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 eating 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 a tutor.
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.