If your child struggles to stay on task, use these tips to encourage focus.

It can be hard for children to focus, especially in a school environment. In many ways, concentration is like a muscle: use it often, and it becomes stronger every day. Let it atrophy, and it takes superhuman effort to get it up and running. While some people are naturally able to focus and concentrate, many others need help learning how to strengthen concentration skills.

If you notice that your child is struggling to engage in classes or complete homework tasks, then it may be time for you to step in and help him or her acquire this important skill. The demands of academic life, career success, and social interaction require that each of us have the ability to focus and concentrate to achieve our goals.

Not only will this practice help your child find success, but it can lead to improved performance, which will grow confidence and self-esteem. Here are three key tips to helping children exercise their concentration muscles.

Create a designated focus time and workspace

Chaotic environments can disrupt a child’s ability to focus on homework or school tasks. While many children love to be right in the middle of household activity, this is not always the best place for them to complete their assignments. To encourage calm focus, you should consider setting up an organized space for daily homework discipline.

A quiet environment and clear workspace — such as a desk or table — will limit distractions and help your student clear his or her mind and focus. Limit items to the essentials like textbooks and study tools — no phones or social media browsing.

Set small goals and take frequent breaks

Generally speaking, it is difficult for students who already struggle to focus to concentrate for long periods. Consider the muscle analogy: You would not expect a brand-new runner to race a marathon, so why expect a distracted student to study for hours on end? Unrealistic expectations can quickly lead a student to give up and stop trying.

Instead, set small, measurable goals for your child to achieve in the study process, followed by a short break. Many people find that the Pomodoro technique is an excellent way to approach this kind of study pattern. With this technique, students work for intervals of up to 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. The short work intervals help the student to avoid frustration or hopelessness, while the breaks reward him or her for staying focused.

Pay attention to nutrition and sleep habits

An often-overlooked culprit for students who struggle to stay focused in school is proper nutrition and sleeping patterns. Study after study indicates that a poor diet and too little sleep can have a disastrous effect on students’ academic performance, not to mention overall behavior and social skills.

With that in mind, if you notice that your child is having trouble concentrating, make sure he or she is maintaining good eating and sleeping habits. A good rule of thumb is to maintain consistent bedtimes and limit the amount of sugar and caffeine in your child’s diet. Making a few healthy swaps for poor patterns can make a world of difference in your child’s cognitive and physical function.

American Heritage School is committed to student development. Please browse through our website to learn more about our school and all of our offerings. And call 561-495-7272 to schedule a personalized campus tour.