The average adult is now spending 5 hours a day just on their mobile devices, and the story is similar with our children.
Multitasking is both the cause and the result of the connected world. We try to do more tasks at once, but fail to complete any real work. Studies show that it takes an average of 15 minutes to get back to your task after a distraction: every message on Facebook or Snapchat, each email takes you to the zone of busywork.
The good news is that learning to focus is a habit that can be learned. Even from the young age.
How can you do it and how can you help your child focus?
- Gamification: separate time for work and play
Everyone has been there: the child starts the homework but sneakily watches Youtube instead. How can you make sure the temptations and drama are avoided?
How to do it? Make a game out of it. Build your kid’s schedule around doable tasks: 30 minutes of interrupted homework, and then a little break. This can be an activity like walking the dog or cleaning up their room. Each task gets a certain amount of points. For 10 points the child gets 1 hour of a favorite game, for 20 – a visit to their favorite ice cream shop and so on. The prizes should be some bonus the child actually enjoys, not a necessity.
This way, the motivation will be higher because of the clear structure. Make sure the rules are clear: there is time for work, there is time for play, and watching TV with an open book in your hands doesn’t count as “doing homework”.
Why it works: Studies have shown the consequences of too much tech exposure on little ones’ brains. Not only is it immediately distracting, but studies show it can have long term effects as well. According to Psychology Today, kids spend 7 hours on electronics a day. That’s a lot. Check out this article to see how parental controls can help. Learn more about gamification here.
- Meet in the middle: Unplug
The key benefit and problem with technology is that it’s always there. No matter if you agree on the rules: there is always a temptation to break them.
How to do it? Discuss with your child, what time they think should be free from technology. Make sure you agree to have at least 1-2 hours a day, when neither the child nor you, the parent, have access to technology. What will you do with it? Read a book together? Go for a dance lesson? Have this time for fun and bonding.
A good idea would be to have the last hour before bed a completely tech free zone. Go about their bedtime routine without a TV, smartphone, or game console in sight.
Why it works: Tech time before bed can lead to too little sleep, poorer quality of sleep, and all of the bad side effects that come with that (think cranky, sleepy kids!). This will help them wind down before bed and wake up more prepared for the long school day ahead.
- Don’t overdo it: use productivity techniques
Focus is all about the right balance between work and a time to play. Efficient is not the same as effective. Ensure that your child is not stressed by learning various productivity hacks early.
How to do it?
Chose one of the many productivity techniques and adapt it to your day. Maybe the Pomodoro technique works for you? You could do focused work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. During these breaks, have your child do something physical to help them get the sillies out. Make sure the time they spend relaxing is screen free.
Why it works: Moving around is necessary because it can be hard for kids to sit for hours in school and then come home and sit for hours doing homework.
- Make it lean: Distraction free homework space
Messy desk shows creative mind. It might also show poor organizational skills. Help your child focus with a short introduction in Lean management.
How to do it?
Now, we do not think you should run your family as a startup. But some good practices transfer to daily life as well. The best performers use one or another version of Lean management in their daily work. The key principle here is: reduce the inefficient work and tools, spend less time on irrelevant tasks.
You can start with the learning environment. Discuss with your child, how should their ideal place to work look like. Maybe even draw it together, and put it on the wall for inspiration.
Experts say that ideal homework space would have a clear desk, designated to homework somewhere out in the open (rather than behind a closed bedroom door). It should be the same spot every day. This can even be a small table within your own home office. Set out some colorful supplies to make sure they are prepared.
Why it works: Giving your children a designated homework space means, once they are there, it is time to get down to business. Just like it is hard to feel productive sitting in your bed with the TV in the background, it is hard for kids to be productive when surrounded by toys and technology.
- Try something unexpected: meditation for kids
Trying some unexpected activity together helps your child to be up for challenges and go out of comfort zone. Plus, meditation is the ultimate way that allows you to focus better.
How to do it?
First, set aside some time and set realistic goals. All you need is a couple of minutes a day (think 5-10 minutes) that you can ensure are totally quiet. Next, set the space up. Nothing dramatic, maybe just some quiet music. There are lots of different ways to get started.
Deep breathing techniques are calming and are easy to explain to kids. Alternatively, you can make it a game, like “Let’s see who can be quiet for longer!” and explain why quiet time can be great for your mind and body. Maybe try out some of these cool techniques.
This is a totally risk-free strategy, why not try it out before homework time tomorrow night! This can be helpful for kids as young as three, but it can be more effective for kids already in elementary school, from 1st to 3rd grade and up.
Why it works: Now you could be thinking, “new age mumbo jumbo” but if done right meditation can be a powerful learning tool. It’s been proven time and time again that meditation has real, immediate, and long term benefits for adults. It helps with focus, stress relief, and mindfulness. Nowadays, kids lives can be super hectic and stressful, and it can be hard to find a quiet, tech free moment. Starting this healthy habit with your kids now could set them up for a lifetime of success. Check out this article to find out more.
Do you have your own favorite techniques that help your child focus? Any good tips?
Share them in the comments on Facebook!
P. S. If you think you’d love to try these techniques, you will probably want to try CUJO, too.
We help you focus by taking away the distractions: our parental controls allow blocking services, websites, and apps that you do not want your kids using at certain times, or maybe even ever. Keep them safe by keeping them off of harmful and potentially dangerous web pages.