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Parent and teacher must work together to help struggling first-grader


I have a 6-year-old son who started first grade a month ago. His teacher tells me that he is having difficulty staying focused. He gets distracted easily – more often than his classmates. 

This seems to be a pattern similar to the beginning of kindergarten. He would sometimes become physical with other children, but gradually his behavior improved. His teacher says he behaves, but there are instances when he refuses to do what she tells him. I am upset that his teacher has told me that my son is very immature and acts like a 2- or 3-year-old. Thus, I don’t trust her advice. 

I had him tested for ADHD when he was 4, and the results were negative. Should I have him retested? In addition to having trouble paying attention, my son has very messy penmanship. I am not certain if he is unable to form his letters or if he is simply not interested in doing so. He is smart. He is already learning to read, for instance. I need some advice.



It is ​important that you and your son’s teacher work together to ensure his success. When you work together, you increase your son’s chances of succeeding because you are presenting a united front. You need to both be working on the same plan, and consistency is important.  

It is age-appropriate that your son’s writing is messy. This is especially true at the beginning of the academic year. You will see gradual improvement in his writing skills over the course of the year.  

You mention that your son is struggling behaviorally at school. This could be due to any number of reasons. Perhaps he is picking up on his teacher’s frustration and is choosing to respond by acting out. Or perhaps he becomes frustrated when he has difficulty understanding an assignment.  

Rather than concentrating on why he is frustrated, work on developing more appropriate ways to express his feelings. Sit down with his teacher to discuss what is going on at school. Brainstorm ways to help him be more successful at home and school. Then work with your son at home on what is giving him trouble.  

Practice handwriting. Teach and then practice appropriate ways to express frustration. If he is having difficulty and is being mean or aggressive with his friends, have him practice good friendship skills like sharing, taking turns, etc.  Once he realizes that he can’t behave one way at school and a different way at home, he will understand the importance of following instructions from all authority figures.