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How to Help Your Child Stay Focused at School

by Oubria Tronshaw

On average, college graduates earn about $1 million more over their lifetime than adults without high school diplomas, according to 2011 statistics by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means that the effort, time and focus your child puts into her schoolwork today will likely have long-term effects on her quality of life. In addition to being encouraging and supportive, help your child focus by emphasizing that hard work literally pays off.

Set high expectations for your child. Talk to her early about what type of future you think she deserves, and how focusing on school and exercising self-discipline will help secure success. Tell her you believe in her, and that she can do anything she puts her mind to, including focusing and performing well in school.

Make learning fun. Read to your child from the time she is very young, so she’ll associate education with familiarity, routine and love. Take her to museums, study and observe nature and teach her about her community and history. Encourage her curiosity, and stress the importance of finding the answers to her questions. Observe her interests and provide outlets for her talents.

Provide your child with a study environment at home that complements the study environment at school. Her study space should include a clean desk or table, a comfortable chair, a window for gazing off in deep thought, and access to the Internet and other reference materials. No TV or loud music either -- keep the house quiet and free of distractions during her study time, so she can concentrate.

Lead by example. Your child will likely do what you do faster than she’ll do what you say, so make sure that what you say and what you do match up. Demonstrate the ability to focus on your education in your own life. Commit to lifelong learning. Let your child see you reading and writing in dedicated concentration. Talk about what you’re learning. Talk about your goal, successes and failures. Show your child that education is a journey, not a destination.

Give helpful feedback. Sure your child is brilliant, but if that’s all you ever tell her, she might give up when she’s challenged because she doesn’t feel smart anymore, according to ParentingSimply.com. Instead of putting her on a pedestal that she’s afraid to fall from, highlight your child’s more tenacious qualities. Affirm her efforts, consistency, flexibility and improvements. Help her find value in trying, rather than only success. Show her the importance of failing and learning from her mistakes.

Let your kid be a kid. All work and no play does indeed make Jill a dull girl -- or perhaps a girl who likes to cut loose in school because her parents aren’t around to squelch her fun. Balance study with recreation so when it’s time to focus, your child is ready. Let her run around and burn energy after school before sitting down to do homework, or give her time to stretch her legs and day dream. If your child isn’t pressured, she’ll be less likely to resist -- whether at home or at school.

About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.

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