Do you have any tips for helping kids concentrate on their studies?

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22  Answers

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I am a Waldorf homeschooler, and a pediatric SLP and feel that little ones younger than 7 should not be made to spend long periods of time at tables or doing bookwork/worksheets. Kids under 7 learn best via stories and play. Older kids: keep a clean orderly workspace, limit distractions and background noise, figure out when your child concentrates best (early morning? late morning?) and plan harder lessons at those times.

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My Son, and the other children I work with, are all ages 5 and under. This means that periods of concentration are few and far between. Thankfully, one of the advantages of being a homeschooling mom means that I can choose what we do throughout the day. I find that my Son is much better at focusing on a task in the morning, right after breakfast, and again in the early afternoon. Knowing what times he is naturally ready to sit and concentrate makes it much easier. I simply plan our day accordingly.

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Each child is an individual and needs to have their needs personally addressed. Some children have more energy than others - so shorter lessons intermixed with physical activity is in order. Some children are book worms by nature and just need quiet to study - so a quiet time or quiet nook is in order. And so on.

You want to set your child up for success. So, whatever or however THEY need to learn, it's imperative as a parent to move them into that direction or provide the necessary environment.

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Kids will work hard if they have a desire to learn. My philosophy on learning is to begin early to help kids love what they are learning. Make it interesting and relevant to them. Even those subjects that they hate can be made interesting to them through variety, real-life stories, hands-on activities and more. If you make learning enjoyable, they will hunger to learn more!

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All kids are different and learning the needs of each individual child is my best advice. What has worked for my oldest son will drive my middle son crazy! Get to know your child and don't be scared if they study differently than you do!

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We take frequent exercise breaks and give the kids plenty of time to burn off energy or enjoy some creative play. When they come back to complete school work they are much more focused. I also keep our lesson times short with multiple breaks throughout the day so they have shorter, focused times of study.
I also try to keep their hands busy when we are doing read alouds or when I'm teaching. Clay or homemade playdoh are some of our favorite things. My kids love to work with the dough while I read to them. Keeping their hands busy while we do lessons keeps them occupied so they can sit for longer periods of time.

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We have found that in this age of kids being so technologically based and connected that it can interfere with their studies. Bells, whistles,
and dings coming from all devices at all hours disrupts your train of thought. We have a few strategies to combat this and other distraction
issues.

Our 13 and 10 year old like to listen to music while they work. There are two problems with this. The first problem being that they use
YouTube to do it and thus are searching and switching songs every couple of minutes. To counter this I have insisted that they use one of their
iTunes playlists during their school time or Pandora so that the music is steady and they are not stopping constantly to find and switch songs.

The second issue is the amount of noise and distraction caused to others by the music playing. Thus each of our kids has to wear a headset when
they are on the computer. This actually blocks some of the outer noise for them, and keeps their noise just to their ears and not out
distracting the rest of us.

We also find that with schooling multiple children they can not only be a distraction to the others, but are easily distracted by what the others
are doing. If we are having an issue with this one or more children will move themselves out of the room, either to the dining room table or up
to their desks in their bedrooms.

Lastly I just have two children that have a hard time sitting still and focusing. To combat this I keep work periods short, and then offer an
active break such as jumping on the trampoline, playing an active game on the Wii or Playstation, or if you are my little one she just loves to
run circles in the house and jump over "horse" jumps.

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Start young, if possible, by introducing lots of practical life activities. Activities for care of self, care of the environment, control of movement, and grace and courtesy help children develop order, concentration, control, and independence as preschoolers. Those qualities are important throughout life. Following your child’s interests at any age encourages concentration. I have a post with 5 Ways to Help Your Child Develop Concentration: http://livingmontessorinow.com/2012/06/04/montessori-monday-help-your-child-develop-concentration/

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1- Devote a space to "schooling", whatever that looks like. This has helped my kids focus better and keeps the distractions out. We do not limit learning to this space, but it gives my kids a few more boundaries {rather than trying to work on reading while toys are all around us in the playroom}.
2- Create natural breaks in your schedule {snack time with read aloud, outside to play, time on educational apps and websites, etc.}. as homeschooling is more intense than the time in the classroom. {Because the teacher is more 1:1, kids can't get off-task as easily.}
3- Make learning fun and purposeful. No one likes to concentrate and do things they feel has no purpose. Neither do kids. Yes, there are those times when things just aren't fun or it feels there is no purpose, but this should be the exception; not the rule.
4- Integrate the learning done during "school time" with life. For example, if your child is learning a particular phonics pattern, point out that it's on the menu he's reading right now! This kind of goes along with point #3, but help them to see that they can apply their learning to the every day.

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My son has ADHD, so I'm very familiar with issues of concentration (or lack thereof). Some things that have worked for use include:

1. Minimize distractions
2. Keep to a predictable schedule
3. Allow for "wiggle" breaks
4. Keep things as hands-on as possible
5. Give your student a say in what they learn
6. Feed your student a good breakfast, with protein
7. Offer incentives for completing work on time and without complaining (an hour of media time works well here as an incentive)
8. Classical music playing softly in the background may be helpful, if it's not distracting

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Well, this may not be a popular answer, but we have consequences for dawdling or not paying attention. If students choose to procrastinate then they put their work in a "homework pile" that they get to do after school is over. Usually one time of having to do work while everyone else is playing helps motivate them to pay attention and work diligently during class time!

If someone is having trouble focusing due to noise issues, I let them use headphones to block out the excess noise. I also allow them to go to their room or another comfy place to read since that requires more focus.

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Know your child. Do they need absolute quiet? If so, provide that for them. Do they need background noise? If so, allow them to have it. It is so important to remember that every child is unique. We have to know them individually and make sure we are doing all we can do for them.

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Let them Play and Wiggle! We like to do "park school" which means we pack up the books and head down to the playground. They get to run around a little, and then I take turns working one on one with each child as they all play together. Having the motivation of being able to play helps them focus on the task at hand- plus having something for the little kids to do keeps them out of trouble and cuts back on distractions!

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By sticking to a schedule during the school year helps us all to stay focused during our school day. This includes regular bedtimes, chores, school, and free time. If you get off track, just get back into the regular routine the next morning. We all have days that don't go as planned.

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I think the best way to help kids concentrate is to know their learning style. If they are kinesthetic learners or visual learners or auditory -- discover their best learning style and work with that. Homeschooling allows the freedom and flexibility to teach to each students' individual abilities, which automatically increases concentration and retention of information. Adding interest to lessons with hands-on learning and real life application whenever possible also increases attention and eagerness to learn more.

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Keep it simple, keep it short! Shorter lessons make it less stressful for everyone! I tend to give the information, then ask them what we talked about again. This makes the kids think about what was said so that they can retell it to you. It makes it a little more likely that the information with stick! I have also found that asking wondering questions first will help the child start thinking about the subject. For example, if we were going to talk about botany, I would ask something like "I wonder what a plant eats." I found that my girls love to try and answer my questions. When they cant, it gives me the perfect chance to start the lesson!

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Aside from standing over them saying, "Do your work. Pay attention. Do your work."? Not really. {grin}

As my kids get older, I start moving them toward more independent learning. One thing that has helped a couple of them is a daily checklist. They seem to be able to focus more when they know what needs to be accomplished each day and when they are responsible for checking it off. Usually.

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Know your child's learning style! I was homeschooled my entire life, and I remember quite vividly what worked and what didn't. As a high schooler, my mom gave me hands-on involvement in the choosing of my curriculum. We looked together at books and read Cathy Duffy's "101 Top Picks" from cover to cover. She figured I knew myself at that point better than anyone, and if I helped pick it out, I couldn't complain!

As a child, I was visually driven. I learned best when I was visually stimulated by colors and the images made sense on a page. This is why I can remember hating Saxon math. It was just way too dry and boring for my artistic brain. My daughter is so much like me. I went with Horizons math for her because it is so colorful and fun looking! She has loved it so far!

Does your child concentrate best in a quiet room or at the dining room table? Does she listen best at a desk or on the couch? Does your son perform better on tests when you are sitting next to him, keeping him focused, or leaving him alone? My son needs incentives and rewards to motivate his ability to focus. My daughter could care less about earning a cheap toy, she just wants to finish so she can move on with better things. You don't have to stick with one particular thing... because you homeschool! You get to do whatever speaks best to your particular child. Do what works for them.... oh, and each of your children will probably be different :)

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We try to keep lessons and seatwork short. 10-15 minutes at a time and then we transition to the next activity. It keeps everyone happier and schedules running more smoothly.

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I never set out on my path into adulthood with the goal or intention of becoming a teacher. When homeschooling literally fell into my lap one day by the grace of god I knew that being a homeschooling mom was something that I was meant to do. As a homeschooling mom, I have seen firsthand the passion, drive, concentration (and sometimes lack thereof) that all children have naturally within themselves.

One key factor that took me years to finally figure out is that rather than giving my children outdoor free time to run and play in the afternoons after school it is best for my children if they have this time in the morning prior to school. This allows them to exercise and start their day off at their own pace and leisure so that when school time and studies roll around they are focused, engaged, and driven.

The other tip that I would suggest is to incorporate a lot of hands on learning, no matter what grade level your child is, since it is all too easy to just use bookmarks. My rule of thumbs as a homeschooling mom is that if I find the lesson boring than more than likely my children do as well. Ultimately that means that they tend to tune out the lesson which does no one any good at all. Try and mix it up in your homeschool and perhaps act out the scene in the teacher’s book to make the lesson more engaging and fun.

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I have found, that in my years as being a classroom teacher and homeschool mom, that one of the best ways to enhance and encourage a child's concentration is to provide he/she with a stimulating, hands-on environment. This allows for not only for physical movement, but for the opportunity for the learning to be real, relevant and interesting. We all want our children to be able to express their creativity, imaginations and to be innovative. Research has shown that very little is retained when a child only hears the information. Slightly more is retained when they read the information. Even more is remembered when the information is learned in a hands-on manner. I do my best to combine all three of these methods. In addition, change activities frequently, allow for lots of movement and always let them pursue their interests. They will want to concentrate! :-)

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We always try to make learning fun at our house. But there are those times when they need to focus. At those times we make sure to have a quiet space where they will not be distracted. I make sure we break up focused time with plenty of time to stretch, play, and learn in a more hands-on approach.

Boys especially seem to need more time to get up and stretch. I've also found giving my son some play dough keeps his hands busy and moving so he can focus his mind on his work.

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