Keeping your children on task in their schooling can be a challenging job, but there are ways to encourage productivity that will help both you and your children. A couple weeks ago, we asked moms on our Facebook page to share their tips for encouraging their kids to stay on task during the school day. We thought we’d share some of their suggestions with you here!
Keep Them Accountable to Each Task
Some children may struggle to focus if you are not beside them. One mom commented on our Facebook post that her daughter works better when she is not alone in her room. She says, “Mine usually does her work . . . with me while I am working and she zips right through it. In her own room she gets distracted and it’s harder.” Another way to help them be responsible for their own time management is to schedule checkpoints throughout the day when you will review their progress. You can set specific goals for them to work on in between check-ins so they know what to expect. If they’re not making those goals, you can also see if they’re struggling. You’ll know when they need help and encouragement to continue.
We all know that distractions eat away at a productive school day. Electronics, toys, siblings, pets—all of these can become distractions. How do you eliminate screen-related distractions if you use screens for schoolwork? One way to remove distractions for children who do school on electronic devices is to block pop-up notifications on the screen they are working on. You can also add accountability by making sure the screen they’re working on faces the center of the room. Other distractions such as as toys, games, siblings, or pets can be just as disruptive as electronics. Instead of removing these distractions entirely, offer them during breaks as rewards for hard work. Some moms encourage these other interests by incorporating their children’s favorite games or topics into their lessons.
Offer Regular Breaks
We’ve all had that day when things never seem to stop or slow down. At the end of the day, we may actually scream if anyone asks us to do one more thing. Children will feel the same way when endlessly confined to school work. Downtime is an important part of everyone’s day. One mom shared how she breaks up her kids’ days, “For every 3 items on their list (they have a daily checklist showing all the school they need to do that day) they get a break to play. They seem to focus and stay on task so much better knowing exactly how much they have to do before each break.”
Try setting goals and tasks to work on in short intervals and then give a short break before working again. One productivity method recommends 25 minutes working hard without distractions and then a 5 minute break. During breaks, encourage your kids to stretch, eat a snack, go to the bathroom, or anything else that makes them get out of their seat. I use this method frequently to stay on task and get more done in a shorter amount of time.
Offer Encouragement for Completing a Task
In addition to suggesting frequent breaks, one mom recommends “words of affirmation and snacks they enjoy during the hard parts of the day like Math and Science.” Encouragement can be a powerful tool for keeping your children on task! My piano teacher would give prizes after her students gained points from practicing, passing songs, and playing in front of people. I looked forward to reaching those prizes and would work harder to get there. Remind your children that you recognize and appreciate their hard work. Along with verbal affirmation, rewards like snacks will encourage them and help them focus! Another mom told us she gives her daughter something to look forward to at the end of the day. She says that, during the winter months, getting “to play outside—sledding, skating, skiing, building snow forts, etc.—when the work is done” is “good motivation.” Setting specific goals for your children to meet and then giving them incentives for reaching them can be very effective.
Children may struggle to stay on task no matter how hard we try. But don’t be discouraged! You know your children and their needs. Embrace the journey and remember that homeschool education is about your children and not a to-do list.