.

But fish oils have def not been proven not to work. It is just very hard to design and carry out a suitable study.

mummytime Fri 02-Sep-11 10:27:10

I would back up fish oils. I also would make sre he is getting enough exercise. No TV before school, preferrably a walk to school, if not make sure there is some exercise on before school. Definitely exercise after school before homework. Don't expect him to concentrate for too long. I wouldn't just leave him to get on with it, sit with him (reading a book and drinking tea if necessary).
I would also talk seriously to his teacher. Are her expectations too high (is it a school that copes better with compliant girls than lively boys)? How much homework does he get? Does he get kept in at break time? Does she think there is a problem? (Maybe do other parents of boys here the same complaints?) Does she think there is a problem?

ragged Fri 02-Sep-11 10:38:15

I found that DS goes to sleep more easily (quickly) when he's on fish oils.
Can't see that it's helped in any other way... but then again, I can't know what he'd have been like without Fish oils. DS is both high distractible & very capable of hyper-focus (it's an ADHD trait, though no one but me thinks he's got that).

I agree it depends which fish oil product you try. DS (just 7) prefers plain capsules to other ways of ingesting it.

dolfrog Mon 05-Sep-11 16:15:28

Needabitofsunshine

The age of 7 - 8 is the age of maturation, when children stop growing out of cognitive developmental problems, and is when these issues can become considered as a clinically diagnosable disability.
The issues you have described could have a few possible underlying causes. ADHD has been mentioned, there are three subtypes of ADHD which are described in the appendix of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Focused Overview for Children?s Environmental Health Researchers which is concerned with various types of attention issues.
There is also Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) a listening disability, and when children who have APD are not able to process waht is being said they can loose the plot very easily and not understand what a teacher or others may be saying. best described in ATTENTION & MEMORY ASPECTS OF APD

thecaptaincrocfamily Mon 05-Sep-11 22:16:17

just a thought but if he has always had poor attention ......... what bribery sweets does he have? Some make my dd1 hyper as I discovered when she began pelting up and down the isles in Tesco! grin having usually been well behaved. Also do you use low sugar squash ....... does it contain aspartame? this can send some children hyper too. Red colouring is another, in things like red ice-cream lollies, some icing etc. Just a thought.........

thecaptaincrocfamily Mon 05-Sep-11 22:19:17

Oh and dehydration can also cause it, as can low blood sugars i.e. too long between meals/ diabetes. Needs about 10-11 hours sleep at this age, again overtiredness can make children hyperactive and lack concentration.

thecaptaincrocfamily Mon 05-Sep-11 22:23:06

Another issue could be vision ..... if he is struggling to see properly he will be more likely to be distracted, now lots of children play computer games the muscles in the eyes develop differently because reading requires training the eyes down onto the desk/page whereas when they play games they look straight ahead at the screen.

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