How to help a child focus

With lots of parents suddenly in home schooling roles to limit the spread of coronavirus, tensions might be running high.

You want to support your child’s education as best you can, but you might find it’s hard to keep them on task with their school work.

We’ve put together a handy guide for how to help a child focus on the task at hand and make the learning process fun.

two siblings focusing on their school work at home

Start with some exercise

Moving the body and getting the heart pumping helps to motivate the brain. Start the school day at home with a workout, whether that’s doing the popular Joe Wicks workout or having a run around the garden. Get moving and burn some energy before sitting down to work.

Turn off all screens

If a screen is on, it will draw attention from you and your child. Make sure the TV is off, your mobile phone is out of the way and computers, laptops or tablets are only available for researching the project.

Try and be clutter free

Having lots of clutter in your space can be incredibly distracting. Keep the work space organised and only have to hand the items you’ll need for the day’s tasks. You could prepare your space the night before once your child is in bed to make the following morning much less stressful.

Write out your tasks

Letting kids know what they’ve got to achieve in the day goes a long way to helping keep them focused. Include them in the to-do list writing process and let them tick off completed activities so they can see how well they’re doing.

mother with her two children looking at a tablet

Set a timer

If children can see a timer and know that they’ve only got to work on a project for a set amount of time, it can help them focus their attention. They know that there is a clear end point so it’s easier for them to keep going.

Ask questions

When you ask questions, you’re encouraging your child to think and consider their answer. Having to take time to reply helps keep them focused and actively engages them in their work.

A little praise goes a long way

You can often encourage your kids to focus a little longer with some well timed praise. Because you’ve acknowledged how well they’re doing, you might find they can keep going for longer before succumbing to distraction.

Provide focus foods

Foods high in sugar might be good for treats, but they’re bad for helping focus. Instead, feed your child a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, protein and fibre. Make sure they have a good breakfast to give them the energy they need to have a successful, happy day.

siblings colouring together on the floor

mother and daughter using a laptop to research how to help a child focus

Only do one thing at a time

It might seem obvious, but only ask your kids to focus on one thing at a time. Attempting to multi-task will inevitably result in distracted learning. Let them handle activities in isolation from each other – you can always show how things have been connected later.

Plan in breaks

Children don’t work all day at school. There are lots of breaks built into the day and activities are incredibly varied. Make sure to take a rest from an activity every twenty minutes or so to allow the child to have some unfocused time. This will make getting back to work much easier.

Tailor activities to your children

Different children are excited by different activities, and as their parent you know best what is likely to hold their attention. If you can shape tasks around things they enjoy, they’ll be much less likely to get distracted and will focus for longer.

What works for you?

We’ve found these techniques for helping children concentrate very useful with our own parenting over the past few weeks. If you have any of your own tips for how to help a child focus, let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

boys focusing on school work at home

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