As adults we know how important focus and concentration are when we’re working on a project. They are equally important for our children in their academic life. Being able to focus doesn’t always come naturally to children. Luckily, this is a skill that can be taught and practiced. How can we help children develop these essential skills? And how can they practice them at home?
It can be difficult to get children to focus on homework after they have spent hours in a classroom. There’s always something that prevents them from just sitting down and getting the work done. Many children are unable to give a task their full attention for more than a few minutes at a time, if at all. It’s normal for children to be filled with energy and curious about everything that’s happening around them; but being able to maintain a level of concentration for a period of time is essential to them being successful academically.
Following are strategies you can use to help strengthen your child’s focus and concentration as they complete their homework:
- Set up a dedicated study area. Make sure your child does all homework and studying in the same place. The area should be comfortable, well-lit, and free from distractions.
- Schedule homework time. Have your child complete homework at the same time each day. Repetition makes a task a habit. Your child will slip into ‘focus mode’ more easily when homework time is routine.
- Remove cell phones. Text messages and social media are strong temptations. Keep cell phones out of sight until homework time is over.
- Have a set time for completion of a task. We all work better when we know how much time we have to complete an assignment. Let your child know how long they have for each task. Use a timer so that they can keep track. Encourage them to stop when the time is up. You child can always go back to the task after a brief break. Deep concentration is most productive over short periods of time.
- Set up a game plan. Help your child to identify and prioritize homework assignments. Determine the order in which they will be completed.
- Limit clutter. Encourage your child not to empty his or her backpack in the study area. The only books that should be out are the ones that are being used at that moment. When that assignment has been completed, have your child put the book away and then take out the next assignment.
- Do one thing at a time. Multitasking reduces concentration. Divide assignments or study topics into micro tasks. This can mean completing all homework for one subject before moving onto another or answering one question completely before moving onto the next.
- Take a break. Have your child take a break between tasks. Encourage him or her to drink some water or walk around briefly. A short break between tasks helps children to refocus and approach the next assignment with a fresh outlook.
As with everything else building focus and concentration takes practice. The more your child works on these strategies the easier the homework process will become.