My granddaughter is having trouble in school and at home, but more at school. She is 5 1/2 years old and in kindergarten. She is having trouble not being still, moving hands or feet, and humming or singing. If the teacher explains how to do a picture she does it her way instead of how the teacher wants it done.

They have already put her by herself at a desk away from the other kids, and given her two one hour detentions and now a three hour one also. She is having a really hard time because she wants friends, but isn't allowed to interact with any. She loves people and does want to talk and sing all of the time, but when she comes out of school she is real quiet. What can I do to help her? I think the school is overly strict.

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    If that's all true, I personally think the way the school is approaching this is frightening.
    – dotVezz
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 3:19
  • I modified your question's title to clarify what you are actually asking about. Take a look at my edit and re-correct the title if you deem it necessary.
    – Dariusz
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 9:57
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    Detentions on that long are pointless in young children. An instant but short punishment is better - at home removing a cell phone for 30 minutes is more effective than taking the phone away for a week. Putting a small child into a 3 hour detention feels brutal. I'd be interested to hear evidenced based solutio s for active children. I suspect that a 10 minute run in the morning and afternoon would help a lot more than detentions.
    – DanBeale
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 18:23
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    I agree totally with the other comments - detentions 5 year-olds are riduculous. Definitely talk to the school, I would consider changing school if things don't improve.
    – rlms
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 21:02
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    If any school did that to my five year old, I'd go to the principal. If that got no results, I'd find a different school. This shows a level of ignorance or indifference on the part of the teacher which is, to me, appalling. Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:10

6 Answers 6


There are any number of conditions that might describe your granddaughter's behaviour but none that would be helped by the school's actions.

It is seems quite common for children to have low level issues that remain hidden until they reach school. These can be managed if diagnosed correctly, even if the diagnosis is simply that the child is a bit young and immature. We had troubles with our son at a similar age; he has sensory and hearing problems that he is now dealing successfully with (described here) .

We also had issues getting the school to give him the help he needed. We learned very quickly not to trust the school's assessment (teacher, head teacher and principal were all wrong) and found ourselves educating them with the correct course of action. It sounds like everything the school is doing is counter-productive.

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    To be fair to the staff, they aren't doctors, they don't have they qualifications or the legal authority to diagnose a medical condition. If the parents take the child to the doctor and get a diagnosis, they will undoubtedly become better informed about one child and his specific problems than a teacher who has 34 students with 34 different idiosyncrasies.
    – Marc
    Commented Feb 11, 2014 at 20:56

She may have an attention deficit, but as Karl says, that's a medical diagnosis, and not one that's easy to make in a single visit to a pediatrician.

Has she been to pre-school? Most kids have, and they have had a year or two of classroom-style interactions your daughter may have missed. She might just have to learn how we do things in a classroom.

About the detentions . . . I teach fourteen-year-old kids, and I wouldn't give a two hour detention. It's pointless. Fifteen minutes of lunch is usually quite enough, especially if it's a consistent "reward" for a given behavior. Two hours? When could they do that? You'd have to pick her up at 5:00pm.

It sounds like time for some personal observation. A parent should sit in class for a day and see what's expected of all the kids, and how your granddaughter is doing. Don't be confrontational - - you need information you don't have in order to address this, but something needs to be done or she'll learn she's stupid and she hates school. That's a lesson that's hard to un-teach!


This sounds a lot like my son's experience with school. It got worse, until in first grade he was crying most of the day, and we decided to withdraw him from school and educate him at home. Some kids just don't fit very well in the traditional classroom model.

The symptoms are suggestive of ADHD, but only a professional can make that determination, or rule out other possibilities. If you decide to continue with her current school, your next step would be to get an official diagnosis from a child psychiatrist, then initiate an IEP process or 504 plan, or whatever the equivalent is in your jurisdiction. That will ensure the school is giving your grandchild the appropriate accommodations for her specific individual needs. The psychiatrist will also give you strategies for how to help at home.


There are so many aspects on this. I've been on a different journey: not enough Asperger to get a proper diagnosis and I have a little attention deficiency as well. My son (Asp diagnosis) is barely at school. So I have read up on this.

First: she may fit into an ADHD diagnosis, and it may or may not help her. She may lack a significant trait for the definition, and then she is sentenced "normal" and will thus not get any aid. Trying to get a diagnosis may be futile. So why not take it more practical: this kid is overly active, there are with or w/o a diagnosis a number of things to do to circumvent what "trigs" an active mind, to calm her, make her focus and make her school days worth while.

Remember that school is a conformistic place where people (=kids) are supposed to behave in a conformistic manner. A manner that we adults prefer :) Your granddaughter is hyperactive. Ok P.C. people get offended, let's call her highly active. It may give the following results: She will overreact on external stimuli: "if the class runs, she runs. When the class stops she continues running, and may run into a table." "If on a hike she will follow all cars with her eyes, the class talks then she talks as well, when reaching the destination she is all worn out and teachers are irritated".

She may feel outside and different (due to her internal chaos or "odd behaviour") from the conformistic group. It may even end in depression. Her behaviour may be tolerated by most kids, but there are the quiet ones (Asperger, ADD, HSP), dreaming/absent minded kids who eventually get their day ruined since she may (not single handedly, mind you!) rise the class' noise / disruption etc level. That she didn't draw like the teacher said may not be "spite", maybe she just wasn't paying proper attention and then drifted away or even had a better idea! School with its abundance of stimuli makes her tired and quiet: home is calm, there she can recouperate.

I suggest you read up on ADHD and the simple circumvention methods that are used, like a cubicle to sit in and work. One can even have "dyslexia in the ears": problem with remembering oral instructions, while written instructions are just fine: a simple piece of paper saves the day! In my country some kids are seriously given ear protection at school in order to keep the world out!

ADHD people really aren't my cup of tea but that hyperactivity and that broadened mind that goes with it is really a good asset, if properly managed.

I seriously wonder if this is an epidemic in the western world.

  • ADHD is not an on/off condition. It has levels (parent of a very H ADHD kid here). Taking the kid to a medical professional is the first step whatever condition they may have. And welcome to parenting, P Oltergeist. Commented May 23, 2017 at 14:31
  • No, ADHD is indeed not an on/off condition. But it is an on/off diagnosis. If you get a diagnosis,then you are excused. If not (because of professional uninterest or ignorance or if you lack certain diagnostic traits), you just have to "shape up and pick yourself together", Also medical professionals may not be of help, unless they have read up on these modernities ("ADHD = just being a kid"). Having different kids or being different oneself is a long walk in the desert. But this is another discourse. Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 9:58
  • We are learning that ADHD is a symptom of many possible underying issues, not a diagnosis in and of itself. While some of the diagnoses are with the child, sometime it is a symptom that the current generation of teachers simply don't know how to deal with bright energetic kids any more, and the kids are bored to tears.
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 2:56

First of all, helping her may require medical consultation. See a doctor in order to determine whether she has ADHD or other similar condition.

What does she say when you ask her why does she do those things? Perhaps she is capable of stopping on her own. I remember I used to have some weird tics (? non- or partly-intentional movements). For a while my parents did nothing, but after they pointed out to me that I am doing it I started controlling myself and they disappeared completely. It wasn't that It was involuntary movement, I think just started doing it "because".

I would suggest some relaxing exercises. Have you tried doing some yoga with her? Or pilates/zumba/aerobics? If you have never done any of these yourself, you are in the best position to start right now and try to "drag" her along with you. If she likes it, I think doing it may help her. Such excercises will keep her focused on her body, all her moves will have to be controlled. This is my intuition only, I have no experience in this matter. I can't think of any negative consequences of trying it, though.

  • I don't know if this would help this specific problem, but I do know that time spent with children in quiet activities that allow for thoughtful conversation is always good. If not yoga, a daily game of checkers . . . anything where you talk about stuff in general, she talks about stuff, with something else as the excuse. It would also allow you to gauge her attention span and how she responds to frustration.
    – Marc
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 18:46

No, this is not normal. In fact I find it disgusting. The detentions are bad enough, but from what you have said, you granddaughter has been completely segregated from the rest of the class during lessons as well?

If this was one of my children I would arrange a meeting with the principle and class teacher to fully understand what is going on. Perhaps it isn't as bad as the image I now have in my head and it is only reasonable to hear their side. I can't imagine many scenarios where I would end up happy though, so would be fully prepared to consider other options than that school.

As a completely separate issue it does sound like your granddaughter might be having some particular difficulties that need further investigation, so would agree with others about consulting the appropriate specialists.

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