Staying Focused in the Final Days of School

Published April 29, 2022

You’ve seen all the signs: the inability to focus. The restlessness. The daydreaming. We’re talking, of course, about “summer-itis.” Summer is just around the corner and so is the break from school that comes with it. And when you’re a kid, that’s an absolutely huge distraction. But remember, these last few weeks in the classroom still count! So, here are a few ways to help your kids finish the school year strong.

Embrace the Nice Weather

The air is getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and the sounds of summer are starting to fill the air. That can be a pretty tough shift for any kid to ignore. So, think about leaning in and using that nice weather as a reward for finishing their assignments. Or, better yet, find a picnic table or a nice, shady tree somewhere and let them do their homework outdoors. That way, they can scratch the itch to get outside without ever losing sight of their priorities.

Get Your Kids Involved in Sports

Playing outside, as discussed, is really great for kids. And you can amplify the benefits of playing outside by getting them involved in organized sports. According to The Institute of Medicine, active kids performed better on standardized tests. They also paid closer attention and were better at processing information. So, what appears to be a distraction from academics might actually be helping them in the classroom.

Create a Balanced Schedule

As an adult, you’ve seen how the day can quickly get away from us. Well, the same is true for kids. Try making a schedule that embraces the nice weather in a balanced way. Maybe they do homework from 4:30 – 5:00, then get outside from 5:00 – 5:30. This sort of scheduling achieves three things:

  1. It breaks studying into more manageable chunks.
  2. It locks in “study time” to make sure it actually happens.
  3. It creates the sort of “work hard/play hard” balance that makes being a kid so much fun.

Mental Warm-Up Games

Let’s say your child is staring out of the window and daydreaming about their big summer plans. It can be a little bit jarring to go from that mental paradise straight into their homework. So, consider a few warm-up games that build a ramp into learning. For instance, have you ever played one those “spot the difference” puzzles with your kids? You can see an example here. These games are fun, engaging, and most of all, they really help get those gears turning.

Ask About their Dreams

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” We’ve all heard the question a hundred times. And it’s a common one for a reason. Kids who set goals showed an increased likelihood of future success. So, have you ever invited your kids to dream a little bit? Encourage them to identify their dream job, then explain that they can make their dream a reality through hard work, determination, and classroom focus. Connecting those dots can really help them buckle down during the home stretch. Read more about setting goals with your kids here.

Box Breathing

Before it’s “homework time,” walk your kids through something called “box breathing.” It’s basically a form of meditation, but also very easy, even for kids. You breathe in for four seconds, then hold that breath for another four. Then you exhale for four seconds, and hold it again for four. You might have to shorten those four seconds to two or three seconds for kids. But if they do that for a few cycles, that can increase their level of focus, concentration, and help tame ADHD. Read more about the benefits of meditation for kids here.

Get Involved

Try to keep up with your child’s assignments and really hold them accountable. Are they doing their homework? And are they giving it their full effort? You also might help them with basic project management skills, like breaking their tasks into manageable chunks and looking ahead. Everyone’s busy, especially parents. But school is a team sport, especially at this age. Kids are ultimately responsible for their own success, but encouragement from you is their secret weapon!

Summer vacation is quickly coming into view, which means students everywhere are finding it tough to focus. So, try to help them in the home stretch by embracing the nice weather in a controlled way, giving them a little encouragement, and trying to grease the wheels of studying with a couple of warm-up exercises. Because buckling down—even when it’s hard—is an important part of life, and the last few weeks of school give them a great opportunity to develop that skill.