Rooting out the Cause of Z’s Concentration Issues. Hint: It’s probably not what you think.

The first grader has trouble concentrating, but fear not: he has solutions.  Observe:

Me: I notice you have trouble concentrating.  Your teacher tells me it’s hard to tell whether you’re getting the math because you’re so distracted.  What do you think we can do about that?

Z:  You could get me noise cancelling headphones.  I could put them on in class when I think I’m getting distracted.  You’d have to explain it to the teacher so she’d be okay with it.

Me: Yeah, I don’t…

Z:  Or maybe we could build a wall.  Right here, around my homework, so when I’m working on it I won’t be distracted by stuff.

Me:  A wall.

Z:  Yeah.  Right here.  A really big one.

Me:  I’m not going to build a wall in the middle of the dining room.

Z:  Why not?

Me:  Because we eat there.  Also, that wouldn’t help with the internal distractions.   You know,  inside your head.

Z:  Inside my head?

Me:  Like right now, for instance.  We’ve been sitting in front of your homework for twenty minutes.  There’s no noise or anything, but you’re still up and down and twitching and flipping your pencil around and petting the dog and looking everywhere but at what we’re doing.  That’s the concentration I’m talking about.

Z:  Oh that.

Me:  Yeah, that.

Z:  That’s because there’s a little man inside my head who’s reading books out loud all the time.

Me:  A little man.

Z:  Yeah, reading books.  It’s very distracting.  And then he leaves the books laying around everywhere, and it’s a real mess, and that’s distracting too.

Me:  Oh, well…

Z:  He’s reading one right now.

Me:  So, what’s the solution?

Z:  We tell him to pick up all those books.  Obviously.


I bet you didn’t see that explanation coming, did you, dear reader?  Yeah, me neither.