As parents, it’s our job to do the dirty work, and we don’t mean potty training. Instead, we are talking about helping our kids learn to focus, and that’s no easy task.
But we want to make it easier and a more straightforward process for you, and them, so we have created this list of 15 different ways to keep everyone focused on schoolwork to get the job done.
These tips and tricks aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and you may have to try out a few before you find the right recipe for your kiddos. But just like we tell our children, we can do hard things. We are confident that you’ll all find what works.
What Does Focus Mean?
Let’s start by defining focus; the more you understand what it is, the easier it will be to get it down. Focus is the ability to think about a task, set to work on it immediately, and get it done without issues like procrastination or unnecessary delays.
This can be hard for the kids as they are just learning the ideas of urgency and figuring out how to prioritize their needs versus their wants.
Focus, Not Concentration
This can be confused with the idea of concentration, but these are different functions of the brain.
Focus is being able to set yourself on a task efficiently and keep at it until it’s completed. On the other hand, concentration is the ability to retain your thinking and attention on a specific project or task. Focus allows you the motivation to get to the important activities, and concentration allows you the brain power to get it done.
15 Ways To Stay Focused
Getting those kids motivated to do their homework can be a real homework assignment for us as parents, but it’s totally worth it to help them succeed.
They may hate the process, but we know they’ll appreciate all the work and care you put into them in the end. Here are 15 of the best ways to help kids focus on their homework:
Clean Up Your Study Space
Many times you’ll find your kid goes to their study space to get to work, and five minutes later, they’re playing a game or reading a comic, which we know isn’t homework no matter what they say.
If this happens, you’ll want to start by cleaning up their study space. Eliminate distractions or temptations for distractions. Add folders or a filing cabinet of sorts to keep their leisure reads near them, but put them away when it’s study time.
Switch Up Where You Work
When studying, your location and study space can either work with your brain to retain information or against it. If your kids find their study space stagnant or complain that it’s becoming boring, try switching it up.
New study spaces can help invigorate the mind and stimulate brain flow and thus trigger better responses at homework time.
Take Brain Breaks
Our brains can only process so much information before they’re tapping out. Make sure that kids take little “brain breaks” to help their minds take in what they’ve just learned and help make room for more information. This can be watching a quick television show, reading a small book, stretching, or even playing a small game.
Take a break after each homework assignment or each page of assignments for younger kids to ensure they don’t overload their minds. These breaks will help your brain retain and organize the new information they’ve just taken in before starting on the next assignment.
Hydration affects every single part of our bodies, including our ability to focus on tasks like homework. Drinking plenty of water will keep your kids energized and feeling good, making it easier to focus on homework and keep the motivation to stay that way. Research suggests that water is one of the biggest components in helping children switch between tasks effectively.
Keep a water bottle near them, so if they start to feel fatigued or their mind starts to wander, they can take a few sips and get back on track.
Don’t Work Hungry
Before setting your kids to work on their studies, offer them a healthy snack to fill their bellies first. When your stomach is empty, it’s hard to focus on anything except food.
Providing your kids with a filling and healthy snack before they start studying will help them be comfortable and give them the fuel they need to power through the toughest assignments.
Keep a Checklist
When your kids get home from school, make a checklist of everything that needs to be done before bedtime. Then, start getting items checked off one by one.
Creating organization for your kiddo after school may seem tedious to them at first, but once they realize this simple step will help them get through their homework in a more efficient manner.
There’s nothing quite like finishing a task and getting to check it off the list, and your kids will feel the same way each time they get to put a check on their own to-do list. Marking off each homework assignment will motivate them to get the next item done and get one more item crossed off.
Make a Playlist
Making a playlist specifically for study time can help motivate your kid to get down to studying and help keep them going. This could be great for brain breaks by sneaking in a few of their favorite dance numbers in between more subdued options.
You can space out the funner songs to cue them into breaks, get them moving their bodies, and let go of any built-up stress or tension. Bonus points for rocking out with them!
Have an Outlet for Creativity
While hunger and dehydration can keep you from getting down to business, too much homework can also have you losing focus more often. Having a creative outlet for your mind can help your kids focus when it’s time to complete homework assignments.
Drawing a picture before or after homework time can stimulate the mind and give little ones an outlet for the extra energy that might keep them from sitting down to focus. Your mind can’t focus when it’s thinking about fun ideas or activities.
Take a Walk
You might only think a walk or light jog is good for the body, but a walk can actually help work out your brain too. Letting your kids move their bodies a bit in between homework assignments can help them shake out any tension caused by working on tough assignments.
It’s also a great excuse to try to connect with them for a few extra minutes every day. They’ll need to get their mind off homework, so asking them a few fun questions can be a great way to pass the time and bond.
They’ll love this extra time together so much that they’ll be powering through homework assignments in no time trying to get to their walk.
Don’t Delay Homework
To get our little ones into a good routine, we must stick to the same schedule. This means that even if you have a million things going on, you make homework the priority.
We may get to the point some days that we think it’s best to just hold off on homework for another time, but we have to keep our eyes on the prize. Putting off homework by a few hours can throw off the routine you’re trying to implement and cause it to take longer to get your kids comfortable with their time after school.
Don’t Overload the Mind
As our kids get older, homework assignments get a lot tougher. Don’t save all the hard stuff for one day, or attempt to get all the hard work done first and get through easier assignments later.
Instead, break it up into workable daily loads and keep from overloading the kids with information. This way, your child will feel accomplished after completing the workload for the day and will have the confidence to tackle the next group of assignments the next day.
Set Success Timers
This will work especially well for the smaller or younger age groups that are still learning how to focus. Set timers for tasks and homework assignments; these time limits will determine how long they are required to focus on a specific activity.
When they’re young, keep them small so they can succeed and feel accomplished. As they get older, the length of time assigned to any given task will grow. They’ll be strengthening focusing skills in a way that keeps the task positive and beneficial to their minds.
No matter how you decide to help them focus, you’re going to have to practice this over and over again to help them get it right. Focusing on homework assignments is a skill we know too well took us years to master, and the same will be said for our little ones.
You might need to try a few different practices to find the right ones that work to help your kids focus, but once you find something they like, keep doing it. According to experts, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit (but the range is 18 to 254 days).
This means you’ll need to keep practicing the right formula for several weeks before you can see a habit taking shape. While you may not be able to leave them to their own devices after those weeks, kids will be more into a routine by then. At that point, they will be able to lead themselves a lot more.
While the kids are learning good study habits, there will be times here and there when you’ll need to redirect their focus to their assignments. You may see them sitting at their desk with assignments in hand, but their minds are definitely not on their homework.
Redirecting their focus is just a little gesture to get them to snap back to attention and put away the daydreams for later when their homework is complete. It doesn’t have to be anything harsh, just a gentle squeeze or tap on the shoulder.
A redirection pulls focus back to homework in a way that kids can respond to without feeling defensive or discouraged. It will hold them accountable for finishing the assignments, but it’ll give you a way to be comforting toward them while they do so.
Find What Works, Stick to It
Once you find a focusing practice that they respond to, create a habit and stick to it. Don’t change it up just to see if something else works; keep going with what they’ve already responded well to. Encourage them to develop focusing strength in a way that’s comfortable for them.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Ensure that your child is keeping a healthy and nutritional diet in order to give them all the tools they’ll need to gain better focus on tasks. A diet full of salty and sweet snacks might be easier, but it’s certainly not the healthiest choice.
Stock up on items like oranges, avocados, and nuts for afterschool snacks to help bulk up their brains’ focusing power.
Essential Oils for Added Benefit
Even with good focusing practices, we could all use a little push in the right direction. All-natural essential oils and aromatherapy can greatly help your child’s ability to focus on their homework.
Essential oils have been used for hundreds of years to help treat ailments, including helping kids and adults focus on tasks and activities.
An easy way to get the best blend of focus-strengthening oils is to try our FocusPatch. Each patch has enough oils to give you up to eight hours of help focusing, and that’s more than enough to help kids get through their homework, no matter how tough the assignment.
Be Patient, Trust the Process
Helping kids focus on their homework can feel like an uphill battle, but trust the process and give everyone the patience and understanding needed to get there. We are confident that with the right patience and practice, your family is moving in the right direction to get kids focusing on homework and getting it done faster.