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How to Help Your Child Focus Better

written by: Deb Killion • edited by: Carly Stockwell • updated: 12/10/2015

Whether or not your child has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, these tips should help your child focus, be healthier, and do better in school.

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    Focus is important. How well children are able to focus on tasks is an important aspect of their success. Some kids struggle greatly with focus due to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and other problems. There are medications some kids take for this problem, but some medications leave them feeling lethargic. Medication issues must be taken up with your family medical doctor and some of it is a “trial and error" process. But, in addition to medication, there are some other things that can be helpful in some cases to improve focus.

    Even kids who do not have ADHD or ADD struggle with focusing at school. Little distractions may pull their attention away from what is going on in class so that it becomes a struggle to keep them on the right path to learning.

    Here are a few ideas that may help kids stay focused in school and improve their concentration level:

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    Provide a Positive Emotional Climate

    This is not always easy to accomplish in the school environment, but you can control this more at home. Have a quiet study environment where kids go to study and work on their schoolwork, free of distractions or things that detract from their level of concentration. Ask them to put up a sign on their door when they are studying, so that others will know to not disturb them when they are focusing on their work. Praise kids for working for longer stretches of time such as 30 minutes or an hour without breaking their concentration. Focus is a skill that can be learned with self-discipline and time.

    Set Rules and Expectations at the Beginning of Each School Year

    Communication with kids is important in everything, including their level of focus and achievement. Teach them your expectations at the onset of every school year and explain to them the rewards and consequences for staying on task. Have a scheduled time for homework; preferably in the afternoon after they get home after a short snack and mental break from the day. Another good practice is to say: Work first. Play later. This idea carries a lot of meaning and teaches them that they should get their work done first before they are allowed to play and have fun and do what they want.

    Encourage Involvement in a Hobby or Interest

    Kids who are happy are more focused in general. If they have certain activities they like to do, such as playing games on the computer or talking to friends, building Lego villages, or creating music, any of these things can inspire them to stay focused. By working on their hobby and learning to focus on the task until they are finished, they may start carrying over these habits to their schoolwork too. Such interests may also motivate them to do a great job with their regular work, so that they will have more time to do what they love most.

    Plenty of Rest

    Kids who are well rested are more engaged in their learning at school and at home. Make sure kids stay on a regular schedule and get around 8 hours of rest at night. Kids who stay up too late may not be able to focus as well during the day. Know the sleep cycle of your child and adjust his or her schedules accordingly. Also, make sure they get a good breakfast each morning, as this contributes to their focus levels as well.

    Get Them Active in Sports or Activities

    Physical activity has also been known to increase the concentration level of kids. Physical exercise has been known to improve brain function and keep kids on task better than most other activities. Some schools use this to stimulate brain activity and keep kids alert by letting them run in place or do calisthenics for a few minutes before returning to class.

    Limit Screen Time

    Computers and technology are great tools and they add to the educational process. But they can also detract from it. Limit the amount of time kids spend with TV and electronic media and technology so that they do not become lethargic from too much exposure to passive activities. Even though apps and games are interactive, there is a limit to how much should be allowed so that kids stay alert and awake to do the more important tasks.

    Provide a Positive Emotional Climate

    This is not always easy to accomplish in the school environment, but you can control this more at home. Have a quiet study environment where kids go to study and work on their schoolwork, free of distractions or things that detract from their level of concentration. Ask them to put up a sign on their door when they are studying, so that others will know to not disturb them when they are focusing on their work. Praise kids for working for longer stretches of time such as 30 minutes or an hour without breaking their concentration. Focus is a skill that can be learned with self-discipline and time.

    Set Rules and Expectations at the Beginning of Each School Year

    Communication with kids is important in everything, including their level of focus and achievement. Teach them your expectations at the onset of every school year and explain to them the rewards and consequences for staying on task. Have a scheduled time for homework; preferably in the afternoon after they get home after a short snack and mental break from the day. Another good practice is to say: Work first. Play later. This idea carries a lot of meaning and teaches them that they should get their work done first before they are allowed to play and have fun and do what they want.

    Encourage Involvement in a Hobby or Interest

    Kids who are happy are more focused in general. If they have certain activities they like to do, such as playing games on the computer or talking to friends, building Lego villages, or creating music, any of these things can inspire them to stay focused. By working on their hobby and learning to focus on the task until they are finished, they may start carrying over these habits to their schoolwork too. Such interests may also motivate them to do a great job with their regular work, so that they will have more time to do what they love most.

    Plenty of Rest

    Kids who are well rested are more engaged in their learning at school and at home. Make sure kids stay on a regular schedule and get around 8 hours of rest at night. Kids who stay up too late may not be able to focus as well during the day. Know the sleep cycle of your child and adjust his or her schedules accordingly. Also, make sure they get a good breakfast each morning, as this contributes to their focus levels as well.

    Get Them Active in Sports or Activities

    Physical activity has also been known to increase the concentration level of kids. Physical exercise has been known to improve brain function and keep kids on task better than most other activities. Some schools use this to stimulate brain activity and keep kids alert by letting them run in place or do calisthenics for a few minutes before returning to class.

    Limit Screen Time

    Computers and technology are great tools and they add to the educational process. But they can also detract from it. Limit the amount of time kids spend with TV and electronic media and technology so that they do not become lethargic from too much exposure to passive activities. Even though apps and games are interactive, there is a limit to how much should be allowed so that kids stay alert and awake to do the more important tasks.