10 Routines to Improve Focus at School & Home
Getting kids into a schoolyear routine takes some work. As a result of long, lazy summers with no real focus, many students struggle to restart productive regimens and habits. But don’t worry – it can be done! Creating a positive environment with a set, daily agenda helps improve focus and gets kids back on track.
It’s All About Routine
As parents, we all know what happens when kids fall out of their routine. First, expectations are lacking, so they get confused, stressed and anxious. Their feelings may overwhelm them and they lack concentration. Then, they get out of sorts and tired. Finally, sibling arguments, temper tantrums and a general lack of purpose often ensue.
But there’s hope! Getting youngsters back on a schedule and into a productive routine can make a huge difference in their overall demeanor.
With routines, children feel safe, secure and accomplished. Kids with challenging behaviors often stop acting out once they’re back on schedule and incur some self-discipline. Additionally, parents find their children perform better in school, have more energy and stay mentally sharp and focused.
Disruptions to Routine
If we’re not careful, school breaks can result in disruption of routine and lack of focus for kids. However, other life situations affect children similarly.
See if any of these sound familiar in your household, either during the schoolyear or while your kids are on break:
- Lack of Sleep
- Information Overload
- Seasonal or Time Change
- Noise or Other Distraction
- Holiday Disruption
Most parents have experienced these situations with their kiddos at one time or another. We recognize the disruption they cause in our families. But learning to combat each one as they occur helps keep students focused, happy and productive, both at school and at home.
Routines for Improving Focus
Looking for ways to improve your children’s focus and make them better citizens and students? We’re here to help!
As parents and educators ourselves, we understand school can be challenging – and kids get stuck in old, unproductive habits. But by using these 10 fresh ideas to establish routines and improve focus, you’ll equip your students with the tools they need to become successful…in school, at home and in life.
1. Set up a Dedicated Workspace
A quiet, positive environment goes a long way for students who struggle with focus. Along those lines, letting kids choose where they work at home each day and allowing them to make it part of their routine helps them buy in. The details don’t really matter; just make sure it’s free of distraction to help them stay focused daily. The more they practice focusing at home, the more focused students will be at school, as well.
2. Break Down Routines
When giving your children instructions at home, start with one thing at a time. Instead of saying, “Go brush your teeth, put on your pajamas and go to bed,” try “Go brush your teeth” instead. Then offer additional instructions as they finish. This helps keep kids from getting overwhelmed, especially at the end of a long day when they’re tired and unfocused, and helps them initiate good habits. When working on homework assignments, breaking them down into smaller steps, one at a time, will help your students gain comprehension and stick with it until the work is done.
3. Make Lists
For some of us, making daily lists and checking things off as we complete them gives us a great sense of accomplishment. Well, guess what? This goes for children, too…especially those who struggle with memory. Therefore, when assigning your kiddos multiple tasks, consider pulling out the sticky notes and helping them make a list of everything they need to do, from homework to chores and exercise. It will help them stay organized and productive as they establish new routines!
4. Avoid Procrastination
Sometimes, getting started is the hardest part of any task. Teach your children the satisfaction of making those first, routine steps toward completion right away. Model organization, doing your best and not letting other things interfere with your work. When youngsters complete things on time or early, reward them with praise, love and time spent together. Conversely, encourage kids who get started late with promises of small rewards they deem valuable for changed behavior. With time, maturity and a positive environment, they’re likely to leave the train of procrastination far behind.
5. Take Frequent Breaks Daily
Depending on age, kids are only capable of focusing for short periods of time. So when they’re working at home, teach them to take occasional breaks to refresh their minds and bodies. If they’re doing homework, set a timer and let them do something they enjoy until it goes off, like playing a quick game of cards or calling a friend. If they’re in the middle of chores, or working on something with a parent, encourage them to run outside and play, read a book or color a picture for that short time. Just make sure they return to business as soon as time is up.
6. Include Routine, Physical Activity
When work is done, improve blood flow, oxygenation and thinking skills with a short game of hoops, soccer or badminton. If your family owns a pool table or ping-pong equipment, get kids active and moving playing those sports. Encourage the kids to walk or play with the family dog. Better yet, head to the pool at your community rec center for an afternoon dip. Any way you cut it, physical activity benefits everyone in the family and improves overall focus.
7. Get Creative
When life gets hectic, refocus kids in a positive way with relaxing activities like coloring, word searches and puzzles. Break out the art supplies and challenge kids to craft something new. Let them make thank-you notes for their favorite teachers. These types of exercises get their creative juices flowing and teach their brains to enjoy focused learning.
8. Play Memory Games
Games like I-Spy and Simon Says challenge kids’ memories, which in turn helps them focus. Crosswords, jigsaw puzzles and Sudoku work, as well. Basically, any activity that requires children to hold and remember information promotes focus, so incorporating them into students’ daily lives can be of great benefit.
9. Incorporate Healthy Snacks
Remember that physically and mentally active kids require good nutrition for energy, growth and well-being. So try to limit their intake of unhealthy foods, opting instead for healthier options such as:
- Celery with peanut butter and raisins
- Hummus with whole-wheat crackers
- Yogurt with fruit
- Nuts and seeds
- Trail mix
- Protein smoothies (with limited sugar)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Carrots with Ranch dressing
- Apples with peanut butter
10. Practice Mindfulness
When kids get frustrated or overwhelmed, teach them the art of mindfulness. This encourages them to slow down, relax, take their time and notice things around them. As a side effect, it also distracts them from those negative thoughts and emotions they’re experiencing. Start by asking students to close their eyes, take deep breaths and picture something pleasurable, like their favorite vacation spot or something they really enjoy doing. All it takes is a couple of minutes practicing this new habit to refocus the brain and get kids going again.
Setting Kids on the Right Path
We hope you’ll take these suggestions to heart and help set up your kids for success. With some good habits and routines, limited disruptions and these tips for improvement, you can enrich your children’s focus and learning experience.
If you’d like a little more help, consider KidzToPros’ afterschool programs. We teach students valuable skills in STEM, the arts and sports – and offer the social and emotional support they need to advance, as well. Check out our popular afterschool courses today!