Fighting for Focus? How You Can Help Your Child Focus in School


It can be very easy to become frustrated with your child at their inability to focus. Even teachers, experienced parents, and childcare workers have limits to their patience, and all too often, young children tread all over it. It can lead to a snap of irritation and a shout – “Why can’t you just sit down and pay attention?!”

The problem is many children struggle with sitting down and paying attention. Even those who do not have ASD or ADHD spectrum conditions may have problems focusing without the assistance of specially-tailored circumstances. Children who do have these conditions – and other learning disabilities – may struggle even more. 

If you are concerned about your child’s difficulty paying attention, the following tips may be helpful in preparing your child for better school days – and helping them create a better outlook for the future!

Figure Out What’s Causing Your Child’s Attention Issues 

There are many reasons a child might be dealing with difficulty concentrating in school. To help them improve their focus and academic performance, it is important to determine what’s causing the problem, first. Some of the reasons your child might be struggling include:

  • Distractions in the classroom
  • Lack of interest in school or class material 
  • Difficult with the content being taught
  • Lack of challenge in content being taught 
  • Disorganization
  • Worries about home, social life, health, and other outside issues 
  • Inability to follow instructions 
  • Difficulty sitting still or remaining quiet during instruction and classwork 

As you can see, there is a lot that could be bothering your child – but what’s troubling them could also be something completely different. Every child is different. What is causing your child’s problem with focus might be different than what is causing that of a friend or classmate. If you feel like the issue is serious and ongoing, consider speaking to a mental health expert or pediatrician.

Partner With Your Child’s Teacher 

Working with your child’s teacher to identify behavioral concerns is one of the best ways to get right to the root of the problem so that you can attack the issue together. Their teacher works with them directly during a large part of the day, so they will have intimate knowledge of your child’s classroom concentration issues and what they think might be causing them. 

Your child’s teacher can also help you determine what type of learner your child is. What types of stimuli help them and what hinders their ability to focus? With this in mind, they can help create a classroom environment that caters to those needs as much as possible, while also gently encouraging your child to improve their concentration skills. They can also help you determine what your homework and study environment should look and feel like at home, which will further improve participation in class and overall academic performance. 

Build Skills at Home 

There are lots of ways that you can work with your child at home in the evenings, on weekends, and during school breaks to build concentration skills and improve classroom behavior. Just a few of these include: 

  • Play games that focus on concentration, memory, focus, and silence. These are fun ways to exercise important skills that will be vital in the classroom and later in life. 
  • Set up a schedule and remain faithful to it for the best possible results.
  • Let your child know ahead of time that a task is approaching and that they should be ready for it. This way, they won’t feel blindsided and unprepared. 
  • Break big tasks like “clean your room” into smaller ones, like “pick up your toys” and “put away your clean clothes”. 
  • Set goals for tasks, big and small.
  • Reward progress and don’t forget to let your child have some downtime for focus-free fun!

Ensure That Your Child’s Needs are Met and Health is Good 

Many parents and teachers don’t realize it, but a child who is having difficulty performing adequately in school may just be a child whose needs are not being met. They may not be receiving adequate hydration, may not be consuming a balanced, nutritious diet, may not be getting enough sleep, or may not be getting enough exercise. While these problems may not sound like they are related to classroom performance, they absolutely are!

Your child cannot focus on school if they are consumed with their basic needs. If they are tired, hungry, thirsty, it is nearly impossible for them to pay attention in class and complete classwork. Likewise, children who do not receive opportunities for adequate physical activity may feel restless and be unable to sit still and pay attention in class, 

The best way to improve your child’s academic performance may be to improve their health. Provide plenty of healthy food options. Offer them water whenever they want it. Give them a chance to exercise daily, and ensure that they are receiving enough sleep. You may be amazed at how much better they do in school, as a result!

Understand That Focus Issues Can Affect All Ages 

Many parents mistakenly believe that children cease having attention concerns when they age. They believe their child will simply “grow out of” these problems. However, this isn’t just incorrect – it can be in direct opposition to the truth for some students. 

For some children, focus issues do not really begin to impact their learning and growth until middle or high school. For children who attend international schools in Japan and other Asian nations, where the progression of schooling is broken up somewhat differently than it is in Western schools, this can be particularly detrimental. Just as school really starts to be important to the child’s future, they begin to struggle with paying attention in class.

To give your child the biggest possible advantage, you can participate in special programs in your high school in Tokyo or in your expatriate community. Working with your family and other care providers can help to build a foundation of solid skills.