My 4-year-old son was tested for ADD last year. He didn’t have it, and the people who conducted the test told us that our preschool sends many children who don’t need to be tested. This year, we’re being told he may not be ready for kindergarten. He needs to work on holding his pencil correctly, using scissors and following directions. He’s already sounding out words and can draw terrific pictures holding crayons the wrong way. I know he’s socially ready to move on. He likes to do things his way, but he doesn’t break rules. How do I get him to do the things that his teachers think he should be doing before kindergarten?
First, Faye, a few comments about ADD. There is no question that educators are on the alert for it and that they often want to apply the label to children who don’t warrant it. People have called ADD the “designer diagnosis” of the 21st century. I think that what happens is that sometimes very conscientious teachers find themselves puzzled when what they are doing doesn’t seem to work with a given child, and they grab at a possible cause to explain the difficulties. Don’t be too hard on them, as they are just trying to do a good job and want to cover all bases in their attempts to provide a good learning environment.
After making those complimentary remarks about his teachers and the preschool he attends, I have to comment that they appear to be pushing and rushing him. Educators seem to think that they have to teach children during the year before kindergarten things they can learn more comfortably in kindergarten. Since he can draw impressive pictures holding the crayons his own way, I think I’d compliment a drawing he makes at home and say, “You know, there’s more than one way to hold crayons. Most people hold them this way (demonstrate), and your teacher thinks you should hold them that way.” If he protests, say something like, “Why don’t you practice holding them the other way so you can do it at school? Then when you colour at home you can hold them whichever way you like.” Ditto with scissors.
In regard to following directions, observe in his classroom and notice how many things his teacher includes in directions. For example, does she say things like, “Now children, we’re going to put away our crayons (1) and then line up to go to the bathroom (2)”? She’s asking two things of the children. So, give the same type of directions at home: “Put your toys away (1) and put your coat on to go outside (2).” Gradually add another task to the directions and praise him when he pays enough attention to get it right.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.