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Inattention in Kindergarten Could Mean Academic Problems in the Future

It's normal for children to have short attention spans, but when they interfere with schoolwork at an early age, it could mean academic trouble from elementary school through high school.  A study from the University of California-Davis's School of Medicine shows that attention problems in kindergarten can indicate academic performance in the future.

The study involves data collected by epidemiologist Naomi Breslau for research she did on children in the 1980s and 1990s. In this study, a team of researchers kept track of over 800 children from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in Detroit to examine the relationship between psychological development and low birth weight.  The researchers also obtained information from their teachers on behaviors like depression, attention problems, breaking rules, and acting out.  When compared to other common childhood developmental problems, the researchers discovered that inattention and other symptoms of ADHD have the largest impact on academic success.    Symptoms of ADHD usually manifest themselves during kindergarten and the early elementary school years, when school work demands more cognitive and learning skills.

These connections were made by Breslau's son, Joshua Breslau, in a paper that was published in the journal Pediatrics.  The study showed that students who do poorly in school due to attention issues may eventually lose motivation to do homework.  These discouraging experiences can snowball and lead to emotional problems or substance abuse.  

Of course, you can prevent this from happening to your child by seeking professional help and becoming more involved in your child's school life.  Set aside an hour each day to help your child with homework. It helps if you schedule homework hour at the same time every day so your child develops the discipline to do homework regularly.   Do homework in a quiet place, free from distractions and electronics; if your child concentrates better with background noise, try playing soft music.

Children with ADHD tend to lose interest in school because they don't find the subject matter worthy of their interest.  Try to find ways to make the lesson more exciting. For instance, when reviewing a chapter in a history textbook, tell the events like you would a story, to pique your child's interests. 

The effort involved in sustaining concentration can cause fatigue in a child with ADHD. If doing homework takes approximately an hour, give your child short breaks every 15 minutes to help him or her recharge. Don't forget to offer praise where praise is due!  Not only will this motivate your child and raise his or her self-esteem, but it's also a way of reinforcing desired behaviors.  Be specific with your compliments, e.g. "I like how you focused on this math problem until you solved it."  You can use small prizes like candy or extra TV time to motivate your child, too.