NWI Parent

“Needs to stay focused”

November 17th, 2010 - By Julia Huisman

Isabella recently brought home her first report card of the year. (She’s in second grade now.) Her grades were great; I was pleased. There’s also a section on the card where the teacher can highlight pros and cons about the student. Isabella’s “pro” was that she “completes her assignments on time.” Um, okay. So now kids get special recognition for doing what they’re supposed to do? Maybe that’s the only good thing the teacher could think to point out about Isabella. Or maybe the rest of the students in the class turn their assignments in late and by comparison, Isabella excels in that area. Either scenario makes me sad.

In the “cons” section, the teacher highlighted “Needs to stay focused.” I was actually relieved to see this, because it proved that it wasn’t just at home where Isabella goes off into la-la land. And it also brought back memories. I remember way back when Isabella was in preschool and her teachers told me she gets easily distracted. I was devastated at the time. I thought they were insulting my daughter and therefore me. But now it doesn’t bug me at all. It’s just the way Isabella is. It’s an everyday occurrence for her to have conversations with multiple imaginary friends, and to be so engrossed in those conversations that a hurricane wouldn’t even shake her. She makes up songs, words, worlds. She changes subjects mid-sentence, which makes perfect sense to her but leaves the rest of us feeling bewildered and also kind of in awe.

So here’s my question: how does one make a creative kid more “focused?” How do I correct this “problem” that her teachers keep pointing out? I know better than anyone how frustrating it is to corral such an imaginative child, but it’s not like she’s being that way because she’s not disciplined. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) She’s just a dreamer. And who am I to take that away from her?

I did have a long conversation with Isabella about her teacher’s concerns. I encouraged her to try very hard to keep her mind on the task at hand and to use recess and free time for playing. I gave her examples of times at home when she was distracted and how that made things difficult for me. And she’s gotten a little better, at home anyway. So I’m not sure what more I can do to. Ultimately it’s up to her to find that balance between dream world and reality. I just hope she doesn’t leave dream world altogether, because it’s what’s made her the wonderful visionary she is.

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