You send your children to school expecting that they will
return with their brains full of new material and a zest for learning. While
many children thrive at school, what happens if your child returns home, but
they have a note from their teacher stating that they were being disruptive or
distracted in class, instead?
Children who are having trouble focusing in school may tell
you themselves, or it may become clear through communications with the teacher,
classroom disruptions or poor school performance.
While many parents faced with this issue are quick to assume
that their child’s concentration problems stem from attention deficit disorder
(ADD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there are many other plausible
causes for your child’s lack of concentration in school. These problems can be
easily identified and fixed if you know what to looks for.
While ADD and ADHD may still certainly be the cause, it’s
best to look for one of these issues first to see if you can alleviate the
problem at home.
1. They’re tired:Many young children aren’t able to
focus properly in school because they are not getting adequate amounts of sleep
each night. Most elementary school-aged children need around 10 hours of sleep
per night, which is much more than adults. Be sure to enact and enforce a
bedtime for your children so they are well-rested for the morning.
2. They eat a poor
diet—or don’t eat enough:The
food your child eats might be causing them to experience brain fog, a common
feeling of sluggishness and the inability to concentrate due to highly
processed, sugary foods. Make sure your child is getting numerous
well-balanced, nutritious meals each day. Additionally, make sure your child is
easting a healthy breakfast. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of
the day because it gives your child the nutrients their body needs to function
all day long. Plus, being hungry in the middle of the day is enough to make
anyone feel distracted.
3. They’re dehydrated:Is your child drinking enough water
throughout the day? If not, dehydration might play a role in their
concentration issues. Their bodies need a constant stream of water to replenish
what is lost through sweat and urine. Dehydration can cause feelings of fatigue
and brain fog in children (and adults!). Send your child to school with a water
bottle that helps them keep track of their water and encourage them to drink a
certain number of cups per day.
4. They’re stressed:School can be a very demanding time for
your child. Between full days in the classroom, after-school activities, sports
and homework, your child might be feeling the pressure. And, much like in
adults (and sometimes worse), children can begin to suffer the consequences of
extreme stress by experiencing fatigue, irritability, lack of focus and more.
To help your child alleviate
the stress that is causing them concentration troubles, aim to implement
wind-down and hobby times when they return from school and focus on doing fun
and relaxing things to give them a mental break.
5. They have vision
problems:Another common cause of
distraction and poor performance in school might actually surprise some
parents: vision problems. If your child has a vision impairment, such as near-
or far-sightedness, they may not be able to read the board or their classwork.
A lot of children who develop vision problems at a young age don’t understand
that it’s a problem that can be fixed, and thus neglect to tell their parents.
If your child is also getting headaches and squinting while reading, a visit to
an optometrist may be in order.
6. They’re confused:We can all attest to the fact that
sometimes, when things get too tough or confusing, it’s much easier to check
out than to try to keep up. Many children who appear distracted in the
classroom are actually having problems keeping up with the material and space
out because they’re already behind. Speak with your child’s teacher about how
you can bring your child back up to speed. There might be some additional
information the teacher could pass along, or your child might need the help of
Addressing each of these things is very important in helping
your child get to school each day ready to learn and stay on top of their
schoolwork. However, if the problem does not appear to be resolved after
working through this list, you may need to consult your child’s pediatrician to
discuss the possibility of learning disorders and other conditions like ADD.