Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Homeschooling Moms Homeschooling Moms

How to deal with a child who won't concentrate?

Posted by   + Show Post

I have a very sensitive child, 7, who can concentrate and work on her assignments, some days. Then, other days, she's very flighty and won't work on anything for more than a few seconds before messing around and wandering off, sometimes literally.

How would you handle this? Because I'm getting very frustrated with her. I was having her work on her writing (our school day is very simple, math, writing and reading, in that order) and she would start the assignment, then just turn it into a doodle. She also only got through half of her math (two pages of Math Mammoth first grade) before she started working on some art project she came up with, which she spent the last hour working on. I sent her outside to play and told her that she wasn't going to be playing any computer games (my kids are really in to Minecraft, that's all she plays) until she'd finished her school work. So, then she was wandering around outside crying because she wasn't going to be allowed to work on her ponies on minecraft today.

by on Jan. 28, 2014 at 7:09 PM
Replies (11-20):
Jilectan
by Member on Jan. 29, 2014 at 4:31 PM

I know about the attention span thing, so her school work doesn't take that long. She was supposed to do 2 pages of subtraction, but it took her longer than normal, so I let her do something else before I tried to get her back on task to do her writing. Unfortunately, she's still not really reading, so she's practicing writing letters for her writing part and we're working on phonics for her reading. There are a lot of reading delayed people in her family (more on her fathers side than mine, but there are some on my side, too.) so I'm not too surprised by the delay.

Basically, what I have her do is work a little, then she can play with her sister, who's 4, then work on her school work a little more. It hasn't been working too well, lately, but just having her switch to the next activity doesn't always work very well, either. I've also tried letting her do art work or let her fool around on the keyboard before switching her to her next activity, with pretty much the same result.

Quoting ElaineJenkins:

Try breaking her activities into shorter chunks of time.  Younger children have a very short attention span, especially when learning something new.  When she starts to doodle/art tell her that she can work on it after she completes x # of math problems.  Then use the doodle/art project as a springboard for her writing.  By incorporating what she likes to do with what she needs to do wil help her to stay on task.


Jilectan
by Member on Jan. 29, 2014 at 4:33 PM

I'll give that shot. I actually read this yesterday and started tracking yesterday, I just didn't have time to reply. Thanks! Hopefully I'll spot something.

Quoting ablackdolphin:

My DD4 is like this.  Sometimes I have to get her input on what she wants to do.  It seems that when I give her choices she's better. 

Also, ever consider looking at her diet? Gluten, sugar, dyes, etc can sometimes do that to kids.  I just mention it because you said it's not always consistent.  Might be worth watching what she's eating or keeping a food diary to see if that is affecting her.

USmom: I do try to use Minecraft a bit as art, but unfortunately, due to her reading delay, it doesn't work well for writing yet. Maybe once she's reading and writing better.

Maggiemom: I saw a post about your system before, but I'm not sure how I'd implement it. We don't have a lot of space. 5 people in 850 sq ft. We try to go outside a lot. I'll have to look over that Minecraft homeschool thing. Later, though. We're just about to head out to park day.

Boohbah: I do that and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

SamMom912: I hadn't thought of that, I'll check it out. Thanks!

coala: I hadn't considered allergies. We don't have a lot of allergies in our family. IIRC, my mom is allergic to gooseberries. I'll look into that if nothing else does anything. I'm keeping a food diary for her, anyway.

KickButtMama: Yeah, my son did, too, but nothing like this. This is much worse.

Wow, who knew I'd get so many suggestions? Thanks, ladies! 

DyslexiaParent
by Member on Jan. 29, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Keep in mind that a child with a learning disability, like dyslexia--which she may have from what you've said--finds school work very exhausting mentally.  It takes a lot of focus to figure out the figures on the paper, to work with them, and hold all of the information in mind while working on the school work.  She will become mentally "drained" quicker than other kids.  Additionally, if she has a learning disability in reading, that is also going to significantly affect writing--Reading is decoding (recognition) whereas writing is encoding (requires a LOT more mental effort, especially after you get past this handwriting stage.) 

You might also find that since she likes the computer, maybe something like Reflex Math online for math and LexiaLearning.com for reading would help her stay more engaged with the learning programs. 

I don't know if that helps, but feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Quoting Jilectan:

I know about the attention span thing, so her school work doesn't take that long. She was supposed to do 2 pages of subtraction, but it took her longer than normal, so I let her do something else before I tried to get her back on task to do her writing. Unfortunately, she's still not really reading, so she's practicing writing letters for her writing part and we're working on phonics for her reading. There are a lot of reading delayed people in her family (more on her fathers side than mine, but there are some on my side, too.) so I'm not too surprised by the delay.

Basically, what I have her do is work a little, then she can play with her sister, who's 4, then work on her school work a little more. It hasn't been working too well, lately, but just having her switch to the next activity doesn't always work very well, either. I've also tried letting her do art work or let her fool around on the keyboard before switching her to her next activity, with pretty much the same result.

SandyKC
M.S. Instructional Design, Veteran Homeschooling Mom of "Light of My Life" Boys,
Special Education Advocate, Author, Academic Achievement Consultant


Jilectan
by Member on Jan. 30, 2014 at 2:42 PM

I've been a little worried about her reading delay and one of my worries is about dyslexia. She does fit a lot of what I've read are the symptoms. Unfortunately, I can't afford assessment and I can't take her to the local school district without her being enrolled, and I don't trust them. We're also short on money, right now, and I'm not sure we can afford something like Lexialearning, at the moment. In the mean time, I've been looking around and found a site with free resources and I was wondering how useful they actually are. Have you heard of a site called Beating Dyslexia? It's beatingdyslexia.com and they claim that everyone who works on it is dyslexic and it has a bunch of resources to work on dealing with dyslexia. I've been looking it over, and it looks good, but I really don't know a lot about it.

Quoting DyslexiaParent:

Keep in mind that a child with a learning disability, like dyslexia--which she may have from what you've said--finds school work very exhausting mentally.  It takes a lot of focus to figure out the figures on the paper, to work with them, and hold all of the information in mind while working on the school work.  She will become mentally "drained" quicker than other kids.  Additionally, if she has a learning disability in reading, that is also going to significantly affect writing--Reading is decoding (recognition) whereas writing is encoding (requires a LOT more mental effort, especially after you get past this handwriting stage.) 

You might also find that since she likes the computer, maybe something like Reflex Math online for math and LexiaLearning.com for reading would help her stay more engaged with the learning programs. 

I don't know if that helps, but feel free to ask questions if you have any.

Quoting Jilectan:

I know about the attention span thing, so her school work doesn't take that long. She was supposed to do 2 pages of subtraction, but it took her longer than normal, so I let her do something else before I tried to get her back on task to do her writing. Unfortunately, she's still not really reading, so she's practicing writing letters for her writing part and we're working on phonics for her reading. There are a lot of reading delayed people in her family (more on her fathers side than mine, but there are some on my side, too.) so I'm not too surprised by the delay.

Basically, what I have her do is work a little, then she can play with her sister, who's 4, then work on her school work a little more. It hasn't been working too well, lately, but just having her switch to the next activity doesn't always work very well, either. I've also tried letting her do art work or let her fool around on the keyboard before switching her to her next activity, with pretty much the same result.


DyslexiaParent
by Member on Feb. 3, 2014 at 9:44 AM


It looks like they have a lot of good, basic information about dyslexia.. what it is, why people with dyslexia have difficulty, etc., but I don't think it's comprehensive enough with the program information to really enable a person to start from scratch and teach their child to read and spell well if the child has clinically diagnosable dyslexia.

To overcome diagnosable dyslexia (the learning disability) you need a two-fold approach of direct instruction in each and every phoneme (a phonics-based approach) and reinforcement with a computer-based practice program that will allow your DD to practice each phoneme to the point of mastery.  Check out the Online, Interactive reading programs listed here.. the first several are free and they'd be good for practice if you can't afford, or until you can afford, Lexia.  

You need programs that are multisensory--audio, visual, and active.. where apps on a practice tablet can be really good if they're based upon teaching phonemic awareness. Maybe one of the programs above or one of the apps below will help.  Check out these possible apps:

Hope that helps!

SandyKC
M.S. Instructional Design, Veteran Homeschooling Mom of "Light of My Life" Boys,
Special Education Advocate, Author, Academic Achievement Consultant


Jilectan
by Member on Feb. 3, 2014 at 6:29 PM
1 mom liked this

Thanks, I'll look those over. I have a couple of Android tablets, so I can check out those Android apps, too.

Quoting DyslexiaParent:


It looks like they have a lot of good, basic information about dyslexia.. what it is, why people with dyslexia have difficulty, etc., but I don't think it's comprehensive enough with the program information to really enable a person to start from scratch and teach their child to read and spell well if the child has clinically diagnosable dyslexia.

To overcome diagnosable dyslexia (the learning disability) you need a two-fold approach of direct instruction in each and every phoneme (a phonics-based approach) and reinforcement with a computer-based practice program that will allow your DD to practice each phoneme to the point of mastery.  Check out the Online, Interactive reading programs listed here.. the first several are free and they'd be good for practice if you can't afford, or until you can afford, Lexia.  

You need programs that are multisensory--audio, visual, and active.. where apps on a practice tablet can be really good if they're based upon teaching phonemic awareness. Maybe one of the programs above or one of the apps below will help.  Check out these possible apps:

Hope that helps!


Jilectan
by Member on Feb. 12, 2014 at 6:43 AM

I have a couple of quick questions, if you don't mind?

First is this app that was I forgot I'd downloaded a little while back called Phonics and Reading with McGuffey, which uses the McGuffey Primer to teach reading. It's very audio visual and walks them through all the letters step by step, by sounds, and through sounding out the words. Have you heard of it? It's on Amazon.

My second question is on whether or not I should be insisting dd work with reading when she's fighting against doing the reading work as hard as she was today? I insisted she finish up the lesson she'd been working on Monday, which wasn't that much, really. If she doesn't have dyslexia, I'd say she's just being stubborn and doesn't want to put out the effort. Would you read it differently if she's dyslexic?

Quoting DyslexiaParent:


It looks like they have a lot of good, basic information about dyslexia.. what it is, why people with dyslexia have difficulty, etc., but I don't think it's comprehensive enough with the program information to really enable a person to start from scratch and teach their child to read and spell well if the child has clinically diagnosable dyslexia.

To overcome diagnosable dyslexia (the learning disability) you need a two-fold approach of direct instruction in each and every phoneme (a phonics-based approach) and reinforcement with a computer-based practice program that will allow your DD to practice each phoneme to the point of mastery.  Check out the Online, Interactive reading programs listed here.. the first several are free and they'd be good for practice if you can't afford, or until you can afford, Lexia.  

You need programs that are multisensory--audio, visual, and active.. where apps on a practice tablet can be really good if they're based upon teaching phonemic awareness. Maybe one of the programs above or one of the apps below will help.  Check out these possible apps:

Hope that helps!


Jinx-Troublex3
by Jinx on Feb. 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM
My DD would be diagnosed with adhd if she were in PS. She doesnt want to focus on amything hard and every little.tiny thing is a distraction amd gets her off task.

*rip my hair out*

Heidi...sit! Heidi..focus! Heidi..what SHOULD you be doing right now?

I try breaking things down into smaller "bites" and especially with math sometimes just have to be there to keep her on task.
Jilectan
by Member on Feb. 12, 2014 at 11:55 AM

That sounds like Kaley. Yesterday, it was literally, I told her she still needed to work on her phonics and the immediate reaction was "Do I have to? I don't want to! Can we just read the book?" Argh! She had only done her math--1 page of Math Mammoth, which she's not having any problems with, fortunately--and had a brief break.

She was just finishing a few letter sounds that were an end of lesson test, iirc it was 4 sounds, but she didn't want to do it because it "just kept going around and around". We don't do a lot of tests, btw, and this is always the reaction. I tried to give her a reading test once and she was doing pretty well, better than I'd expected, but she just plain didn't want to do it and there was nothing I could do to get her to concentrate and stay with it. She wound up reading off 5 words before I got frustrated and let her go because I couldn't get her to try any more.

Quoting Jinx-Troublex3: My DD would be diagnosed with adhd if she were in PS. She doesnt want to focus on amything hard and every little.tiny thing is a distraction amd gets her off task.

*rip my hair out*

Heidi...sit! Heidi..focus! Heidi..what SHOULD you be doing right now?

I try breaking things down into smaller "bites" and especially with math sometimes just have to be there to keep her on task.


DyslexiaParent
by Member on Feb. 14, 2014 at 5:02 PM


Quoting Jilectan:

I have a couple of quick questions, if you don't mind?

First is this app that was I forgot I'd downloaded a little while back called Phonics and Reading with McGuffey, which uses the McGuffey Primer to teach reading. It's very audio visual and walks them through all the letters step by step, by sounds, and through sounding out the words. Have you heard of it? It's on Amazon.

My second question is on whether or not I should be insisting dd work with reading when she's fighting against doing the reading work as hard as she was today? I insisted she finish up the lesson she'd been working on Monday, which wasn't that much, really. If she doesn't have dyslexia, I'd say she's just being stubborn and doesn't want to put out the effort. Would you read it differently if she's dyslexic?


I haven't heard of that app at all.  It sounds like a decent app in the description, but without seeing it, it'd be difficult to give an opinion.  When teaching, does the app teach the letter names at all, or is it solely focused on the associated sounds for the letters?  It makes a difference to a child with dyslexia -- for example, the letter "b" is called "bee", but the sound it represents is more of a "buh" (very short).  Teaching the names of letters intermingled with the sounds of letters often complicates the issue for children with true dyslexia.

The biggest question I would want to answer for myself was, WHY is she fighting so hard against doing the reading work?  Seldom is it outright stubbornness or defiance.  Most kids WANT to know how to read and they want to please their parents, so when a child starts refusing to do the work, has tantrums, says it's "boring", etc., the child is usually indicating that the lessons are not working for her.  A child doesn't know how to evaluate a lesson or her own learning abilities (neurologically speaking), so a child has no words for telling you the reason she's having issues with the particular program.

Also, nobody can look at a child and tell for sure if she has dyslexia, doesn't have it, has a perception or neurological processing problem, or what is going on between her ears as she's trying to learn.  Therefore, it's really difficult to say what you "should" do or what I would do based  upon your DD's outward difficulties with the reading lessons. 

How much evaluation has your DD had?  Has she been assessed for difficulties with perception, processing speed, developmental vision issues, phonemic awareness, short-term working memory, etc.?  There is just so much that can be a cause for difficulties that it is really difficult to figure out what to do without knowing the underlying problems or issues.

Truly, when you are feeling frustrated and your child is feeling frustrated, sometimes the best thing to do is to get a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation to find out what the issues actually are.  Then, if you KNOW your child has issues with working memory, you can work on building that up.  If you know your child has issues with visual perception, you can work on correcting that.  IF she has true dyslexia, including the lack of phonemic awareness, processing issues, possible executive function deficits, etc., then you can work on that using the proper programs and be confident that "forcing" your child to work on her lessons will actually bring about the outcome you're looking for.

A few things to consider:

What data specific to your DD's needs are you working from to pick your DD's programs?

What will the long-term look like if you force your DD to work on the reading lessons and she makes no progress because it's the wrong program for her needs?

What would your school days look like if you had programs you knew were exact matches for your DD's needs?

It's HARD to figure out how to meet a child's needs when learning doesn't come easy!  I've been on that road and it took a lot of searching, and a couple of wrong turns before finding our fabulous neuropsychologist.  He pinpointed the actual issues my DS was facing, and that knowledge let me create a highly tailored program to meet my DS' needs.  He soared educationally from there forward! 

SandyKC
M.S. Instructional Design, Veteran Homeschooling Mom of "Light of My Life" Boys,
Author

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)