Kids are doing a lot of multitasking these days—from surfing the Web to texting, instant messaging and listening to their iPods®—constant distractions compete for their attention. With so many potential interruptions, it can be difficult for children to stop and focus on the task at hand. Yet, helping children develop self-discipline, effective focus strategies and concentration skills at an early age is a basis for long-term success in high school, college and the professional working world. Here are some practical and manageable tips parents can use to help their children focus, complete their homework and ultimately succeed.
1. Set Expectations Early
Explain to your children that just as you have many important responsibilities (at home, at work, in your community, etc.), learning is their most important "job" right now. The earlier you set your expectations and establish a routine for learning, homework and studying, the easier it will be to maintain. Make it a family practice: Allow older children to set an example for younger children—include younger children in homework and study hour by having them quietly color, look at books or do some other learning activity during this time.
2. Manage Distractions
Although eliminating every possible distraction is nearly impossible, there are ways to manage and minimize the number of things that can pull a child's focus away. Start with technology: no television, phone or computer until homework is done. Total silence isn't required, because research has found that certain types of music help people concentrate better, especially classical and instrumental music. If your child is interested in listening to music, consider playing Bach, Mozart or Beethoven.
3. Establish Rules for Homework Time
There is nothing more distracting than a knock on the door and an invitation to play when it's homework time. Require that your children's homework and studying be completed (neatly and correctly) before going out to play. This can be hard in the summer, when other children are off from school at different times. As seasons and activities change throughout the year, be flexible and adapt to changing schedules.
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