My Trick For Getting My Daughter to Focus on Schoolwork Only Takes 5 Minutes

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My daughter is like most children. Innately she loves to learn, but she gets distracted easily. She has the attention span of most 5-year-olds, which is not long. When she is playing, her short attention span is somewhat endearing. But when I am trying to get her to do some homework or practice her piano, getting her to focus can be frustrating on me.

I am not a child educator and am 100 percent winging it when it comes to knowing what is best for my child’s academic growth and development. But after much trial and error, the one thing that has made a world of difference came as a surprise initially.

Thinking back to my days as a student, I recall a lot of sitting at my desk. We had some recess, but most of my days were spent sedentary. Those days got long. As an adult, I realize that I need to move my body and get my blood pumping to clear my mind and get myself ready to focus and take on a task. If I can do this outside, it’s an even greater effect. During workdays, I take many smalls breaks and head out for a five-minute walk around the block or do an abbreviated yoga session when my outfit allows. (No yoga in short skirts!)

Turns out, the same principle applies to my daughter. Before we start any task, whether it is practicing her writing skills or practicing her instrument, we take a five-minute “get the wiggles out” routine. What we do specifically varies, but it always involves some activity that gets the heart pumping and our mouths smiling. From a quick game of Simon Says to an abbreviated race, just five minutes of physical activity helps us both be able to focus on the task at hand.

The physical-activity mandate continues throughout the day. Since she is young and has a shorter attention span, she gets five-minute exercise breaks every 20-to-30 minutes to prevent boredom and losing focus. If possible, we do it outside to get some sunshine and fresh air, but if rainy days are upon us, we make do with indoor activities like obstacle courses and hide and seek. Anything fun and active counts.

Getting a kid to focus at home is challenging. Between the toys, screens, and snacks, there are endless distractions and tempting ways to do anything but the task at hand. But, quick bouts of physical activity and laughter makes any mundane task more enjoyable, and getting the “wiggles” out makes little kiddos much more apt to sitting and doing what they need to do.

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