How To Improve A Student's Focus
In order to succeed at school, or at anything in life, one needs to focus. While this might come easy to some kids, others may find it incredibly hard to do. If you notice that your child or student is having trouble focusing, there could be many reasons why. Perhaps they’re bored and need to be challenged. Perhaps they have ADHD (which should be diagnosed and medicated). Or perhaps they just lack the skills needed to focus. If the latter is the case, here are some tips to try to help a student focus.
Ensure that the student is focusing on one thing at a time: one math problem, one sentence, one instruction. Break the task down so they’re not as overwhelmed and they can focus on that little part rather than a larger task. Lessening the time constraints can also help. If the student can focus for twenty minutes and not thirty, then try assigning work for be done two sessions of twenty minutes. Additionally, try to remove any outside stimuli. Even things in the background like music or talking can distract them. If they’re doing work at a desk, make sure the desk is clear and clean.
Don’t forget to take breaks, both of the food kind and the exercise kind. Young children especially are full of energy and sometimes when they get antsy, their focus is lacking. By allowing time for kids to burn off some energy and pay some attention to something else, they are more likely to return calmer and ready to focus better.
On the subject of exercise, consider meditation as a way to help the child focus. Breathing techniques and having control of one’s body can help one slow down their brain enough to focus. Even just having the student close their eyes and breathe deeply in and out can be enough.
Try to engage them with entertainment. If a child has no problem focusing on a TV show but can’t focus on math homework, it’s because the math is boring and they have no passion for it. If possible, try to teach or inform in a more entertaining way. Use visuals or relatable material. For example, if the student loves hockey, perhaps use hockey statistics to teach math.
Consider setting rewards. Don’t go overboard and spoil them, but the student might be more inclined to give all their focus if they had a reason to, other than just ‘completing the homework sheet’.
No two students are the same, so perhaps try to figure out if they learn differently. If they need to use Lego blocks to help count because they’re a visual learner, then try to adapt as much of the work for this. As much as we just suggested removing music and sounds, perhaps they are an auditory learner and the music could help them. Unless the student knows what they need, trial and error has be to be done, but the results can be valuable.
One way to build focus skills is through games. 'I Spy', 'Simon Says', 'The Licence Plate Game', 'Musical Chairs', and many other classic games require focus. This ties to the idea of setting rewards, as even the thrill of winning could be incentive enough. But games aren’t the only way to build focus. It can be done anywhere at any time. Encouraging a student to complete even small or meaningless tasks like reading a menu or folding their clothes can help build their focus by keeping them stimulated and thinking.
Obviously, all these tips can’t work and they definitely should not all be tried at the same time, but if you work with the student and try to understand why they’re lacking focus, implementing a few of these tips should help and with time, you should see an improvement in the child’s focus.