Saturday, November 19, 2011

One, Simple Strategy for More Focus

So often, parents will ask for strategies to help their children focus and concentrate, especially when reading or doing homework assignments. When making suggestions, I always like to start with the simple things parents can do to help. Here is just one idea that is no-cost, easy, and can be a relief to some children.

If a child is overwhelmed by too much to read on a worksheet, it is a good idea to fold the worksheet into thirds, fourths, or even eighths, if needed. That way, only what needs to be focused upon at the moment is made visible. The distracting, surrounding text is “out of sight and out of mind” for the moment.

This approach works particularly well when written directions involve several steps. It is also a good strategy for math worksheets. If a child sees 20 math problems on a sheet, those problems can appear daunting enough for the child so that he does not even want to begin the assignment. On the other hand, if the worksheet is folded, revealing only 1 or 2 problems at a time, the child can better focus with much more attention on each problem. The remaining math problems are out of sight and, therefore, not an issue of distraction, or even anxiety in some cases. As each problem is completed, re-fold the paper to reveal the other problems, 1 or 2 at a time. This strategy usually results in better accuracy, too, when the work is completed.

You might try this “win-win approach” the next time your child appears overwhelmed with an assignment that “seems too hard”. Your child just might thank you for it and use the strategy again later on his own!

For more information: For focusing tools that work! For info, resources, and support


  1. What a common sense, simple idea. I will be sure to suggest it to some of the children I help in the homework club that I supervise. I am sure that this technique will work for easily distracted children. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Evelyn,

    Many thanks for your comment and feedback here. Yes, this is such a simple idea, but when it is often suggested, parents and teachers are amazed that they didn't think of it first!

    Thanks again for your good input!


  3. As always, another strong, sturdy and immediately useful idea from you. Great job! :)

  4. Paula,

    Thank you for your wonderful comment here!

    I must admit that I have been visiting your blog, too---and often! Especially liked "How to Raise a Reluctant Reader" (Nov. 9): The "reverse psychology" approach there was excellent! It will, no doubt, help many parents---and teachers. Thanks for another great article, Paula!

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  6. (We are sorry, but unfortunately, Jackie's comment was inadvertently removed when a website update was performed by the webmaster. Would very much appreciate a re-posting by Jackie if that would be possible by her.

    Thank you,
    Joan Brennan)