With the book not coming home - it is important to ensure that the book is the responsibility of the teacher and the parent, NOT the child. If the teacher gives the book to the child and asks them to put it in his bag, this still needs to be watched to make sure the book makes it - if the kid has trouble staying on task, the chances of the book not getting to the bag are too high and frankly, the book is too important to make it a responsibility of the child.
Unless there are legal reasons not to, the teacher should get the book from the bag in the morning and make sure the book goes back in the bag when she's finished with it. Same at home - don't ask the child to fetch the book, get it yourself.
it sounds like such a small thing, but it is very important, we found. The wheels fell off mostly, when the teacher wanted the child to take responsibility for it. But in terms of the child taking responsibility - he already was doing this for other possessions and in other areas. The book is not for the child, it is for the parent and the teacher.
"had a lot of trouble focussing today" - I get that. OK, it's waffly, but it's better than no communication. Sometimes it's hared to quantify this sort of problem, it's just a gut reaction with the kid either gazing into space or having trouble settling to task.
If you want more detail, then ask in the next post in the book - "Was he simply staring into space, or was he getting upset with himself for not being able to concentrate? Was it at the beginning of a work session, the middle or the end? Or all the way through? I'm trying to think of ways we can help him (and you) with this."
You can also ask, "Is he worse in the mornings? Or the afternoons?"
You don't want to make the book too much work for either of you, but simply knowing he wasn't on task can be useful. If he IS more on task some days, you can begin to see a pattern, when you see that maybe he's on t ask on Wednesdays but not on Fridays - you then ask the teacher what is the difference in her classroom between Wednesdays and Fridays. Sometimes it's as simple as the subject being taught. difficult child 3, for example, was great at English spelling and grammar but not as good with comprehension exercises. And when he was expected to write something - utter disaster! We found another way around the problem but by working together, teacher and parents used the patterns to identify problems more specifically. Waffle is still a good start with this.
There will be good days, there will be bad days. It happens. We can't always find a reason. Sometimes it's as simple as, he didn't like the cloudy sky that morning. Or he wanted to play a game at lunchtime but the bell went before he got a chance. Some days he will be more frustrated (and frustrating) than others.
if he's having trouble focussing, one medication-free trick you can use is to keep as little as possible between him and the teaching focus of the classroom - for example, in the old traditional style of classroom, you would have the child sitting on his own at a desk in the middle, up the front of the classroom.
Something that worked for difficult child 3 was to sit him where his desk faced a wall. He actually had two desks - one in the classroom, close to the teacher, so when the teacher was talking or working on the blackboard difficult child 3 was close with nothing between him and the teacher; and the second desk was on the classroom veranda, facing a blank wall. That way he wasn't distracted by movement flickering peripherally. He sat at his work desk to do worksheets, writing tasks etc. He had an aide sitting with him and could still swivel round and ask the teacher something if he needed to.
He also needed to be out of physical range of other students - this didn't always happen. Some kids would delight in poking him until he got angry with them, at which point it was difficult child 3 who got into trouble for being disruptive. YOu can't know if t his is happening, and it takes an attentive teacher to notice, although a fairly smart teacher will cotton on to this sort of thing. If you notice, via the book, a sudden, consistent deterioration, this is one possibility to look for.
Good luck with your choices. You've made a good start this year.