Tips to Increase Student Focus
Imagine being a student, staring out the window at a beautiful sunny spring day, knowing how much fun is to be had out there! How can schoolwork compete with Mother Nature? Well, if you school at home, it doesn’t necessarily have to!
Springtime offers plenty of opportunities to pull nature into daily lessons. If your student has earned it, why not take advantage of the weather and have a lesson outside, maybe at a local park, or turn it into a picnic, where you bring lunch and schoolwork and get down to business? Use performance and completion incentives to reward your student with a trip outside, and don’t let his or her young mind wander too far from schoolwork and homework. Now is the time to buckle down and pull through to the finish line without letting a school year’s worth of hard work go by the wayside.
Here are some tips for families who school at home to help kids stay focused and engaged, and to ensure a successful completion of the school year:
- Create a distraction-free learning environment by taking a spring-cleaning approach to uncluttering your student’s school area. For example, transform a closet or designate shelving in your home for your school supplies. Create labeled bins for materials by subject that can be transported to your school area as needed.
- Make sure your student’s school area is set up in a dedicated section of your home that is quiet and low-traffic. If this is not possible, try to make the area calm and clutter-free before your school day starts.
Keep to your routine and schedule
- Post your student’s daily and weekly schedule in the school area. Make sure it also includes any other scheduled appointments, including extracurricular activities, field trips, upcoming obligations, and some family downtime.
- Create a self-monitoring checklist for your student to keep at his or her workspace so he or she can check off daily tasks as they are completed. This way your student will have visual evidence of his or her accomplishments and remaining responsibilities.
- Do the hardest subjects during the best “focus” time of day for your student. Keeping records of what time of day is most productive will help you adjust the schedule accordingly.
- Try to have your student work at the same time each day, but also allow for hands-on activities, discussion of assignments, and short reviews of past skills learned.
- You could use an alarm clock as your school bell or a kitchen timer to structure work and break times. This gives your child a visual and auditory indicator of time on task and break time.
Don’t let up on your diligence
- Keep your expectations high and hold your student to the performance standards you’ve established.
- Make sure your rules and consequences are clearly posted in your student’s school area.
- Everyone has a bad day and can experience slight mood swings. If you start seeing an attitude or noncompliant behavior frequently when it is time to do certain assignments or problems, there is a possibility your child does not understand how to complete the assignment, it is an area of skill deficit, he or she is procrastinating, or you need to provide an alternative explanation. Don’t be afraid to call your teacher for assistance if you are enrolled in a virtual school.
Praise and encourage
- Review your student’s growth over the school year and celebrate the accomplishments your student already achieved.
- Praise the exact behavior you expect of your student. This will help better communicate what exactly he or she can do to be successful! You could create tickets that say “5 minute break ticket,” and provide one as a reward when you notice your student has been working diligently. Pairing the ticket with behavior-specific praise can be a very effective form of motivation. You could say, for example, “Billy, I really liked the way you immediately turned to the exact page we were working on. You are really showing a good work ethic!” As time goes on, you will be able to fade out the tangible rewards, and your positive praise will be your child’s main source of reward and intrinsic motivation.
For virtual school parents: Don’t forget the main keys to being a great Learning Coach, and remember to keep pace with what your student is involved in each day. Being prepared to facilitate the daily lessons will keep you in the driver’s seat to guide your student to a successful completion of the school year.