Spring is in the air. And that can make staying focused even harder for kids who are easily distracted. With many weeks of school still to go, keeping kids on track is key. These seven tips can help.
1. Be a good role model.
As the weather warms up, kids may not want to complete their chores. You may be tempted to slack off, too. Make a pact: When you both finish your work or your chores, you’ll do something fun together outside. Then prioritize what needs to get done.
Kids won’t be able to automatically tune out all distractions, especially their thoughts and their desire to be outside doing fun things. But if they see you resisting temptation and focusing on the task at hand, they’ll be more likely to do the same.
2. Discuss rules and expectations.
Rules and expectations are especially important for kids who have trouble staying focused. But kids may forget all about these things because of spring break, great weather, and other changes.
Remind kids what you expect — and what they can expect. (You can even write it down and put it in a central spot.) When they’re done with chores, they can go out and play. Once they’ve read for 30 minutes, they can watch TV. Being clear about these kinds of expectations can help kids focus on their work and get it done.
3. Stick to routines.
In springtime, nature’s schedule changes. But just because it’s light outside later in the day doesn’t mean your family schedule should change. It’s important to stick to a regular routine — especially for kids who have trouble focusing.
Kids may want to stay up a lot later, or go back out to play after dinner, for instance. Resist the temptation to stray from your usual routine. Even during spring break, routines such as bedtime should be around the same time. Make a list of the non-negotiables and stick to them.
4. Use reminder tools.
Phone apps, checklists, and even kitchen timers can remind kids to stay focused on what they need to do. These tools can also give them a sense of when they will be able to do the things they’re looking forward to now that the weather is nicer. Reminder tools can motivate kids to stick to their tasks and get the job done.
5. Encourage exercise.
There’s a built-in benefit to warmer weather: It lets kids blow off steam and burn more energy outdoors. Studies show that exercise can actually help kids focus. So encourage kids to go for a run, ride a bike, or play outside.
If making room for exercise means you have to adjust the regular routine a bit, that’s fine. Just make sure there are still clear expectations.
6. Keep school top of mind.
For many kids, school seems less important in springtime. After all, which would you rather do if you were a kid? Math worksheets or sidewalk art? Keep reminding kids that even though it’s nice out, school is still in session and they need to make it a priority.
Learning doesn’t have to stop during breaks, either. Make your outdoor activities educational. Explore nature together. And be sure to help kids keep track of the days during break so it’s not a surprise when it’s time to go back to school.
7. Leave room for exceptions.
If you allow a little wiggle room, the gratitude may go a long way. Try letting kids do their homework outside. Or let them stay up half an hour later on spring break or holiday weekends.
If it means you have to give an extra reminder when it’s time to come in and get ready for bed, don’t worry. Compromising every now and then won’t affect their overall ability to focus. And it might make them more motivated to get done the things they have to.