fbpx

Homework is one of the most concentration-intensive activities students encounter. This is due to its unstructured and unstimulating nature compared to an interactive lesson being given in a group academic setting. Students with ADHD may have difficulty remaining focused on homework as the concentration required may be difficult for them to maintain. Both teachers and parents can make contributions to assist in the homework completion process and make it easier for their students.

Teachers assign homework as an opportunity for students to learn. However, homework can be a source of frustration in students with ADHD, especially when it is presented as a long, laborious and unstructured assignment. As a teacher/instructor, here are some ways you can present homework to students to promote focus and improve performance.

1.  Assign smaller quantities of work at a time.

It’s easy for students with ADHD to get frustrated with homework, which can negatively impact both their concentration and their will to complete the assignment.1 To circumvent this issue, teachers can assign smaller amounts of homework to their students at a time, which will allow students to focus for shorter durations and allow them to spend more time on challenging problems without being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the work they have yet to complete.

2.  Give students time during school to complete homework.

Given that school is a place with relatively minimal distractions that students are expected to concentrate on schoolwork, students with ADHD may have an easier time completing homework while in school. Students already associate the school environment with completing work and staying focused, so some students are significantly more productive at school than they are at home. During this time, they will be able to ask teachers questions if they’re confused about any assignment, and they’ll be surrounded by others completing the same assignment—both of which may keep them focused. During this given homework time, teachers should check in with the student to make sure they are supported and on task.

3.  Provide abundantly clear instructions for homework assignments. 

It can be difficult for students with ADHD to get started on homework assignments that have either abstract or confusing directions, as frustration can build when they don’t understand what the assignment is asking of them. Providing students with clear instructions, ideally both written and verbal, can help reduce this confusion around the homework assignment. The less confusion around the homework assignment, the easier it may be for the student to remain motivated to complete it.

While homework is occasionally done at school or in other environments, most of a student’s workload has to be completed once they return home for the day. As a parent or guardian, here are some techniques you can employ to create an environment that encourages  concentration and improves your student’s home study routine.

1.  Dedicate ample and consistent time every day to completing homework.

Most students with ADHD need routine and consistency in order to be productive and stay focused. It can be challenging for students to block off time every day specifically for t homework, especially if their schedule varies throughout the week. As such, providing students with consistent homework schedules, during which they are given ample time to complete all assignments, may make the transition to homework from other activities less distressing.2 They will reach a point where they can manage their time better on their own, but sometimes they need your guidance!

2.  Allow time for frequent breaks.

Another challenge that students with ADHD face is concentrating for extended periods of time.1 Students may be most focused when their work time is separated by short, frequent breaks.. These short breaks should be about 5-10 minutes in duration, as it gives them enough time to walk around, get a snack, and mentally separate from the work; luckily,  this is not long enough for the momentum of concentration to be lost completely. A popular study method, dubbed the “Pomodoro Method’,’ employs this technique. The Pomodoro Method divides work times into periods: students study for a set amount of  time and then take a short, timed break. (The most common example is 50 minutes of study time followed by a 10-minute break, though there are many other permutations of the method.)

3.  Manufacture a good space for the student to complete work.

While doing homework, it’s easy for students with ADHD to get distracted by all the other stimuli present in their study space (TV, video games, other electronic devices, food, friends, family, loud noises, favorite toys, etc.). Trying to minimize distractions and provide the best conditions for concentration (keeping the room at a comfortable temperature, ensuring there’s enough light in the room, limited auditory distractions) can help the student better focus on the homework in front of them. When optimizing your student’s space, it’s important to remember that everyone’s ideal study space is different. The most common example of this variation is that some students like to work with background noise, while others prefer silence.3 Allow your student to help you design their study space so that it’s best suited to their preferences.

4.  Develop a “study partner” routine.

Study environments in which others are also doing homework, studying, or reading can be the most effective tactic to help students with ADHD maintain their concentration.3 It can be a source of distraction for a student to know that while they’re studying, people in the next room are engaged in a more appealing activity. Alternatively, it can promote concentration if there are multiple people studying in the same place at the same time, as it can boost accountability for the work to be completed and prevent thoughts of missing out on preferred activity.

Recap:

The homework process can be challenging for students with ADHD, but there are several actionable steps both teachers and parents can take to prevent distraction and promote concentration and productivity in their students.

Teachers can try the following:

1.  Assign smaller quantities of work at a time.

2.  Give students time during school to complete homework.

3.  Provide abundantly clear instructions (both written and verbal) for homework assignments. 

Parents can try the following:

1.  Dedicate ample and consistent time every day to completing homework.

2.  Allow time for frequent breaks.

3.  Manufacture a good space for the student to complete work.

4.  Develop a “study partner” routine.

Resources:

  1. Doing Homework When You Have ADHD Is Painful (additudemag.com)
  2. How to Organize Your Child’s Homework Routine (additudemag.com)
  3. Anti-Distraction Plan for ADHD Students – Thrive With ADD

Get In Touch

    Hyperactivity, forgetfulness, distraction, abrupt or excessively frequent input into conversations, irritability, and difficulty waiting have been colloquially identified as rude behaviors in many settings. Although these behaviors indeed appear rude, ADHD affects executive function skills, self-stimulating behaviors and self-control, which occasionally manifest in similar behavioral patterns. It’s important to acknowledge that the portrayal of these behaviors is not an intentional choice, but rather a product of the challenges associated with ADHD. Professionals suggest that a vast majority of people with ADHD struggle with executive function, though the skills can be taught and learned if addressed appropriately. Below are some important points of advice for parents or authority figures when considering this behavior from their student:

    Above all else, it’s important to ensure that the student feels their behavioral tendencies (including the ones that can be perceived as rude in certain contexts) are appreciated and understood. When feeling understood, it’s easier to use and reflect upon the advice one is given to create a change. This also builds rapport between the authority figure and student that allows them to collaboratively find solutions to the problematic behavior without discouragement.

    Resources:

    1. https://www.additudemag.com/my-child-is-rude-defiance-adhd-social-challenges/
    2. https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2017-05-31/what-adults-who-dont-have-adhd-should-know-about-adults-who-do
    3. https://psychcentral.com/adhd/adhd-and-disrespectful-behavior#fa-qs

    Get In Touch

      Most parents know the battle over homework with a teenager all too well. You know why it’s important for students to do their homework on time, but it can be hard to convince your teenager of the benefits of doing homework. We have developed some strategies that you can use at home to help your teen complete their homework more smoothly.

      Understand Your Student

      The first thing to understand about this subject is that, as a parent, you need to understand why your teenager is not doing their homework. According to the Washington Post, when students refuse to do homework it is because they do not care about what their teachers think. Furthermore, “If you have a teen who is accustomed to not caring about what his teachers or you think, then he is immune to your punishments and rewards.” 

      To chip away at your student’s apathy, build your relationship with them. Ask if they can show you their favorite video game, or offer to go on a hike with them. Getting to know your teenager is important because they are just discovering who they are and how they fit into the world. If your teen knows that they are loved and supported by you, they will start to care about what you think of them. 

      Reach out to a Trusted Teacher

      Another strategy to help your teen care more is to “personally reach out to a teacher whom your [teen] loves and respects, and ask for support,” according to the Washington Post. When students know that trusted adults are not giving up on them, their barriers start to drop and they let themselves care about school, and therefore care about doing homework.  

      If you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that everything will be ok. This is a relationship issue, and luckily those are relatively easy to fix. As yours and your teen’s relationship starts to improve, you will find yourself much closer to them and you will be able to trust them more. 

      Set up a Structure around Homework

       According to Empowering Parents, most students don’t do their homework because they are lacking the structure and discipline necessary to complete their work. As parents, you should try to structure your student’s evenings as much as possible. Schedule a time for your student to do at least an hour of academic time after school. Academic time is an hour where the student does homework or anything academic that will set them up to succeed in school. For example, imagine that your student only has 20 minutes worth of homework one night. The 40 remaining minutes of the academic time should be spent organizing their backpacks, cleaning out their email, etc. 

      Homework time should be a quiet time in the house. Siblings should not be watching TV or playing video games in the next room. The purpose of a quiet house during homework time is to eliminate distractions for your student. 

      Agree upon a structure for homework time after school when things are calm between you and your student. Write up the agreed upon schedule and post it in a central location like the refrigerator. 

      Some students are involved in extracurriculars, so their afternoons aren’t the same from one day to the next. We suggest writing out a schedule that may vary day to day, but should remain consistent week to week. Your student will benefit from routine and structure, so the more similar you can keep afternoons, the better.

      Use a Public Place for Homework

      Students are easily distracted when they do homework in their bedrooms. We recommend you encourage your student to do their homework at school whenever possible, or at a public place in the house. Doing homework in the kitchen, for example, is helpful for students because you are there to hold them accountable and make sure they are doing their work. 

      Using a public place for homework is also beneficial to the student because they are being held accountable to their homework without feeling like they’re being hovered over. 

      Another great resource for students is Untapped’s Homework Center. Our homework center is a distraction-free place where we have specialists in every subject to help your student. However, if your student doesn’t need help and just needs a quiet place to work, they will find a distraction-free and productive environment. To learn more about the Homework Center, click here

      Help Your Student Get Started

      Task initiation is often one of students’ greatest challenges. Task initiation is the ability to sit down and start a task, even if you don’t want to do it. Parents can help their students with task initiation by starting the task with them. For example, you could help your student figure out their first two math problems in their homework. It is important to remember that you should only be getting your student started with the assignment, not finishing it for them. 

      These strategies all circulate around a central theme: create structure and expectations around homework. Don’t fight with your student about homework. Instead, agree on a structure together and hold them accountable to the routine they created with you. Frequently reassure your student that you are on their side and you want them to succeed. This will help break down some of your student’s barriers and make homework time more manageable. 

      Get In Touch

        In simple terms, self regulation is the ability to control one’s body and self. Many students struggle to self regulate in their daily lives. For example, students may spend too much time playing video games, and not enough time on their school work because they have a hard time controlling their impulses. As parents and mentors, we help our students develop self-regulation skills in several ways. 

        Create routines and encourage students to stick to them.  Routines will help students form habits, which eventually become second nature to students. Initially, students may need frequent reminders about when to complete their routines. Over time, they form habits and become more independent. Additionally, students will require less frequent reminders of how and when to accomplish these tasks, and they will be able to hold themselves accountable with less external intervention. 

        Give students space to develop these skills on their own. Just as it is important to stay active in reminding students of their routines, tasks, and behaviors, it’s also important to give them the space to build these routines on their own. By having students plan out their day independently and communicate that plan with you, you can hold them accountable while giving them the opportunity to take more responsibility in the process. 

        Have students take time to reflect on their progress and habits. Encourage students to reflect on what’s going well for them, what they want to improve, and what actions they will take to work on their self-regulation. Having a discussion about progress gives students a greater sense of ownership in the process of developing these skills. This may look like reflecting on the week each Friday and making goals for the upcoming week based on students’ reflection. 

        Set clear expectations for your student. Many students who struggle with self-regulation benefit from having clear expectations set for them. Ambiguity around expectations can cause many students anxiety and confusion about what they need to do. Discuss expectations with students. Students may also benefit from time-based expectation guidelines, such as having homework finished by a certain time each night or completing daily chores by a certain time. This creates an environment where the student knows what to expect, and they can have the freedom to execute those tasks on their own while being held accountable.
        Positively reinforce students. It’s important to acknowledge the areas in which students are succeeding and congratulate them on those successes. Positive reinforcement can help students identify beneficial actions they are taking. This will help students feel encouraged to continue these positive habits and extend them to other areas of their lives as well. Perhaps a student completed their morning routine and got to class on time every day this week. Congratulate them on this success, and ask them why they feel they were successful. When students understand what makes them successful, they can incorporate that mindset into other parts of their routines.

        Get In Touch

          Students’ energy ebbs and flows throughout the semester, and sometimes they lose momentum. When this happens, we need to remind students that it’s normal, but encourage them to resume their routines without too much time elapsing. We can help students overcome this break in momentum by reminding them to maintain routines, continue healthy habits, and incorporate time management techniques. 

          It can be easy for students to let a lull in energy lead to procrastination, but routines can help them combat that tendency. Students work best when they maintain consistency, even when their energy is low. This may include waking up at the same time each day and completing the same task after eating breakfast. Consistency helps students start the day off with positive momentum and accomplish some of their easier tasks early on. When students follow the routines in their lives, they feel accomplished and are more likely to follow through on difficult tasks. 

          Routines apply to all other aspects of students’ lives. Remind students to maintain healthy habits, such as integrating movement into their day, avoiding too much junk food, and getting enough sleep. These positive routines will help students stay energized. When they fall out of their exercise and sleep routines, staying focused and disciplined becomes much more difficult. Help students schedule movement and sleep into their daily lives. Movement routines could look like taking breaks at the same time or after the same activity each day. Remind students to get ready for bed and wake up at the same time every day as well. The more we can help train students to establish and maintain a sleep pattern that feels easy and natural, the more likely they are to wake up and feel ready for the day.

          Time management techniques, like time blocking and habit stacking, can help keep students on track—even when they feel tired or unmotivated. Have students start their mornings by time blocking their schedule for the day. Time blocking should include all tasks, including seemingly obvious ones like taking a shower or eating breakfast. Students sometimes forget to account for smaller tasks, and end up running out of time. Creating a time-specific plan that accounts for the big tasks and the minutiae helps the student succeed. Time blocking also helps students keep up positive momentum and avoid procrastination. 

          Another technique you can help your student utilize is “habit stacking.” If your student has a new project or task added to their routine, they may find it easier to accomplish (and will follow through) if they pair it with a familiar action in their routine. If time blocking is a new addition, start forming this habit by consistently organizing the day’s tasks and times right after eating breakfast. This helps us to solidify routines and accomplish certain tasks to remove uncertainty and keep up our motivation. 

          It’s normal to feel like there are ebbs and flows in our year, but sometimes we need to pause and remember that there are techniques we can use to avoid letting these ebbs and flows completely dictate productivity.

          Get In Touch

            Often, we expect students to advocate for themselves, but sometimes they’re hesitant because they feel uncomfortable or nervous talking to their teachers. Developing self-advocacy skills will help your student tremendously—not just academically, but in their life beyond school. One way to help your student develop their self-advocating skills is by encouraging them to build relationships with their teachers. This has been made more difficult in our remote era, but it’s more relevant than ever. You can help your student with this by reminding them that by building those relationships and asking for help shows teachers their desire to learn and their maturity. There is no such thing as over-communicating—sometimes what we’d consider “over-communicating” is communicating just enough. 

            You can help your student reach out to their teachers by creating a list of possible scenarios and role playing them to get comfortable. Role playing can help students prepare what they are going to say and how they will respond to certain questions or comments. Essentially, you can help develop a script of what to say to teachers. This, in turn, will ease your student’s anxiety around confronting teachers and asking for the help they need. 

            Developing a script can be helpful when drafting emails as well. Try helping your student form a few standard responses that they can use as templates for corresponding with their teachers. For example: draft one template to ask for an extension, one to ask for help understanding a topic, and one to ask about missing work. This serves several purposes; it removes a barrier in opening communication with the student’s teacher, streamlines the process of asking these questions so the student does not spend too much time agonizing over the “right” wording, and helps students gain confidence when reaching out to their teachers or other authority figures. 

            A large part of self-advocacy for our students is advocating for their ability to use their accommodations when needed. Some students may feel uncomfortable requesting to use their accommodations, so an email template can be a great way to help with this. Additionally, encourage students to reach out early in the year to discuss their accommodations with their teachers. A student’s ability to advocate for the use of their accommodations when needed can greatly impact their academic success.

            Signing up for office hours is a great place to start in building relationships with teachers and open a dialogue. Since this is already set up as time for teachers to support students, the student does not need to ask the teacher to set aside additional time to talk to them. “Going in” for office hours when class is remote is even more important, as this is likely the only time that students can have one-on-one conversations with their teachers. Help your student prepare a list of what they would like to address during this time. Having a list makes students feel more confident and prepared, and they will likely leave office hours feeling like it was a valuable use of their time. 

            Get In Touch

              Spring break is not only an excellent opportunity to take time to reset and refresh, but it is also a great time to reflect and plan ahead for the remainder of the semester. While it is important to actually take this time to take a break, it is equally as important to maintain our routines.  While it should be a time to rest and rejuvenate, there are actions we can take to ensure that this time is well spent to best prepare us for the rest of the semester.  

              For many students, maintaining a degree of consistency in an unstructured time is imperative, not only for their mental stability, but also to ensure that the habits they spent building all semester are not lost. Encourage your students to maintain a consistent daily routine, such as their morning or evening routine. Maintaining a degree of consistency through our morning and evening routines will not just provide necessary structure, but also ensure an easier transition back to school and work. It is helpful to create a plan at the beginning of the break. Make a list with your student about what they want to accomplish and set realistic goals around them. This may mean addressing just one thing with your student every day, or spending a couple of days on any school work they may have so that they can have the rest of the week to relax. Either way, creating a plan and laying it out with your student will allow everybody to be on the same page and ensure that this time is being well spent. This plan should include reviewing grades, goals, and academic progress with your student. 

              Spring break is an ideal  time to have a conversation with your student about where they stand in the semester and how they are feeling about their progress. With finals around the corner, students need to know where grades stand and what needs to happen to meet their goals. This may entail making a list of missing assignments so that  your student feels more organized going into the spring semester. It may also mean setting small goals, such as raising grades by 3%, or turning in all missing assignments in math by a certain date. 

              If your student  needs help in a particular class, this can also be an opportunity to help them draft and send emails to that teacher. Opening a dialogue with teachers will benefit your student greatly as they head into finals, as it shows the teacher that the student cares, and allows the teacher to understand where your student is struggling. Talking with your student about a plan for how they will get extra help will allow for your student to feel prepared and confident that they have a plan for how they can succeed. 

              Spring break is an ideal time to reevaluate where your student stands, what their goals are, and to step back and review what went well and make a plan for the upcoming  weeks. Keep in mind that your student may also need positive reinforcement and encouragement during this time, so that they can feel more confident starting the new semester. This is also a great time to assess what the summer will look like!

              Does your student need some extra math or writing support to prepare for next year? Do they need to hone in on better study skills? Are you anticipating any credit recovery? Is it time to start talking about college? Untapped’s summer programs can help your student transition to next year, whether they just need to retake a class, brush up on this year’s math, or get ahead with future content!

              Get In Touch

                Students who struggle with executive function skills often hear what they are doing wrong. These students receive more negative feedback than positive feedback. This can quickly evolve into a negative feedback loop and become discouraging for the student, since sometimes they don’t understand why they’re receiving this feedback or how to change their actions. As mentors and parents, we can help reverse this pattern by focusing on our students’ strengths and helping them see that they are not  just their shortcomings. And, their missteps can actually be an opportunity for growth. 

                Positive reinforcement can go a long way. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, it’s often more beneficial, both immediately and in the long run, to figure out what went well and make that your focus. Maybe your student studied hard but still got a 50% on a test—they got half of the questions right! Congratulating them on what they did well may help them get up and try again. Not only does this promote positive thinking and a sense of pride for the student, but also challenges them to examine all aspects of their work. This helps them continue to do whatever methods worked well the first time, but it also guides them to find the next piece they need to improve on. Maybe they aced the vocabulary questions but missed the grammar and comprehension questions. This tells them that the way they studied for the vocab worked well, but they need to approach studying differently for the grammar and comprehension sections. It can be helpful to ask your student to write a list of what went well and what went wrong. Even if their list just has a few positives, congratulate them on those successes—it’s important to keep some level of confidence present, as the “bads” can become overwhelming and can easily lead to a feeling of defeat. 

                Dyslexia expert Sally Shaywitz, of the The Yale Center of Dyslexia and Creativity, said, “Dyslexia is an island of weakness surrounded by a sea of strengths.” Helping our students see their challenges as islands can be a helpful visual. This phrase also allows us to see that even though we may have many “islands of weakness,” they are only islands; the islands are surrounded by many strengths that we may take for granted, and which will help us overcome the areas of opportunity. Having a conversation with your student about their “sea of strengths” may help them realize that their shortcomings really are just “islands,” and that they are doing so many things well. This kind of self-analyzing and self-reflection will support your student in the future by teaching them how to figure out what works for them and how to translate that to other assignments and areas of their life. 

                Many of our students have a difficult time breaking their assignments down into manageable pieces and understanding what they need to work on. This is the case not only during the process of completing an assignment, but also when receiving feedback. When you receive negative feedback, it can be easy to jump to the conclusion that nothing is going right. This is obviously a very discouraging thought, and this leaves some students not wanting to try again. But if you provide positive feedback and help students focus on their strengths, they are able to understand that with work, they can and will improve, especially since they are already doing so many things right.

                Get In Touch

                  Many of us, whether we realize it or not, have experienced “burnout” at some point. Burnout is the feeling of exhaustion due to overwork or feeling overwhelmed by work, and generally results in the decline of our performance and quality of work. Many students experience burnout at some point in the school year. This feeling of total exhaustion typically peaks mid-semester as assignments pile up, we fall into routines of staying up late and cramming, or we just begin to drag our feet as we work through (what feels like) endless math homework. It’s not always easy to differentiate normal levels of stress from burnout. Typically, a student who is feeling academically exhausted and experiencing burnout will have a decreased interest in both academic and non-academic activities, and may be lackluster in their daily routines or even in reaching out to friends. David Ballard, of the American Psychological Association, defines burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.” Knowing that we may all experience this feeling of exhaustion at some point allows us to better prepare for dealing with it and even being able to prevent it. 

                  How can we help our students cope with and minimize the effects of this somewhat inevitable burnout? There are a few simple actions we can take (and remind our students to take) in order to work past this mid-year dip. 

                  Sleep. Sometimes, when we feel overwhelmed by the amount of work we have, especially as a result of procrastinating, it’s tempting to stay up late to finish our required tasks. While this may feel like the most productive thing to do in that moment, it realistically leads to a greater sense of exhaustion, initiates a routine of staying up late, and therefore inhibits our ability to focus the next day. Instead, it may be most helpful to set the task aside and get a good night’s rest. Not only does this improve mood and energy levels in the days following, but also allows us to resume the task with more focus and stamina. Remind your student to follow their nightly routine and try to be in bed by the same time every night—even if that means setting an assignment aside to complete in the morning. 

                  Knowing when to set work aside and start fresh again is important and improves the quality of work and life. Your student may be tempted to work until their project is perfect or finished, but this can begin an exhausting routine and is not sustainable. Instead, try helping your student by having them set smaller goals. This serves a few purposes: it allows them to feel accomplished and encouraged as they work, but it also provides good break or stopping points, similar to short chapters in a book. Smaller goals allow your student to set their work aside while feeling proud of what they have done. They can then take a movement break, or even rest and go to bed. This will help keep them feeling encouraged as well as give them a concrete place to easily pick up the project the next day. 

                  Just as it’s valuable to recognize when to set tasks down, it’s also helpful to to clearly prioritize to-do lists and assignment lists. Knowing which tasks are most important versus which tasks can be completed later will allow your student to feel more organized and have a better sense of what they need to focus on. This can help the daily tasks feel less overwhelming and create consistency, which will improve their focus and energy. With this in mind, it can also be helpful to intersperse small and realistic tasks between the larger, potentially looming projects so your student can feel a sense of accomplishment throughout their work day, helping them stay encouraged and keep up the momentum with completing their to-do list. 

                  Finally, remembering to incorporate movement into our daily routines is imperative. Taking frequent breaks to get up and move helps us reset and refocus while also improving our mood and energy levels. Movement breaks can not only shake the feeling of monotony in our days, but they provide a consistent and dependable routine—especially when school feels overwhelming. 

                  By understanding that burnout and exhaustion are more common in students than we assume, we can take precautionary steps to prevent it or make informed decisions to help our students cope more effectively. Support your student in getting enough sleep, maintaining consistent routines, recognizing when to set tasks aside, and continuing to incorporate movement into their days to help them prevent or deal with the effects of burnout.

                  Get In Touch

                    The spaces in which we work have the ability to impact our mood and productivity significantly. Because we all work so differently, there is no one way to curate a workspace to be the most beneficial, but there are actions we can take to make sure that our work spaces are individualized, efficient, and allow us to be our most productive. When schools shifted to be remote in March, and then again as students and parents geared up for a (primarily) remote fall term, there was a steady stream of articles, blogs, and posts regarding “creating the perfect workspace” for your student. Although some of the work spaces are pristine and Pinterest-worthy, a designated work station in your student’s room is just one of many options. And, it may not be the right option for you or your student! Some of us work better alone, while others work best around others. In a time of remote work and learning, finding the right workspace can be a difference between passing and failing a class. 

                    Many students may actually benefit from working around others. It can be helpful for these students to see others also at work, as this can help them feel more focused and less isolated. For many students, the idea that they’re missing out on events happening around them leads to more distraction. Finding a separate but central place for these students to work is important, as it allows them to have a work space where they can concentrate while also being held accountable and knowing they are not “missing out.” This space could be the dining room table, a desk set up in the living room, or perhaps a desk in an office with another focused worker. 

                    Students easily distracted by auditory and visual stimuli may benefit from a more isolated environment. However, it can be helpful to find a space that is still somewhat central. This allows the student to work in a quiet space with limited distractions while making it easy for a parent to check in. Whether a student works better alone or around others, creating a space that is central but separate can be a helpful strategy in promoting focus and productivity.  

                    Other environmental factors such as lighting, neatness or messiness, and comfort level of a space can all also significantly impact our ability to focus. If possible, have your student set up their work area in a bright and naturally lit space. Not only does this improve the student’s mood, but the light will also help them stay more alert and awake. Similarly, a messy work space can both affect mood and ability to stay focused. Have your student re-organize their space at the end of each day; this allows them to come to their desk in the morning, able to begin their day in a clean and focused environment. It’s also important to make sure that your student is comfortable in their work space and that they have everything they might need to do their work. This eliminates time spent unnecessarily situating themselves in the space or searching for materials they need in order to complete their tasks. However, a space that is too comfortable can be detrimental as it can feel too casual and lead to distractions like watching TV or constantly checking social media.

                    When a student’s work space is outside of their room, this “climate control” is more achievable and allows for more intervention. When a student is working behind their closed door in their bedroom, it’s harder for parents to hold them accountable and check in since students feel like parents are prying and invading their space. A central workspace also ensures that students won’t work from their beds. This can hinder productivity since we associate our beds with rest, relaxation, and sleep!

                    No matter how you and your student decide to curate their work environment, remember to take breaks throughout the day that involve leaving the work space to move and refresh. This will improve your student’s focus and prevent the space from becoming stale. Knowing how your student works is the most important piece of information when setting up a work environment for them. It may take trial and error, and it may require a frank conversation about study habits and acknowledging your student’s major distractions. Setting up a space that works well for your student can make all the difference, and taking the time to figure out what works best for your student will greatly benefit them in their academic endeavors. 

                    Get In Touch