How to Help Your Student Focus Better in the Classroom

Does your student struggle with paying attention during class time? Here are some helpful tips parents can use to address focus issues.

1. Sleep schedule. Many students simply don’t get enough sleep, which leads them to attend school feeling tired and unrested. According to the CDC, 60% of middle schoolers and 70% of high schoolers don’t get enough sleep – so this is an excellent place for parents to start making some adjustments! The National Sleep Foundation has published these recommended guidelines for each age group:

  • 1-2 years old: 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours
  • 6-13 years old: 9-11 hours

Not surprisingly, sleep issues become increasingly common with older students (middle and high school). In addition, the shift towards online learning due to the pandemic often allows students to submit assignments with far more generous deadlines than they would normally have in the classroom (for example, due by midnight). Unfortunately, this tends to compound problems with sleep issues and procrastination as students get used to working on assignments late at night. We recommend setting a bedtime routine for your child, and it’s helpful to turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue light from the screens can stimulate us further and make it harder to fall asleep, so we recommend reading a book instead!

2. Diet. Nutrition is a large cause of attention issues, as many students prefer to snack on junk food throughout the day. Chips, candy, and soda may taste delicious, but they aren’t going to provide lasting energy throughout the day. Parents can try to encourage their kids to eat healthy foods by preparing nutritional snacks ahead of time for easy access during the day. For more healthy lunch tips for kids, click here!

3. Academic difficulties. Students may have trouble focusing simply because the material is not relevant to them, and therefore it’s hard to pay attention. As we all know, it’s more difficult to focus on something when we don’t find the topic interesting – and students are no exception. When it comes to academics, a common reason kids aren’t able to engage is because they don’t understand the material – and as a result, the subject matter isn’t interesting. A tutor may be able to help determine if there are any learning gaps in your child’s academic knowledge, as closing these gaps can often help attention issues dramatically. Academic difficulties can often be identified during our free consultation.

4. Personal issues. In some cases, lifestyle and routine changes (like the suggestions above) are not going to suffice. If your child isn’t improving, there may be other factors at play. We recommend talking to your child’s teacher as well as their doctor. Physical and mental health issues can contribute heavily to attention issues – and although it’s definitely a good idea to minimize external factors by making lifestyle changes first, some attention difficulties may require professional assistance. If you find that your child’s attention issues aren’t improving by making adjustments to their weekly routine, talk to their doctor to help determine the next step.

Attention issues can be frustrating for parents and students, but don’t lose hope! Most attention problems aren’t permanent, and many students are able to overcome focus issues by taking the proper steps to rule out common factors first.