Are you experiencing post-holiday blues after the end of the long Chinese New Year weekend? You’re not alone! Many people report feeling that they find it hard to return to work after enjoying a long break from their usual routine.
Children who are schooling may also be struggling to stay focused, as the deadlines for their assessments and projects start to close in. With so many looming assignments on the horizon, some children may feel overwhelmed. Often, they can end up leaving their assignments to the last minute, and sometimes, they may even forget to complete or hand in their work!
While procrastinating happens to even the best of us, we slowly learn how to counter it as we get older. However, staying focused on a task is more difficult than ever, especially for children who have grown up closely with technology. With ready access to the internet, especially on our phones, it’s very easy for children to be distracted from their work for hours when they suddenly receive a text from their friend.
Because of this, it’s much harder for parents to simply confiscate their children’s mobile devices and deny them internet access, unlike how older parents would have done before.
The solution to helping your child stay focused thus requires another softer approach. Mainly, you will need to negotiate with your child on helping them to develop new routines and habits that will lead them to stay focused on their assignments for short bursts of time. You can try doing some of the following with your child:
Establish a consistent routine or structure
You can start by establishing a fixed daily routine for your child. For instance, asking them to block out a specific half hour or hour every day, where they will put their full focus into doing their homework or project.
Set a timer
A timer helps to set a reminder for your child that this is their dedicated time for them to work on their assignments, before they can return to play time. It is advisable to start with short periods of time, from as low as 10 to 20 minutes at first, before slowly extending the “focus block” for up to an hour.
Simplify the task list
Often, procrastination is the result of feeling overwhelmed by too many difficult tasks or tasks that we do not like to do. To counter this with your child, it is best to choose one important task that can be broken down into parts and tackled over multiple “focus blocks”. In this way, you can also teach your child how to pace themselves on their work so they do not burn out.
Allow your child to rest
This is the toughest thing to do! Ensure that your child’s “focus block” does not clash with other activities on their schedule. This is so that your child does not get too easily distracted. It is also important that their “focus block” is not too soon after school or other extracurricular activities that may make them too exhausted to concentrate on their work. After all, rest is crucial to helping your child stay focused too!
Create a quiet place
This requires some trial and error to find out what helps your child to perform at their best. Some children may prefer listening to music, or wish to perform certain routines before they can begin focusing without any distractions. You may have to negotiate with other family members to create a quiet time and place for your child to commit themselves to their assignments.
If the home environment is normally too noisy and your child wishes to stay at the library or school to do their work instead, that’s also OK. Remember to check in with them that they are safe and taking care of themselves while they are outside.
Remember the long-term plan
Remind your child that completing their homework early leads to more time to relax and play to their heart’s content with less worries. Establishing such long-term thinking strategies early with your child can also help them in their future when they have to set their own schedules for their work-life balance.
Because not every child works in the same way, you will need to slowly find out which tips will work best for your child. This may be all the more so if your child is facing difficulties with learning at school due to other reasons.
Most importantly, these tips emphasise on having open communication between yourself and your child. You will eventually want your child to feel compelled to learn to focus by themselves without parental supervision, especially as they get older. Starting early is key to helping children stay focused as they sit through long days at school and exams filled with difficult questions. However, it’s also never too late to help your child cultivate good habits for them to develop in the future.