Quick tips on focus and distance learning
- Quick tip 1Make a schedule.Make a schedule.
Finding time for learning requires planning. Have kids and teens figure out the best times for doing their work. Then make a schedule to help them stay on track.
For kids and teens who struggle with focus, distance learning can be especially difficult. Here are eight ways learning at home can make it harder to focus.
1. Lack of structure
Learning from home often means making up your own routine. For some, the flexibility is liberating. But kids and teens who struggle with focus tend to do better when they know exactly what to expect, and exactly what’s expected of them.
2. External distractions
A doorbell ringing, someone making lunch, people or pets moving around. There are sights, smells, and sounds at home that make it hard to focus on schoolwork.
3. Internal distractions
Many kids are feeling sad or anxious because of the pandemic. They may miss seeing friends or attending events. Some are coping with the trauma of family members losing jobs or getting sick. And social media exposes them to what other people are going through. All these emotions and worries can be as distracting as a loud TV.
4. Less support for time management
At home, there are no set start and end times for when to get work done. And there are no teachers standing there to keep them on track. Without the natural supports that exist in a classroom, kids and teens can easily drift off and lose track of time.
5. No in-person help for refocusing
At school, the teacher can refocus students with a hand on the shoulder or a quiet reminder. Classmates asking or answering a question can bring attention back to the lesson or activity.
6. Not enough sleep
Changes in routine can upset sleep schedules. And coping with uncertainty and anxiety can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep. When people don’t get enough sleep, it directly impacts how well they can focus.
7. Long, written communication
Many teachers are using email to reach students and share information. But a long email can be hard to focus on, just like a long oral lesson in the classroom can be. The same is true of written class materials.
8. No change in scenery or built-in breaks
Staying in one place all day can make it hard to stay focused. Students get built-in breaks in regular school. Recess, gym, music or art class, and even changing from room to room all help students recharge.
About the author
About the author
Gretchen Vierstra, MA is the managing editor at Understood and co-host of the “In It” podcast. She’s a former educator with experience teaching and designing programs in schools, organizations, and online learning spaces.
Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.