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I just had a chat today with the teacher of my 7 years old daughter. The teacher told me my daughter has a very short attention span during the class. She can't concentrate more than a few minutes on a subject.

Like all good parents I suspect the problem also comes from the teacher not making her class interesting enough! But still I would like to help my daughter.

The teacher said my daughter was bright - she only has very good grades - but she could be even more successful if she was a bit less fidgety.

Any tips much appreciated!

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4 Answers

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If your daughter is very bright, and it would appear to be the case, then the lack of attention might be caused by simple boredom. The teacher has to make sure all students learn the material, but this often means that the smartest in the class are bored. There are several ways to handle this.

One method would be for the teacher to change teaching style to be more engaging, and provide challenges on different levels so that there is something for everyone. This would be a suggestion for the teacher though, and you might not be able to suggest this without insulting her.

Other methods involve giving the child extra tasks during class, either covertly (tasks given by the parent, at home) or overtly (extra assignments given by the teacher).

  • For the former, you could give your daughter extra instructions, for instance paying attention to any special words the teacher uses, and discussing them at home, or collecting statistics on how often the other kids answer, and do so correctly. If nothing else, this gives your daughter something to do instead of daydreaming, and it might even help her learn new things or words.
  • Extra assignments from the teacher might not be allowed from the school, this depends on national and regional laws.

Discuss these ideas with the teacher, perhaps you can come up with something even better. The goal is to find something that engages your daughter and keeps her attention high, without creating a lot of overhead or extra work for the teacher.

These other questions might also have useful answers for you:

Update based on comments:
I don't mean to say that the problem the teacher or her style. Based on the details of the question, it appears that the problem is paying attention in school so the solution must involve that place too, though of course not necessarily driven by the teacher. I am offering ways to improve the attention by having the child do more. It's just that someone has to give her some tasks -- either the teacher or the parent.

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I think this is a good answer if the issue happens to be teaching style. It may very well be that, but it's also a bit premature, IMHO, to just assume the teacher isn't skillful enough to retain one particular child's attention. –  DA01 Dec 1 '11 at 17:35
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@DA01: I have to disagree. From experience most teachers are woefully inadequate at engaging children, especially those of outlying intelligence (at both ends). I'm not saying that they are necessarily bad teachers, it's just a hard job. But attention span comes on it's own if the teacher is enthusiastic and entertaining enough. –  Nico Burns Dec 3 '11 at 1:38
    
You are free to disagree, but I'd say that's a gross overgeneralization. –  DA01 Dec 3 '11 at 3:31
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Why assume it is the teacher's problem? What is the harm in researching other possibilities? Having her tested for attention issues won't hurt anyone and may explain what is going on. –  morah hochman Dec 19 '11 at 20:09
    
I've added an update to my answer to address your comments. Thanks! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Dec 23 '11 at 8:05
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Could be normal 7 year old behavior.

Could be your teacher is boring.

Could be ADD or some variant there-of.

Could be a LD or some variant there-of.

Could be that she's not being challenged to her level.

UPDATE: I suppose I should clarify my point...

The reasons why she could be not retaining attention are incredibly varied and span a rather large spectrum of reasons.

I grew up with undiagnosed ADD and my mother chose the 'apply yourself lecture' which really didn't work at all (as you'd expect). Later in life as an adult, I've found some methods and medications that work perfectly.

That's but one example and an example of a treatment that would be completely wrong for any of the other reasons listed above.

As such, the answer is: we really can't answer this without more research as to the root cause of the problem (or if it's even truly a problem).

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I would work on a behavioral cue, something that I could do when I notice her attention wandering to get her back on track again. Not something as demeaning as a finger snap, but something subtle that only she would recognize.

Also, possibly a reward system. At her age the promise of a sticker, or something similar for periods of attention may get the result you want. And then lengthening the amount of time it takes to get the reward as it becomes easier.

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The only possible reason for an increase in attentiveness I can think of that you can really do anything about immediately and realistically is if she is feeling anxious about something and thoughts about it are distracting her. This is something you could help her with by asking her about it gently and supportively. and then talking through whatever it is and problem solving.

If the problem is that she is bored, you will need to speak with her about how to pretend she isn't bored for now and then look into options like gifted programs, other schools or homeschooling. Look up AEGUS if you do determine she is gifted (Association for the Education of the Gifted and Underserved Student).

If it is a problem with ADD or some other difference that makes her unable to focus, she cannot help her behavior and will need to learn some alternative techniques to help her learn in slightly different ways. See if the teacher will allow her to use fidgets or sit in the back of the room where she can wiggle and move without disrupting others because the movement might actually help her learn. See "Teaching Wiggle Worms" on Pinchxeverything.blogspot.com

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