Most family has at least one child that struggles to concentrate on the task at hand, and those who have one, know it is difficult homeschooling a distracted child. I have had one who has found every opportunity to get distracted, whether it was daydreaming about free time, thinking about something that had recently happened, his imagination running wild or getting excited about what he was reading about and just wanting to go on and on about it. With a child that is easily distracted, it is important to do what you can to train them in skills necessary for concentration.
How to Homeschool a Distracted Child
In our 15 years of homeschooling, I have found that the earlier you train a child to give their full attention, the less likely it is for them to be easily distracted with their lessons. However, there are exceptions which require you to have even more tools to work with to disciple a child that is highly prone to distraction.
These are the things that I have implemented and have found great success in eliminating the distraction habits.
We all learn differently, and what may not be distracting to one person may be just the reason another can't concentrate.
I have a hard time cooking in a messy space, so I love having a clean kitchen. My work space is similar, because if it is messy, it hinders my creative abilities. So for me, I need clean places to do my work.
Noise is another distraction that hinders me from concentrating, and that is the same with one of my children. For him to be diligent in his work, I had to allow him to do his work in his room. This only happened when I was confident that he already showed the habit of being diligent in his assignments and of course, I checked up on him often to be sure he was staying on task. It was the best decision I could make for him and his school work increased greatly once I eliminated the noise distraction that was going on in the main area of our home.
My highly distracted child isn't affected by the house noise, since it is his wandering mind that gets him distracted, so I wouldn't be able to give him the privilege of working in seclusion because it would give his mind more opportunities to wonder.
The key to eliminating distraction has been training attentiveness early, and revisit it whenever it feels necessary. In our home, a timer has worked great. The child and I agree on a set time for how long an assignment would take if they were doing their best and we set the timer for that amount of time. Having the timer in front of the child, will allow them to hear the ticking and be a reminder to stay focused and give complete attentiveness to the lesson in front of them.
Allow for Brain Breaks
As a reward for ‘beating the timer', you can reward your child with a 5 minute brain break that allows them to do whatever they want to think about, get up and change their position or move around some. This mental break is so important for a child that really struggles with distractions, as it trains them in knowing they will earn a reward for being diligent.
For my distracted child, this could easily mean he wants to talk to me and tell me something in his mind. He loves to talk and needs those breaks through his school routine.