Keeping a child focused on their responsibilities — whether at home or at school — can be a challenge. A month into the school year, some parents are finding that their kids are struggling in classes due to being easily distracted. Vicki Johnson has some advice on how to help your kid concentrate on the task at hand.
Get a timer
The concept of a minute, or several, may be too vague for some children. Giving them a timer so they can see how long 20 minutes is, for example, can help them learn time management skills. Johnson recommends the Time Timer MOD and Dry Erase Board, which costs about $50 on Amazon and allows children to have some control over what is written on the board.
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"Don’t be scared of timers. Teachers recommend it and it really does help," Johnson said.
Encourage organization skills with a smart notebook
Every student needs a notebook, but sometimes keeping pages together for multiple classes can be difficult. Even parents can struggle to organize their daily planners or journals.
A new, smarter notebook could be the key. Johnson recommends the Rocketbook, a reusable notebook which can be linked with an app to send handwritten notes to cloud services. The Rocketbook, which costs $27 for the "Everlast" model on Amazon, comes with a special pen whose ink can be erased or heated away, allowing the pages to be used multiple times. Additionally, using the app to send copies of the pages to a cloud service allows a user to keep notes organized.
"It’s really about the app," Johnson said. "You’re not wasting any paper… You just scan it, it goes into a folder, and at the end of the day you can go, 'This is all of the history work that I need for the semester,' and it’s easier to study."
Organization includes lunch, too
Packing a school lunch is an organizational matter for both parents and children. Disorderly lunch bags can result in spills or jumbled food, and in hot weather some meals can even spoil.
To keep lunches both cool and collected, Johnson recommends a freezer bag, like Packit’s Freezable Lunch Bag, $20 on Amazon. With this bag, no ice pack is necessary – just take it out of the freezer and it’s good to go for six or seven hours. The bag is also great when planning for afternoon activities like soccer practices or club meetings.
Consider a phone alternative
Parents often debate over when is the right time to give their child a phone. Younger kids often aren’t responsible enough to own one, but parents usually want to be able to get in contact with their young ones.
Fortunately, smart watches may present an alternative to a phone. Johnson recommends the TickTalk 3, a smart watch which allows for voice calls, two-way video chat and has an imbedded GPS tracker. It costs $190 on Amazon and about $10 on a monthly phone plan, so it may be a good Christmas or birthday present for a child of the right age.
"If you have a kid who’s going to other people’s homes and you want to be able to be in contact with them, if they got activities after school, it really gives you peace of mind," Johnson said.
For younger kids, ergonomic seating can improve focus
Toddlers have the habit of wiggling out of arm’s reach. Even slightly older kids may feel a bit antsy while their minds are busy at school. The Ergonomic Stool from ErgoErgo, Johnson says, could be an option for parents wanting to allow their kids constant movement while encouraging good posture.
The Ergonomic Stool is about $90 on Amazon.
Leave notes in your kid’s lunchbox
Some parents love to put notes with their kids’ lunches. They’re great for a bit of mid-day encouragement, a reminder, or just a way to help a child feel close with mom or dad while at school. Parents looking to add a little flair to the routine might consider the lunchbox notes made by My Scratch Offs. These notes, which cost $7 on Amazon for a 25-card pack, include a scratch-off sticker that kids can rub with a coin to reveal the message underneath.