Have you found yourself homeschooling one of those children who is full of energy, and hard to keep focused? Is your child resistant to completing school work, and seems to be lazy? Is your child having a hard time reading words or struggling to understand what he or she reads? Does noise, lights, scents or other sensory input disturb and distract your child?
I have a kid like this myself, and I work with students like these all of the time. From my experience working with these students, I’ve learned some tips on how to help them focus and complete academic assignments successfully. We even have some fun in the process!
1. Be a student of your child. Observe their triggers. What triggers anxiety, tantrums, or lack of cooperation.
2. Create a less distracting environment (especially for tasks that require great focus) Have your child help you set up this space. You may need to adjust the lights. They may need neutral colors. They may need to be in a room where strong scents are blocked off. For children who are distracted by noise, try having them listen to www.simplynoise.com on headphones. Using a study carrel could also help with distractions.
3. Adjust your expectations. Do what is reasonable for your child. Accept them as they are today. Trial and error will help you determine what is a reasonable expectation for your child. Once you determine what is reasonable, be firm and consistent.
4. Short bursts of focused work are better. Use a timer so that they know how long they are required to stay focused. You may need to start with 5 minutes and work your way up incrementally. Taking several little breaks in between activities is very helpful. I’ve also found that several short assignments can keep it interesting for a child that is easily bored.
5. Expect distractions to distract and don’t be frustrated by it.
6. Allow your child to use their own strategies for solving problems or getting work done, even if it takes longer or you don’t understand it. Your child may think differently from you.
7. Train others to work with your child. You need breaks.
8. Praise and reward effort even when the results aren’t stellar. Celebrate every victory no matter how small.
9. If you’re seeing progress or improvements, stay the course and don’t despair. If you’re not seeing improvements, please schedule a consultation with me. I’d love to help.
10. Resist the urge to compare. This can be frustrating to a child who can’t live up to the expectations.
11. You need a strong support network. I’d love to be a part of that network! :0)
12. Know your child’s stalling or avoidance techniques. Here are some avoidance techniques that I’ve observed: going to the bathroom, whining, crying, hunger, making excuses to keep from starting assignments, complaining about physical discomfort.
- first check for legitimate concerns
- ask your child why they aren’t starting or completing the assignment
- adjust the amount of work or difficulty of the assignment to just below what you believe is reasonable. They need to experience success.
13. When you’re out of patience, STOP. Take a break, or change activities.
14. It helps to set clear expectations for your child. Tell them what they need to accomplish. Make sure they understand.
15. Start your day with exercise and give them exercise breaks.
16. Give them the assignments that require the most focus and effort when they are the most alert. That’s usually early in the morning.
17. Resist the urge to rescue. Doing things for them is easier in the short term, but in the long run it hurts the child. Take the extra time to help them do things for themselves. Press through the whining. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
See your doctor or nutritionist to check for food allergies or sensitivities. You may also want to have their primitive reflexes checked, as well as checking into sensory processing problems. Check out the book The Disconnected Kid for more details on understanding these children and for a scientifically based program that can help your child to overcome their challenges.
I know that these kids aren’t easy to homeschool or parent, but they are worth your time and effort. They are wonderfully gifted kids who make this world a much more beautiful place. Embrace their uniqueness. These children often require lots of patience. Stay the course. Keep the end goal in mind, and contact me if you’d like me to join your support team.