By Melissa A. Kay
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 your child on track is key. These seven tips can help.
As the weather warms up, your child may not want to complete his chores. You may be tempted to slack off, too. Make a pact with your child: When you both finish your work or your chores, you’ll do something fun together outside. Then prioritize what needs to get done.
Your child won’t be able to automatically tune out all distractions, especially his thoughts and desire to be outside doing fun things. But if he sees you resisting temptation and focusing on the task at hand, he’ll be more likely to do the same.
Rules and expectations are especially important for kids who have trouble staying focused. But your child may forget all about these things because of spring break, sports practice and other changes.
Remind your child what you expect—and what he can expect. (You can even write it down and put it in a central spot.) When he’s done with chores, he can go out and play. Once he’s read for 30 minutes, he can watch TV. Being clear about these kinds of expectations can help your child focus on his work and get it done.
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.
Your child 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.
Phone apps, checklists and even kitchen timers can remind your child to stay focused on what he needs to do. These tools can also give him a sense of when he will be able to do the things he’s looking forward to now that the weather is nicer. Reminder tools can motivate him to stick to his task and get the job done.
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 your child to go for a run, ride a bike or play outdoor games like tag. Have him sign up for a sport.
If playing a sport means you have to adjust the regular routine a bit, that’s fine. Just make sure there are still clear expectations.
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 your child that even though it’s nice out, school is still in session and he needs to make it a priority.
Learning doesn’t have to stop during breaks, either. Make your outdoor activities educational. Explore nature. Visit historical sites. And be sure to help your child keep track of the days during break so he’s not surprised when it’s time to go back to school.
If you allow a little wiggle room, the gratitude may go a long way. Try letting your child do his homework outside. Or 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 his overall ability to focus. And it might make him more motivated to get done the things he has to.
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Melissa A. Kay is a writer, editor and content strategist in the areas of family, health, employment, beauty, lifestyle and more.
Jenn Osen-Foss, M.A.T., is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions and co-planning.
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