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Avatar universal

4 Year old won't listen/focus in Pre-K

My 4 year old son is in Pre-K and he is getting in trouble (on yellow/red) daily because he won't settle down.  He doesn't listen to the teachers when they tell him that it's time to stop playing, or that it's time to get in line.  He has to sit on the outside of the circle at a table during circle time because he will distract the other kids by either talking or he'll start flipping or just playing around.  He doesn't finish his assignments because he's too busy touching something else or trying to talk to someone else.  He is very smart and has a great memory, so he can recite the contents of a book, the day's lessons and many facts that you wouldn't expect him to remember.  He's also very articulate, but for some reason he is not getting it when he's told to settle down, or sit down, or do a specific task within a certain amount of time.  At home he is the same.  At dinner he will get up a million times, stand on the chair or just start playing with the food.  I give him work daily and he will write numbers and letters backwards because he doesn't focus on what he has to do.  He will call his baby sister to play so that he can distract himself when he has to do homework.  He just won't settle down and we have tried everything... a reward system, taking away toys, no tv during the week, no ipad, no grandma's house... you name it, we've tried it and he is only getting work.  He is usually the only one in the class on yellow or he's one of 2.  The teacher says she gives him chance after chance before putting him on "yellow".  I am very worried about him.  I know he has the ability to focus because he eventually does his homework perfectly with no one in the room and with no assistance.   However, he does not think outside the box.  If he has to color, he does it with a lot of mess (outside the lines) and with no creativity, and it's not because he can't do better, but he wants to do whatever allows him to resume playing more quickly.  Any advice is welcome!  Thanks!
9 Responses
13167 tn?1327194124
He sounds like a lot of boys at that age.  Sitting in a desk doing very boring work isn't natural,  or age-appropriate for them,  but most boys are able to doit anyway.  

He sounds very bright.  Do you have the resources to send him to a school that might be more adapted to his needs,  like Montessori (if they still follow the same philosophy,  I don't know).  

We used to joke in my house that we are amazed how many kids have "attention surplus disorder".  That is,  they are willing to sit for very long times doing boring,  completely meaningless work.  

A lot of kids write their names and numbers backwards.  If you look at takehome work from a kindergarten class,  you have to be adept at reading their names in perfect mirror image.  Amazing talent,  really,  as adults we'd have a hard time doing it.

189897 tn?1441126518
   I do agree with a lot of what RockRose has said.  However, if he is the only boy in the class of 4 year old boys who really stands out - then he might not be the typical boy.
  In terms of being able to focus - what you described is really not a good test.  If he is smart, he probably can finish his homework very quickly when he decides to.  Also being the CL over on the ADHD forum   http://www.medhelp.org/forums/ADD---ADHD/show/175
   I do know that kids with ADHD can focus if they are interested in something (like a video game for example).  I am not saying that he has ADHD, but since this does seem to appear both at home and at school, it probably is worth looking into.  This link should prove helpful - http://helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/attention-deficit-disorder-adhd-in-children.htm
   And, even if he does not have ADHD, the techniques used to help a child with ADHD focus and follow rules, etc. would be quite useful.
   I hope this helps.  If you have any questions please post here or on the other site I linked to above.
189897 tn?1441126518
   Oh, the one thing that you did not mention is when is birthday is.  If he is the youngest boy in his class, that would explain some of the problems.  
973741 tn?1342342773
Hi there.  So sorry to hear you are having such difficulties with your son.  That is always unsettling for a parent.  I agree with both rockrose and sandman.  I DO pay attention if it is just my child who had difficulties with whatever the rest of the class was doing and tried to gage what feel within normal and what was outside of normal.  My son was subtly and not so subtly outside of the normal range often in the preschool years.  He has something called sensory integration disorder which involves his nervous system.  Staying on task, paying attention, sitting still?  No way.  So, needless to say, preschool was tough for him.

When he was the year before kindergarten and 4 years old, I was so very worried about his needing to be exposed to what school (kindergarten was like) and wanted him to go to a broader preschool class that was longer and 4 days a week.  I received wonderful advise from our doctor and the preschool director--  who were against that.  They said that this time was critical for his COMFORT level.  School at that age is not rocket science and should not be drudgery or a place where a child feels bad about themselves or out of place or 'in trouble' all the time.  

So, he  went to 'fun' preschool for two half days a week at 4.5/5 years before his first year of half day kindergarten.

Guess what?  He's in sixth grade and a champ at school.  The kid has blown right past his classmates academically (lots of parents say that . . .  but I SWEAR it is true!), maintains himself fine in class and that year of having a more 'fun' experience in preschool rather than strict pre K mattered not to his success.  Instead, I worked on confidence, liking himself, not hating school and being an enthusiastic learner, etc.  

So, maybe this preschool is not a right fit.  Is it worth it?  I pretty much swear that all of this early education is fine and all but really does not change the IQ of a child or where they end up after a couple of years in school where some kids slow down and some speed up and most end up at average by the end of second grade.  

Have fun with your child.  THAT is what these years are for.  good luck
Avatar universal
Thanks for the replies!  RockRose, I have looked into the Montessori system but I worried that I would essentially set him up for failure because I fear that if given the freedom he would chose to play and try to distract others instead of working.
Avatar universal
Thanks for the reply!  His teacher says that he is so smart that sometimes she throws a difficult question at him to see whether he will get it and he hits it every time.  He also has a tremendous memory and he is very analytical.  I am amazed at the types of questions he asks sometimes because they are well thought out and he has a rebuttal lined up for your answer.  So that's why it's so frustrating that he doesn't get that he has to settle down when it's required.  Over the weekend we decided to talk to him constantly in a calm manner and ask him why he does the things that he does.  The teacher also told us about his bad behavior in front of him so that he knows where we are getting our information, and for the first time he seemed to care.  Like most parents, I don't want to necessarily seek a diagnosis for ADHD etc, but I also don't want to ignore any potential signs.  
Avatar universal
Thanks for the advice.  Interestingly, when he's in Sunday School he is a gem because he doesn't know anyone in the class. Additionally, when he first started this school (recently), he was well behaved initially.  Also, throughout his time in preschool, each time that he switched classes or moved up, he was always extremely well behaved.  Once he gets comfortable and learns just how far a teacher will go to punish him, that's when he starts acting up and then it's down hill from there (started when he turned 2).  So, I don't know whether he trying to outsmart people or is he having a genuine issue that is hindering his ability to focus.  
189897 tn?1441126518
   You forgot to mention when his birthday is :)
Avatar universal
Hi. I came across this feed. My son will be 4 in a couple of months and we are experiencing similar behaviors. I am curious to know what worked with your son and how he is doing now.
I agree we would all be curious to know how things have turned out.  But, this is a pretty old post.  EJ if you would like our opinions, you might give us some more infor.  Like is your son in a preschool or child care situation?  If so, what do the teachers think in comparing him to other kids of his age?
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189897 tn?1441126518
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