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I write about a happy, bright 8 yo boy who enjoys reading and learning but sometimes has difficulty focusing on the task at hand. In school, it can take him a long time to complete his work because he is easily distracted by friends and material objects, such as math manipulatives. During class, he often moves around talking to others or humming to himself. Once distracted, teachers find it difficult to redirected to join in the class activities. Some similar distractibility is seen at home from time to time, but at other times he can concentrate for long periods of time (30+ minutes) reading or following detailed printed instructions to assemble Lego sets. He greatly enjoys physical tasks and can stick with them (e.g., he can do pogo stick or stilts more than 500 jumps or steps).

His teachers are not happy with his lack of attention.

My question is, do kids out grow this? (For example, what percent of kids show this type of distractability and what percent of adults?) If distractable kids become distractable adults, is there a recommended method to help address the problem.

  • I was going to answer, giving stats on ADHD, but realized you're not asking about ADHD, you're asking about distractibility. Unfortunately, there's no specific criteria or diagnosis for distractibility, so good studies would be much harder to find. – anongoodnurse Oct 16 '18 at 16:12
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He sounds to me like a normal healthy 8 year old boy that is bored by school.

Had he been tested academically?

My wife had similar issues with our homeschooled 8 yo son recently in math. Then one day he accidentally did a math placement test instead of his online assignment, thinking it was a math game,. He was able to complete the math up 6th grade, even though he had to work out principles of fractions on his own. Solution: have him work at his academic level, not age mandated level..

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Based on the information you provided, your son "might" have ADD. My son (ADhD) and I (undiagnosed) have similar "issues". Easily distracted, less focus on things we "have" to do, hyperfocused on things we "want" to do. Have we outgrown it? Yes, and no. My son, now an adult in his 30's, seems to have outgrown it. I feel like I taught myself how to "deal with it".

If I had to pick one thing that made a difference for both of us: exercise. Find something that will just flat out exhaust him. I had my son in TBall, Basketball, Soccer, and Scouting! If one sports season ended, I signed him up for something else. Children don't play like they used to. I walked to school, now parents drop the kids off at the front door (for valid reasons). When I was a kid, recess and art offered brain breaks. Now those things are being eliminated from curriculums. We need those things to be healthy.

Teachers: I found that my son's teachers wanted the entire class to sit at their desks, be quiet, and pay attention. That makes their jobs easier. And honestly, if your son is going in a different direction than the Teacher, he might just be bored with the material. If he can follow detailed diagrams -- maybe 1x1 is a little too easy. (Just an example, I don't know what he's studying.) Consider his homework assignments, is he having trouble with it or dismissing it because he knows it already? Can he read and comprehend what he's read, or is he struggling? If everything is easy, maybe he should skip a grade(?). If he's having difficulties, perhaps a little one-on-one time explaining the lesson.

I would determine if he is in the correct class level first. After you address that, increase his exercise for a few weeks. Let his Teachers know what you are trying. Make sure they know that you appreciate their input and that you want to know about any changes they notice while you try this route. They will be a lot more cooperative if they know you are taking them seriously.

If nothing seems to resolve the "issue", ask your Pediatrician about testing him for ADD. There is an upside and a downside to this. The upside is: the school HAS to help him with IEP plans and 504's (whatever modifications he needs). The downside: Personally, I think Teachers rush to get the kids medicated. It makes their jobs easier but I'm not convinced that it's always the best thing for the kids.

I wish I could offer the comfort of statistics for you, but I don't know of any. I hope that you will take comfort in knowing that most kids with your son's "issues" are absolutely brilliant in their own rights. I know, I'm one of them. ;) -el

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    I would be extremely wary of having a child skip a grade unless they are among the oldest in their current classroom. I was a five-year-old first grader who skipped second and was later a twelve-year-old high school freshman. I was still bored in class, but socially far behind my classmates. – kevin cline Oct 12 '18 at 9:19
  • Since ADHD is anything from a means for teachers to stigmatize simple boredom to any of several possibly unrelated metabolic and/or structural differences in the brain, medication may or may not be necessary, and will not always work the same way on all people. Like glasses, if medication is not necessary, or the wrong prescription is made, it's usually counterproductive. – pojo-guy Oct 15 '18 at 22:07
  • You might want to consider homeschool. Whilst he will miss out socially, he will probably progress better if you let him work in ways that work best for him, and as @pojo-guy at his own level. My 7year old knew no times tables at all when in school but is now doing complicated fractions and areas without blinking. – bigbadmouse Oct 21 at 11:31

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