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Problems with a 4 year old

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Joined: 20 Feb 2012
Posts: 1
Location: Madrid

PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:25 pm    Post subject: Problems with a 4 year old Reply with quote

So, I have private classes with 6 year old, and then with his 4 year old brother. The 6 year old is pretty good, motivated, and he listens. His little brother is a maniac. I understand that the attention span for this age is about 5 minutes per activity, but this boy seems to have a 30-45 second threshold. I can generally keep him into a book for 5 minutes, but end up repeating the same books. Activities last 1 or 2 minutes on average.

Inevitably he gets bored or distracted and has learned that if he just ignores me he doesn't have to do anything. Some days are fine, I manage to keep him busy, but some days he just crawls under the desk and starts going through his brother stuff, or runs out of the room.

I am running out of ideas and patience. It is only for 30 minutes at a time, but is three times a week and without other children around to advance the class I am finding it very difficult.

Any ideas or suggestions?
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Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1377
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My son is doing speech therapy with a six year-old who sounds the same way. He's been using stickers as rewards, and so many stickers gets a prize. Don't know if that would help or not.
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stickers are a great idea. Also lots of toys. You can play cars, building blocks, lots and lots of games, table and active, singing games, card games, and just keep talking and naming things. There are ton of ideas for preschoolers on the preschoolers thread here at Dave's. If there are two of you, you can play anything you could play in the class. If he goes under the desk, take along a sheet and make a fort with flashlight and point at things to name them - he should have a flashlight too. Lots of plastic toys - animals, fruit, transportation. You can borrow the toys from a friend or if you have a toy library or get them really cheap at the dollar store, and the thrift stores and then sell them when he is finished with them or keep them for the next round. My four year old loved the cereal sand box with pouring toys. I imagine the six year old would like most of them too especially easy games they can play together after class - Twister, Mr. Potato Head, Snakes and Ladders, large piece puzzles, Snap with cards, Memory. You can get alphabet cards, animal cards, etc. You can paint to learn the colours. Don't forget window paints. Have you visited the site?

You can also ask the Mom to stay and that makes three people to play and encourage him to concentrate and will give her ideas of what to do for followup. Lots of high fives when he does something.
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Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sally had great ideas.
Also, 4yo is too young to sit at a desk. Could he? Maybe. Should he? No.

Make a predictable routine for your classes. That could mean story, movement activity, then free play together. Movement activities can be Simon Says, clapping games, head shoulders knees and toes, finger games, string games, a dance--anything that requires some listening and some following of verbal directions but no sitting still. Stories can be read, but if he's not into books then make it a puppet show or act out an oral story instead. Repeat stories over a few different sessions. Act them out together. Draw pictures about the stories. Free play together means following his lead and commenting/questioning about everything he's interested in. Modeling like that is really helpful at age four.

It also might be really motivating to have your free play outside, regardless of the weather--in proper clothing for the weather, of course. It sounds like your student may be struggling to develop proprioceptive skills and auditory processing skills. Both of these can best be developed when outside and in natural surroundings. He will be better able to focus and sit still if he works on these sensory skills first, outdoors.
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Joined: 10 Feb 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Togo, West Africa

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:34 pm    Post subject: challenging 4 year old Reply with quote

I have a class of six 4 - 5 year olds actually all are now 5 (I think) at an international school in French speaking West Africa. Crap school btw.

Two children had very limited English and one had none when we started in September.

The programme I m using is state standard for California, intended for children twelve months older (cos the crap school doesn t know what age kindergarten is) and intended for children for whom English is a first language.

To say I ve had a lot of testing, challenging behavior much of it down to attempting to use inappropriate teaching materials is an understatement.

I ve found the following useful:

stop trying to get the children on task, sit back, relax, pay attention to them and pretty soon the child will orientate back to the adult.

Keep activities short and varied - little bursts of 5 or 10 minutes.

use stickers or a similar reward scheme

immediately give lavish praise when they're doing what you want

Try and be patient and see the world from a 4 year olds perspective. They experience life as a continual present, time has little meaning to them.

Songs are really good with this age group for building oral vocabulary

In my experience 4 year olds are quite capable of a desk based activity for 20 mins. The key is building a good relationship with them. I run another class elsewhere in the same school, 20 mins English twice a week. We have three small boys who when I started the class in September were a handful. I set strict limits on their behavior for example making them sit in the corner the minute they mess about coupled with lots of praise when they do what I want. One of them has a talent for languages and I made the point of getting him to demonstrate to his father (whose a thug) what he'd learned.
Those three are now eating out of my hand.
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