Jan 5, 2010 by Bill Jenkins, Ph.D.

As educators, we see students come through schools every day with any number of challenges—emotional, psychiatric and physical problems of all kinds. On that continuum, attention issues—even more so than depression, anxiety or disruptive behavior—appear to be more important to later success than previously thought.

A recent study led by Joshua Breslau at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, has shown that children with attention problems in kindergarten often end up having academic problems right on up through high school. They found that these kinds of problems, such as ADHD, had the greatest potential to impact a child’s future academic performance.

"The evidence suggests…that kids with attention problems don’t learn as much," said Breslau. "This starts very early for many children and is cumulative."

How can we best help students with ADHD or other attention problems and ensure their success? In kindergarten and first graders, it takes looking for problems in following directions, controlling impulses and following through on tasks and projects. Once the problem is identified, parents as well as teachers must be engaged in the intervention process as early as possible to make sure that the child’s needs are met so they can get on track for a successful future.