homeschooling short attention span
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Homeschooling: How to Cope with Waning Attention Spans

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Originally posted on April 22, 2020. Updated on July 30, 2022.

If you homeschool your children, you need some strategies on how to make sure your kids stay focused on the lessons for the day.

Help Their Brains: Break It Down

It may seem counterproductive, but believe it or not, the best way to get kids to focus on school work is by NOT forcing them to constantly do school work.

It has long been established that the human brain does best with focusing in on tasks for about 35 minutes at a time. After this, it is important to take a break in order to retain the optimum level of concentration.

If your child seem unable to concentrate, there may be any one of a number of reasons as to why this is happening. Run through the below checklist before throwing up your hands in despair.

Your child has a short attention span… what’s wrong?

Lack of Sleep

children paint

If kids aren’t going to bed early enough it can be because bed time isn’t being enforced properly. Maybe your child settles down to sleep at 10 pm when the ideal time is 8:30. Age factors in here. If your child can’t seem to wind down for bed it could be that he or she is not getting enough exercise during the day. Increase physical activity, including indoor and outdoor sports and physical exercise.


children clapping

If breakfast was something small like half a bagel and no protein, your child’s brain may need a boost of fuel. Offer a protein-rich snack, like nuts and fruit, or cheese and crackers. Is it lunch time? Take a break from school work and sit the family down for a proper sandwich.

Too Many Sweets


Sometimes the solution is right in front of us but we can’t see it. Kids on candy overload? Send them outside to play and work off that sugar. Come back for a protein snack and settle back into the school day.

Too Much Inactivity

children glasses

There doesn’t have to be a reason why children should go outside and burn off excess energy every day. It’s just a fact of life. Host gym class earlier in the day and see if this helps improve concentration levels in kids.

More Potty Breaks

children smiling

Young children, in particular, don’t always know when it’s time to go. If your child seems bored, listless, and fidgety, there could be tummy troubles. Try offering fiber-rich foods and plenty of water to speed the process along. Take note of whether focus improves as a result.

Too Much Screen Time

children scribbling

Kids need to stretch and move their bodies. Being on the computer for too long produces an unhealthy amount of restless energy. Did you know that the body goes into fight or flight mode, producing excess cortisol, during the online experience, with all of the constant alerts and pressing of keys for a needed result? If your children can’t settle down to do schoolwork, get them outside and away from the computers and online games. Return and try again in a half hour.

Needs Some People Time

3 children standing

The social distancing rule is taking its toll on everyone, kids especially. If your children seem to be emotionally affected, permit them an outlet for their feelings and remember to be patient. Find ways to connect with friends, whether it’s sending a funny email, calling up Grandma, doing a video chat with school mates, Face Timing friends and family on the iPhone or waving at the neighbors or people at the park from more than 10 feet away.

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Homeschooling: How to Cope with Waning Attention Spans

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