Focus: The Big Challenge in Kindergarten (page 2)

Focus: The Big Challenge in Kindergarten

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Updated on Apr 17, 2014

Throughout the fall, almost all kindergarteners settle right down. But if it’s late December and your child still seems to be bouncing off the walls at school and at home, you and your teacher will want to work together to understand what’s up. Since it’s all over the media, you may also hear about Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Beware, however, jumping to conclusions. Andrew Adesman, Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Schneider Children’s Hospital in New Hyde Park, New York, warns that “one would not want to rush to judgment. There are many very active—even hyperactive—preschool children who settle right down as they move into elementary school.”

What should you look for? The three “cardinal features” of attention disorders, says Adesman, are hyperactivity, Impulsivity, and distractibility. Some children with ADHD may display all three traits, while others may only be hyperactive and impulsive. Still other children (often just designated “ADD”), are just intensely distractible. In any case, Adesman explains, the disorder can only be diagnosed properly by professionals who must also rule out other possible causes. “Diagnosis of ADHD is most reliable when at least two different teachers over two years have expressed significant concerns.” In other words, even if your child may later turn out to have an attention disorder, what’s important at this stage is to try plenty of what Adesman calls “first line interventions,” or what Rice would call “practical tips.”

So, got that egg timer? Don’t hesitate to give it a try. Adesman adds that it’s also fair game to use positive “behavioral reinforcements” like stickers or stars. And always be sure to observe your child carefully. Chances are, you’ll see big improvements, but if you don’t, you’ll also have invaluable data if you pursue further steps. It may take some time, but it’s worth the wait. After all, for the vast majority of kids, kindergarten will turn out to be one of the best school years ever.

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