Many kids have difficulty focusing and it can be overwhelming for parents trying to figure out how to help them, especially since 78% of parents believe their child’s grades in school would improve if they only tried harder (National Center for Learning Disabilities). In actuality, poor grades are often not due to lack of effort but could be the result of concentration issues. One in five kids in the US has learning and attention issues (National Center for Learning Disabilities). Kids who have trouble focusing may just need help in finding strategies to accommodate their learning style.
We’ll talk about time blocking and how to create a distraction-free environment for your child, including listening to soundscapes on the Rebel Girls app to improve concentration and planning worksheets to help with focus. We’ll also discuss how the Eisenhower Matrix and Pomodoro Technique can be utilized to prioritize tasks more effectively and manage time more efficiently, leading to more focused and thoughtful work. These techniques can help kids learn to make the most of their time both in school and in their free time, while still having fun.
What is Time Blocking?
Time blocking is a method of planning that allows you to block off time in your schedule and dedicate it solely to one task. It helps kids to focus, rather than feel overwhelmed by all the other tasks they still have to complete (ADHD Online).
For example, you may use the Eisenhower Matrix to decide which tasks take priority, and once you’re in your time block, use the Pomodoro Technique to help you stay focused. By breaking down tasks into smaller chunks and scheduling them into blocks of time, kids are able to better understand the task at hand and can focus on the individual tasks, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the larger project. This helps kids to stay organized, on track, and in control of their work.
To make the best use of their time block, it’s also helpful to create a distraction-free environment to work in.
How to Create a Distraction-Free Environment for Kids to Study In
Creating an environment for kids to study in can be a challenge, whether it’s sharing spaces with siblings, the cacophony of everyday noises, or just having too many screens around. But a dedicated space for your child will help them improve their concentration (Logical Science).
There are some useful strategies that parents can use to help their kids stay focused and on task. It’s important to create an environment that encourages kids to focus. For instance, if they don’t have their own space and are distracted by noises around them, they can listen to soundscapes, like those featured on the Rebel Girls app, to block out the noise.
Creating a distraction-free zone can also be as simple as designating a specific area of the house as a study space. Make sure it is free from distractions like TV, phone, and video games. But this doesn’t mean it has to be boring! To make it more fun, help set up an inspiration board with photos of role models, lists of goals your kids want to achieve, or even inspirational quotes to keep them motivated.
Try to dedicate a specific time or “trigger” for them to use their space so that they build study habits over time (ADHD Online). For example, they could study at 4 pm every day or directly after their afternoon snack. They will begin to associate this time or action with starting their homework. While a trigger to start is important, a reward to finish is also crucial to set these habits. This could be something like a sweet treat or a few extra minutes of screentime.
Setting up a system to track their progress can also be a big motivator. This could be something like a chart or a checklist of tasks that need to be completed. You can even turn it into a game for them to reach bigger rewards. If they do their homework every day that week, they can sleep over at a friend’s house, or if they hit a streak of 100 days in a row, they’ll get a new toy! With these techniques, parents can help their kids stay focused and on task, resulting in more successful study sessions and better grades.
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a great time management tool for both younger and older kids to help them stay organized and productive. It was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and was widely adopted by business schools around the world. The cycle of 25 minutes of work with a five-minute break is especially helpful for kids, as it’s an optimal time of high-level brain activity followed by a short break so they can absorb the information and get their wiggles out (ADDitude Mag).
For middle schoolers, this can be an especially useful tool as they transition to longer and more complicated projects. It can also reduce anxiety as it encourages them to focus on one task at a time, which encourages them to get started, rather than feel overwhelmed and procrastinate. During their breaks, make sure to have fun with healthy snacks or a dance playlist. Alternatively, they can use their break to take a quick walk outside and get some fresh air to clear their head, before diving back into the task.
The Eisenhower Matrix
The Eisenhower Matrix was developed by former President Dwight Eisenhower and is based on the idea of prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance to help focus on what really matters. Kids can use the Eisenhower Matrix to sort tasks into four categories:
- Important and urgent tasks, which should be done first
- Important but not urgent tasks, which should be planned and scheduled
- Not important but urgent tasks, which should be delegated or outsourced
- Not important and not urgent tasks, which should be avoided
For example, if a child has an upcoming science project due but also has to finish extra reading, the science project falls into the important and urgent category, meaning it should be prioritized before the extra reading, which falls into the important but not urgent category.
By using the Eisenhower Matrix, kids can learn to prioritize their tasks and focus on the big important things before potentially wasting time on the unimportant tasks.
Time management and productivity improvement are important skills for kids to learn early on. Time blocking, the Pomodoro Technique, and the Eisenhower Matrix are all popular tools that can help kids stay organized, productive, and ultimately reach their goals. There is no one method to follow, these are just a few examples of widely accepted techniques. The most important thing is to talk with your child and monitor their progress to see what works for them!
Most importantly, these tools can help reduce kids’ anxiety with schoolwork and make them feel more comfortable knowing they can tackle more complicated projects. By breaking each project down into smaller tasks, setting aside dedicated time in a distraction-free environment, and having parents involved in the process, kids can learn to prioritize their tasks, stay on track with their work, and build confidence as they continue to work smarter!