Five ways to help your child focus

Keep distractions at bay with these easy tips for getting kids to stay on task.

By GreatSchools Staff

Many young kids have trouble sitting still and staying focused. But as students get more homework, they need to be able to stick with a task and finish it.

Here are some ways to help your child stay focused:

Get the ya-yas out first. Moving the body motivates the brain. Try having your child walk or bike to school, play outside after school, do chores around the house, or play on a sports team. Make sure your child has had a chance to run, walk, or jump around before sitting down to homework.

Turn off screens and cell phones. Before your kid tackles homework or does anything that takes concentration, turn off the television. Or if others are watching it, make sure your child is far enough away that he can’t be distracted by it. Also, shut down or move him away from the computer, and if your child has a cell phone, make sure that’s off too.

Make a to-do list. Having a lot of chores and homework assignments can be overwhelming for kids. Help your child focus on getting things done by making a list — together — of everything he needs to do for the day or week. Then let him cross off each task as he finishes it.

Use signals. Try to avoid conversations when your child is working. To cut out distracting talk altogether, you and your child can even come up with a few basic signals. For example, when you point to his work, that means he needs to go back to what he was doing. Or when you raise your hand, that means he should stop what he’s doing and get to work. For some kids, it helps to just lay a hand on their shoulder to bring them back into focus.

Take breathers. During homework time, make sure your child takes a few breaks. After working for 10 or 20 minutes (depending on his age), have him get up and move around, get a drink, and then go back to work. But don’t let him get involved in something else during the break. Just make that time a relaxing few minutes.