How does Focus work?
Focus is one of the most important thinking skills for academic success, as it helps kids begin tasks without procrastinating, maintain their attention in the presence of distractions, and continue tasks through to completion. Focus is very helpful when children are engaged in activities that require sustained practice in order to improve, and it is useful for developing the skills needed for playing an instrument or learning a new sport.
Kids with good Focus skills:
- Are unlikely to waste time at the beginning of a test, chore, or other task.
- Easily complete chores and homework without interruption.
- Have little problem achieving long-term goals.
- Can read a lengthy novel or write a book report.
- Can sit and complete their homework in a timely fashion.
- Continue to work on tasks that may be boring or dull, such as chores.
Kids with underdeveloped Focus skills:
- Get up and down frequently while doing their homework.
- Are easily distracted by noise and activities surrounding them.
- Frequently complain about being bored.
- Have difficulty sitting though an entire meal.
- Procrastinate and have difficulties getting started on tasks.
- Turn in incomplete or hastily-completed schoolwork.
- Often don’t finish what they start.
Improve Focus Skills
These are some general strategies and ideas for helping kids to improve their Focus skills.
- Follow boring and mundane tasks with interesting and stimulating tasks. Your child may be more inclined to complete uninteresting tasks when they can look forward to doing something they enjoy after the task is completed, such as going outside to play after finishing their homework or having dessert after they are done eating their dinner.
- Provide external support for your child that tapers off over time. This could involve coaching them through their first few homework problems or prompting them to start a chore at home. Support could also consist of helping them to form a list of the smaller tasks that each larger task entails, and to then assist them in identifying which of these tasks should be worked on first.
- Encourage your child to participate in activities that require their full attention. For example, in baseball, have them play catcher, pitcher, or first base. These positions will require them to sustain his attention more than those in the outfield. In music, they should be encouraged to play instruments that are a regular part of the band or orchestra rather than something like cymbals, which are rarely used.
- Reward stick-to-it-iveness. When your child experiences the rewards of sticking with a difficult task and completing it, they will be more motivated to do so again the next time. Offering treats, privileges, or simply verbal praise when chores are satisfactorily completed without prompting, can be very rewarding.
Focus and Academic Skills
Focus is a core skill for learning academic skills and school-based information. If students cannot sustain their attention and effort on a task, they are likely to encounter a great deal of difficulty when learning complex material. Before students can ace their next test or apply other thinking skills such as Organization and Working Memory, they need to be able to tune out distractions and pay attention to what they are being taught in the classroom.
- Focus helps children sustain their attention while reading.
- Focus prevents kids from becoming distracted by their thoughts or external events.
- Focus helps children to re-read text when necessary in order to fully comprehend the material.
- Focus helps children to sustain their attention on a multi-step math problem.
- Focus helps children to stay focused when solving a word problem so that they can recall all of the information and steps necessary to solve it.
- Focus prevents kids from getting distracted in the middle of multi-step problems.
- Focus helps kids be persistent when faced with difficult math concepts that require extended instruction.
- Focus aids children with the process of putting thoughts into writing as ideas come to them.
- Focus helps kids sustain their effort when doing physical tasks such as writing or typing.Focus helps kids to know where and how to get started on writing essays, book reports, and other assignments.
Focus and Digital Play
Playing video games, searching the Internet, trying out the newest app, or Facebooking a friend demands a variety of Thinking Skills. Proficiency with any of these digital tools requires the ability to apply skills such as Planning, Organization, Working Memory, or Self-Awareness. For children, the attraction of video games and technologies makes them an ideal teaching tool for practicing game-based skills and learning to apply them to school and daily activities.