Distance Learning: Great Ways to Help Increase Focus at Home

For some kids virtual learning is a breeze. They are able to sit for hours and focus on their teacher and complete assignments with ease. For many, however, virtual learning can be frustrating and overwhelming. Some struggle with grasping academic concepts remotely, while others have difficulties with technology. In this post, however, I am going to focus on the students that struggle with maintaining focus and attention.

If your child struggled staying on-task and focused IN school then chances are they are having an even harder time learning virtually. Being asked to stare at a screen all day is daunting but it can be even more difficult for an ADHD child (or any child with attentional issues). There are also some kids who do great in school but just can’t focus at home.

Reef ReliefMy son has really struggled with virtual learning. He has a very hard time getting started, sitting still and staying engaged. I have tried many ways to help him. Some were successful and some were not. Also, what worked one day did not always work the next day. As a school psychologist, I have also provided tips for parents and teachers to help children with attentional issues. Here are some of the strategies that have been the most helpful for myself and others. I have included some Amazon affiliate links to make your planning and shopping easier.

Great Ways to Help Increase Focus

Create a Distraction Free Work Space

I know it is nearly impossible to eliminate all distractions at home but there are many things we have control over. First, try to set up your child’s work space in the quietest area of your house. Next, make sure they don’t have access to the television or video game consoles while learning. Last, remove additional distractions such as their Switch, toys, and any devices not needed for learning. Make sure they have headphones too so they can listen to their teacher without other auditory distractions getting in the way of their learning.

Provide Flexible Seating

While some kids do well at a desk or table, many kids do best with a variety of seating options. For example, some kids do well when sitting on a pillow on the floor while others like to lay down on their bellies while they work. Some kids even do best while standing. Allowing your kids to complete work in a way that is most comfortable for them will help increase focus and productivity. Here are some other options you can get on Amazon:

Provide Fidgets

Some kids need to keep their hands busy in order to focus. No, I don’t mean give them a fidget spinner, but they may need something that provides tactile feedback. An easy fidget is velcro. It can be attached under a table or even made into a bracelet. Another great fidget is a rubber band. You can attach a large band on the bottom of your child’s seat or desk that they can kick with their feet. Here are some more fidgets you can try:

Another great option is the UPside Delivered Box. It offers tools, advice, and tips to help kids cope with stress and anxiety at home. By decreasing stress, you will also increase focus and attention. The box is filled with tools to help kids stay calm and self-regulate including fidgets and a writing journal. Visit their website for more information.

UPside Delivered Begin BoxDevelop a Reward System

To keep kids engaged and focused, I highly recommend developing a reward system at home. This can be a simple sticker chart or a more focused behavior plan. Rewards do not have to be expensive either. Many kids get excited over simple stickers and pencils. The beauty of being home, however, means you can also use video games, ice cream, or television as rewards!

Allow for Physical Movement Breaks

Get the kids GoNoodling this summer between academic activities!

Kids need to move! Physical movement helps them regulate and release excess energy. By allowing movement breaks, kids may show increased focus during learning. Breaks can include jumping jacks, yoga, wall push ups, or even a dance party. I recommend making a list of fun exercises your kids can do on their own. During break time, they can pick from their list and check them off as they do them. Providing index cards with pictures of the exercises are also a great idea. 

Pin the Teacher

This is a simple but very effective way of decreasing distractions during virtual learning. On Google Meet, guests can pin the person they want to focus on. That person will then be the only one they see on the screen. Some kids get overly distracted by peers so pinning the teacher can definitely help improve their focus.

Use Break Out Rooms

Google Meet has another amazing feature, break out rooms! Teachers can set up break out rooms for kids to go to with an aide or co-teacher when they are having a hard time focusing and engaging. While in a break out room, students can literally take a break with a staff member which can include deep breathing exercises, physical movement, or even drawing a picture. Break out rooms are also great for small group instruction and independent work, especially for students that struggle with focusing in a large virtual class session.

Have a Snack

Little Bites

Many kids who seem inattentive and fidgety are really just hungry! When kids don’t have a balanced breakfast, they can lack focus in school and at home. Before starting their virtual learning day, make sure the kids have a good breakfast. It is important for them to also have healthy snacks available to them throughout the day. For some kids, just the act of chewing helps them focus so maybe have some gum available too.

Take a Break

Probably the BEST way to increase focus is to make sure to take a break! It isn’t good for anyone to be in front of a screen all day, especially kids. Most teachers offer fun brain breaks throughout the day but some kids may need a few more than what is offered. If you see your child fidgeting more than usual, have them take a quick break. That break can be to take a lap around the house, take the dog for a walk, put together a puzzle, or just take some deep breaths.

I hope you find these tips helpful in improving your child’s focus at home and increase academic success!!

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