I have a 5-year-old who's in kindergarten for the first time this year. He is a smart person, but in class he's not staying focused. He gets sidetracked easily but he can comprehend and get the concept of playing video games, using a smartphone, and even computers. When it comes to staying on focus in class, however, he is having some issues. I'm trying to see what I can do.

His teacher seems like she's trying to help but all she can really tell me is the negative side of his behavior rather than any of the positive things he is doing in class. She always tells me he can't stay on focus and complete his schoolwork. What can I do to deal with this situation and how can I work with this teacher better to improve my son's ability to stay on track?

  • Hello Patrick and welcome to Parenting.SE. I took the liberty of editing your question by creating a clearly defined question that can be answered. This is a great community that loves to help so hopefully you will find some good advice. Please take a look at the help center and make sure you take the tour – SomeShinyObject Feb 7 at 0:19
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    How often is he on the computer, on smartphones? Screens and interactive games mess with the human reward systems, and lower attention spans, especially in kids. – Mafii Feb 7 at 8:35

The best thing to do at this age is help him enjoy learning (and school - by making it fun), discover interests, and build social and personal skills. Young children put far less attention into activities they don't particularly like, have fairly short attention spans in general, and can be very active. If he is struggling in an area, work with him on it, but don't push him too hard or for too long.

Are their any museums, exhibits, or other institutions in your area that offer interactive science and technology experiences?

As to addressing deficits, you really need more specific information from your son's teacher about exactly what he is having trouble with. Ask lots of questions.

  • What exactly is he having trouble with?
  • What is he good at?
  • What does he like to do?
  • Does he have trouble getting started, or does he lose interest after a much shorter length of time than expected?
  • etc.

My wife works with preschoolers and kindergartners, and I have observed classes with children this age (my middle one is halfway through his first year of kindergarten). "On track" is a very general term for this age group, and change or learning often happens in fits. At 5, your son could also be on the young side, which makes a much bigger difference at this point. His overall progress may not be very well demonstrated by his ability to sit still and complete work (young or not).

That being said, there are some things he should generally be able to do by this point, which will be necessary to learn basic skills needed in primary school. Where he is in learning these skills is something you and his teachers should discuss as much as you can.

There is also an adjustment to be made to the demands of more structured learning, and this could be an issue as well. How much and what type of preschool did he attend?

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