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Five Factors That Impact Your Child’s Focus (& How To Recognize Them)


Student concentrating on homework

In a world full of distractions, it’s not uncommon for students to have trouble staying focused, especially at a young age. But as students get older and have more homework and responsibilities, they need to be able to focus their mind on a task and finish it.

Concentration and focus are muscles that requires regular exercise to strengthen. Some students may be naturally stronger in this area than other students, but all students can learn strategies that will help improve their ability to focus. After all, focus and concentration are critical skills for students—school and extracurricular activities require students to concentrate for long periods of time, not to mention when they enter the working world.

Finding Focus

Most students are able to concentrate easily on activities that are fun and enjoyable but lose their ability to concentrate on activities that appear more boring or difficult. There are also other factors that impact your child’s focus that you may not realize—like the amount of sleep he or she is getting or even a messy workspace.

Before helping your child sharpen focus skills, it’s important to understand the factors that make focusing difficult in the first place.

Learn more about the most common factors that impact your child’s ability to focus, how to recognize when it’s happening, and tips to help your child overcome.

Five Factors That Impact Your Child’s Ability to Focus

Anxiety Or Stress

When students multitask or focus on too many things at once they can experience stress or anxiety. As stress increases, the ability to focus becomes much more difficult. Sometimes the feeling of having to focus and get work done is the cause of stress for students, which may become a self-defeating cycle.

What This Looks Like:

  • Procrastination and a reluctance to go to school
  • Difficulty concentrating or completing schoolwork
  • Short-term behavioural changes, like mood swings or acting out
  • Acting withdrawn or spending a lot of time alone

Tips For Staying Focused:
If your child seems stressed and frustrated, sit down with him or her and figure out what is causing the stress. The causes of school stress can be different for each student, but can all lead to the same negative impacts on academic performance. Encourage your child to close his or her eyes and take deep breaths until his or her mind clears and he or she is ready to focus again.

If your child has too much to do between school, activities, and responsibilities, sit down and rank each in order of priority. It’s important to make sure your child has enough time to get everything done—but every student needs a break from school work to avoid burning him or herself out.

Eating Habits

What your child is eating can have a big impact on his or her ability to focus. Eating fast food over healthy, well-balanced meals, and skipping out on physical activity result in low energy—making it difficult for students to focus on what needs to get done.

What This Looks Like:

  • Skipping breakfast
  • Lack of motivation
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Trouble paying attention
  • Persistent low mood or forgetfulness

Tips For Staying Focused:
If your child is heading to school hungry, he or she is more likely to be distracted than learning-ready. Make sure your child eats breakfast every day and is eating healthy, well-balanced meals full of protein and healthy fats. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega 3-rich foods are all foods that will help improve your child’s concentration.

External Distractions

Cell phones, messy workspaces, and chatty classmates are some of the top distractors for students. Some children have a harder time than others filtering out these distractions, making paying attention to the teacher more challenging.

What This Looks Like:

  • Disorganized homework
  • Frustration with school work
  • Cluttered workspace
  • Excessive cellphone usage
  • Distracting others in the classroom

Tips For Staying Focused:
It’s difficult for students to avoid distractions when they are right in front of them, so it’s best to create a workspace where they can focus and set themselves up for success. Cell phones should be set to “Do Not Disturb” mode while doing homework or while in class.

When your child is having trouble focusing at home, encourage him or her to get up and take a short break from what he or she is working on. For classroom distractions where getting up might not be an option, something as simple as your child closing his or her eyes and taking a few deep breaths can help refocus the mind.

Disorganized and incomplete notes can be another a big concentration-killer for students. If your child is struggling with organization, provide him or her with tools and strategies that will help. Knowing how to take effective study notes ensures that your child can spend his or her time reviewing a topic, rather than searching for missing information. Agendas and calendars are great for keeping students accountable for due dates and help prioritize work.

Boredom & Lack Of Challenge

For some students, what is being taught in class isn’t challenging enough to keep them engaged. This may result in a loss of interest and they may stop paying attention altogether.

What This Looks Like:

  • Understands concepts faster than the rest of the class
  • Routinely achieves high grades
  • Understands the material but receives lower grades
  • Doesn’t seem excited about school

Tips For Staying Focused:
For those who need a bit more of a challenge, enrichment tutoring programs can be the key to getting back on track. Enrichment programs are meant for students who quickly understand class content and, as a result, feel bored at school. These students often need more advanced material to feel excited about (and engaged with) learning.

Learn more about the benefits of enrichment programs and find out how Oxford Learning can help here.

Mastering The Art Of Focus

Students, especially younger ones, are full of energy—so it’s not realistic to expect them to focus completely and not get distracted at all. However, it is important to provide your child with techniques for improving his or her concentration skills, starting at a young age.
Once you have determined the underlying factors related to your child’s inability to focus, you’ll know exactly how to help build his or her concentration muscles.

For more tips and strategies on how to help improve your child’s focus, check out these resources:
10 Reasons Your Child Can’t Concentrate In School (That Aren’t ADD)
How To Study Without Getting Distracted: Tips From The Experts
4 Questions Your Child Can Keep In Mind To Curb Distractions
Fighting For Focus: How To Help Your Child Focus In School (And At Home)

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