Written by Tanni Haas, PH.D.
The new school year has begun and many kids either still receive remote instruction from home or take part in hybrid learning where they spend part of the week at home and part in-person at their regular schools. Either way, remote instruction continues to be a big part of their education. How can parents help their kids focus—and stay focused—during the many hours at home in front of their computers? Here’s what the experts say:
Create A Daily Schedule
The first and most important you can do is to help your kids create a daily schedule. The schedule should include, says educational psychologist Dr. Carey Heller, “The assignments they’re going to complete that day and when they’ve live classes to attend.” It’ll give them a good idea of what they need to accomplish and how much time they have for each assignment.
Focus On One Assignment At A Time
Your kids have many assignments to do each day, but that doesn’t mean that they should focus on several assignments simultaneously. The evidence is clear, says clinical psychologist Dr. Jamie Howard: “Multitasking reduces concentration.” Dr. Rick Bavaria of Sylvan Learning, a large tutoring service, agrees: “You can’t give one hundred percent of your attention to more than one thing at a time. It’s as simple as that.” Encourage your kids to keep their focus fully on one assignment before they move on to the next one.
Teach your kids how to prioritize assignments, and explain to them how to break down an assignment into multiple parts. Kids “handle large or difficult tasks better if they’re broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces,” says educational psychologist Dr. Tali Shenfield.
Take Frequent Breaks
They should take a break from their school work every once in a while. “Kids need to get up, move around, and do something different and not too taxing after spending some time concentrating,” Dr. Howard says. Good activities include physical exercise, playing an instrument, or just taking a brief walk outside – anything that helps to relax and recharge them.
You can also help your kids focus better if you eliminate the temptation to access non-school-related sites like gaming or social media sites. As Dr. Heller says, “Help your children stay on task while using a computer by blocking access to distracting websites.” Some of the best parental control software programs, according to PC Magazine, include Kaspersky Safe Kids, Norton Family Premier and Quostodio.
Keep School Supplies Within Reach
A helpful way to keep them on track is to make sure that everything they need is within easy reach. Kids are best able to focus, says counseling psychologist Dr. Shireen Stephen, when you keep “everything that’s required at hand so that your child doesn’t need to get up to get anything.” This includes textbooks, workbooks, math supplies and snacks.
Give Them Nutritious Food and Drinks
Experts agree that kids need nutritious food and drinks to focus on their school work. “Eating junk food or food rich in sugar makes a child sluggish,” says Dr. Stephen, “while food rich in proteins such as almonds, eggs and lean meat have the ability to raise awareness and increase concentration levels.” The same goes for drinks. Kids need healthy drinks like fruit juice, milk or water, rather than sodas and energy drinks which only give them a short-lived sugar high.