We’re all different, but as parents, there’s one thing we usually have in common: the homework struggle. And it’s real.
It happens every day. There’s the ever-piling list of things to do, usually accompanied by the not-so-willing student who needs help staying motivated.
As a parent, you know too well that every decision in school impacts your student’s future. Better grades mean more opportunities, after high school and even in elementary school.
Getting your child to focus on homework can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few easy changes you can implement now to start seeing improvements today. Check out the tips below.
Tips to Help Your Child Focus on Homework
Tip 1: Have your child do a small exercise first
Studies show that cardio-based exercises boost memory and thinking skills. Cardio based means doing something that accelerates the heart rate.
If you get your child moving before starting schoolwork, it will get the blood flowing. This will help the brain become more active and ready to focus on homework.
Some exercises could be jogging, riding a bike, playing a sport or even just dancing a bit to some fun music. Anything your student likes to do that’s fast-paced can certainly help the motivation and focus.
Tip 2: Get a routine set and stick to it
With Valor’s blended model, there is the added benefit of a more flexible schedule. With that added benefit comes the need for discipline.
To be successful in courses, it’s best to create a daily schedule for your child. Ideally, your child would put this schedule together with your help where needed. Keep the schedule realistic, including breaks where necessary.
Once a schedule is in place, there’s less guessing. Routines can also lead to reduced stress, as some studies have shown.
How to Make a Schedule:
1. Get a planner, or use a free online application
Some tool for your child easily view the daily schedule is important. This can be a physical planner or an app, but either way, it’ll make sticking to a schedule much simpler.
2. Think about the week; include every plan
Have your student list everything they plan to do that week. Does she like to fit in some time to skateboard? Great! Schedule it in. Besides, it might be best to do that skateboarding right before homework.
3. Be Realistic
If your child is more of a night owl, you don’t have to force them to be an early bird and vice versa. Adjust free time and homework time accordingly. Your student might be one who needs frequent breaks in order to work efficiently. If that’s the case, then set a timer for 30 minutes of work with a 15-minute break immediately following.
Whatever works best with your child’s learning style will be a routine you both can stick to. You’ll be able to figure that out as you try new things and test them out.
Tip 3: Gather the necessary items before starting homework
Small disruptors go a long way (we’ll explain that more later).
If your child stops homework to grab a snack or a notebook, he’s going to get distracted.
Make sure your student has all the necessary materials ready to go before starting schoolwork.
Keep a list of teacher’s and guidance counselor’s phone numbers on hand. Also having note-taking materials, the daily schedule and a glass of water will help your child be better prepared to focus.
Tip 4: Establish a workspace
We’re not saying you have to go to the store right now and drop hundreds on a desk, chair and supplies. The workspace doesn’t have to be traditional. But it should be a designated place in order to better focus on homework.
Maybe that place is an office in your home. Or perhaps your child has a fuzzy bean bag in your room that she loves. Whatever you both decide, make it a habit, and make sure it’s a place that’s comfortable to work. After all, that bean bag might be comfy to relax in, but might not be best once your student has a laptop and notebook to juggle.
It can be a good idea to incorporate some fun items to the workspace to help your child be excited to work there. These can be items like photos, music, lotion, candles or a favorite drink.
Whatever is decided, it’s a great idea to separate the workspace from sleep space.
If your child does homework in your bed where she sleeps, it’s likely going to make her want to take a nap rather than do homework. Make sure she studies somewhere you know he won’t get distracted until she finishes homework.
Tip 5: Remove all distractions
A distraction includes anything that deters your student from focusing on homework. This can range from music to a loud sibling.
Let’s take a moment to talk about those smartphones. They’re more detrimental to homework than you might think.
A study showed that having the phone on silent isn’t enough. Small disturbances like a screen notification could increase errors in your work. It also could prolong the time it takes to complete assignments. Here’s why:
As a researcher from the study stated, “Although these notifications are generally short in duration, they can prompt… mind-wandering, which has been shown to damage task performance,” (PsychCentral).
Even just being aware of a missed call, an unread text or another notification causes the brain to lose focus on homework. It knows there is something else to do, and it diverts attention.
We recommend setting all smart devices (phone, tablet, etc) in another room. If your child is able to forget about it, he will likely finish his homework quicker with fewer mistakes.
Tips to Help Your Child Stop Procrastinating
Tip 1: Create Rewards For Motivation
If you know your student has six assignments to complete in a day, then set aside a small reward for each.
Know your student’s weaknesses and turn them into rewards. If she likes to surf YouTube videos or SnapChat with friends, then allow these activities AFTER she’s completed schoolwork, but not until then.
Tip 2: If your child gets bored easily, incorporate more breaks
If your student has a hard time staying focused (like most students), it can cause stress or negative associations if she thinks he has to do his homework all in one sitting. And if your child experiences high stress before starting homework, he’s probably going to have a difficult time not procrastinating.
If that sounds like your child, then implement short breaks. Let him take a short break and color, or turn on a favorite YouTube music video and have a dance fest.
Getting the blood circulating will help your child’s brain and spirit. Nothin’ like rockin’ out to a favorite tune!
Now this is the way to do homework, right?!
By breaking up coursework with small, fun tasks, her brain will have more positive associations. This might help your child dread starting homework less.
Tip 3: Reach out to your guidance counselor
It’s often a forgotten fact that your guidance counselor’s job is to help your student with any academic struggles. If your child has trouble starting her coursework, reach out to your counselor for help. They are state-certified and dedicated to you.
Helping your child stay on track with homework is never easy, we know. But by following the tips above, it can become less stressful, and your child will hopefully be able to stay more focused.