It can be a nightmare when you have to prepare for a meeting and your kid is anything but focusing on his homework. Been there, done that, freaked out.
Making matters worse, kids from all over the world are having to study at home because of the COVID-19. It’s a daily battle for many parents, leaving them stressed out and feeling helpless. Some parents give up, while others try to source around for solutions.
If you are one of these parents, stress not!
Here are 10 useful tips to help you improve your child’s focus:
1. Design a creative timetable with your child
We can teach our kids discipline by creating a daily schedule. Decide on the time to start on the assignments, study breaks, lunchtime, and completion of the assignments.
Create this timetable with your child, allow your child to doodle on it. This not only brings out the creativity in them, but it will also give them a sense of belonging. To them, this is their timetable and they will take extra care to follow the schedule.
2. List down the day’s objectives
Like adults, our kids will also need to learn to set goals, except theirs is simpler. Their goal is to complete the assignments for that day, and preferably to set a reminder of their next online tuition class.
This will enable them to have a clearer understanding of what is being expected of them. For my kids, I will browse through the assignments with them the night before, and more clearly the following day.
3. Break things down
Every child has his or her own ability to learn and handle the assignments given to them.
Some assignments might be too difficult for a child to complete, try breaking it down into smaller parts to allow a clearer understanding of what is being required. This will not only increase their focus, but it will also give them a better sense of accomplishment.
4. Give them only one or two directions
When we want our kids to focus better, it will be helpful if we can control ourselves from giving them too many directions. For example, if they have English, Maths, Chinese and Art online lessons on that day, you might find it easier if your kid takes out all the written worksheets, exercise books, crayons, scissors, glue, etc all at once. Yet your kid might be thinking likewise, and end up forgetting everything. To avoid this, you can help your child by letting him decide which subject he would like to complete first and getting that particular subject worksheet.
5. Do One Thing At a Time
Explain to your child that it is OK to focus on one thing at a time, doing too many things at one go will only make them more confused, losing focus on their current task. A sudden change to what they are doing will create more distractions or worst, frustration sets in.
6. Give your kid a break in between
We all know that staring at the computer screen for too long is bad for our eyes, likewise for our kids. Give them plenty of study breaks in between assignments, especially for the younger ones. The younger they are, the more rest their brains will need to refocus again.
Although the kids must finish their assignments, however, we do not want to put too much stress on them. It will be difficult for us parents too when we have to juggle between our online meetings and ensuring they finish their work. Between these breaks, the kids can continue with their colouring books, drawings, have fun with their lego blocks, play board games if there’re other siblings, anything except other types of screen activities.
7. Have a dedicated study area or space
To avoid further distractions, do not put your child’s study table in their play area. The toys will entice them to enter into their play zone making it more difficult for them to focus on the current task.
Make sure that this dedicated area is quiet and away from their younger siblings who can be quite rowdy. Keep the area neat and tidy, where only their study items, eg books, pencil case, note-books, are on the table. By having a dedicated area for study, their brain will learn to switch into the study zone and this will increase their focus better.
8. Encourage your child after a completed task
All of us like to be praised or rewarded when we finished our tasks. What more when you are a kid! Be generous with your praises and reward them with a bowl of ice cream or extra playtime when they finish their assignments within the time frame. Not only it is a good bonding time with your kids, but you are also encouraging them to be independent and self-disciplined. One stone killing multiple birds, not a bad deal agree?
9. Use the Pomodoro Technique
Pomo what? Pomodoro stands for tomato in Italian, and it is one of the highly recommended ways if you are looking to be more efficient in time management. You set the tomato timer for eg 25min and you commit this 25minutes to complete the work that you are dreading the most. Once this 25min is up, you stop whatever you are doing and move on to the next task. This increases the focus and motivation level as you know that you have a time limit.
If you would like to know more about this technique, you can read up on this article written by the founder of the technique, Francesco Cirillo, http://www.baomee.info/pdf/technique/1.pdf
Instead of using a tomato timer, let your kid choose the timer he or she likes. This will give them excitement and gives them a more positive reaction to this technique.
Let them know that they have to say 20 minutes to finish their written assignment and another 20 minutes for the online lesson. So set the timer to 20 minutes first, and then another 20 minutes after.
10. Have enough sleep
I’m sure you’ve heard of this plenty of times, and you are thinking to yourself “I wish I can get them into bed at 9 pm too so that I can have my me time early!” The average hours of sleep a child (6-12 years old) needs should be about 9 to 12 hours. The younger they are, the longer the hours of sleep needed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has some good tips on how to help parents get their me-time early. Check this out ->
As parents, we know of statistics that have shown how our children will be affected when exposed to screen activities for too long hours. To make things worst, our children are now having to do their assignments online through full home-based learning (FHBL).
While I was writing this post, I came across an article about how much time is still considered as ‘healthy’ for our children. A psychologist from the University of Oxford in England found out that kids who are exposed to screen activities (video-games) are happier and healthier. Of course, it does not mean that these kids are exposed for long hours. He found out that kids who are exposed for one hour per day are better than those exposed for more than three hours than those who do not play at all.
Here is the link to the study:
Regardless of which method you use to help your child improve focus, always give them lots of praise at the end of the day. This is a form of recognition for their hard work and efforts, and it will bring up their self-esteem.
Have fun trying out these tips and see what works best for you! Meanwhile, stay in and stay healthy during this crucial period!
If you are looking for additional support to strengthen your child’s academy, do feel free to approach this group of dedicated and professional teachers over at http://www.lejoureducation.com! They are currently having a 30% discount off their online classes across all levels, so don’t miss this opportunity!
The above is contributed by Juliana, a proud mother of 3 boys.