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KidBecause you’re a homeschool parent, you know better than anyone that life gets crazy.

You’re a jack-of-all trades when it comes to the kids–cooking, teaching, cleaning, advising, encouraging, and nursing (with a proficiency in slapping on Band-Aids.)

With so much happening every day, getting everyone to sit down and focus on schoolwork can be a challenge.

Encourage focus through your school day with these simple steps.

  1. First, the main thing is to recognize and respond to each child’s actions.

    Take time to watch your children and consider their strengths and weaknesses.

    Do the kids focus best in their own rooms, or near you? One may be more self-motivated and get through everything by the end of the morning. Another might work best with short-term goals and subjects broken up throughout the day.

    Try These Ideas

    • Change it up. Never be afraid to break a pattern and try something else that might work better.
    • Take suggestions. Ask the kids for ideas that you haven’t thought of.
    • Try making a suggestion box! Encourage the kids to put in suggestions for what would help them get school done, and then try out those things. Give out a prize at the end of each month for the best suggestion.

    Keep learning your children as they grow. You’ll find the keys for helping them to focus rest in understanding their needs.

  2. Make sure they have everything they need before they start working.

    You may be saying, “Duh!” but seriously, this eliminates unnecessary stop-and-start-again time.

    Try These Ideas

    • Make sure they have everything at their work place, from books to pencils and paper.
    • Help get rid of interruptions by having everyone use the bathroom and get a drink of water before starting a subject.
  3. Have a specific place for school.

    The couch is the perfect placeā€¦ for relaxing. So doing schoolwork there isn’t the best for keeping your child focused (although it can be a great change of scenery for quiet reading time).

    • Try to create a specific space for schoolwork and assign a study spot—even the kitchen table works. It doesn't mean you always have to do school there, but it helps encourage focus by building an association between that place and studying.
    • Make sure it’s a comfortable space as free of distractions as possible.
  4. Be clear about your expectations.

    Right in the morning, set the pace for the day. Talk about what needs to get done, then hold your children responsible for following through.

    Try These Ideas

    • Try putting all the subjects/tasks for the day on a separate chart for each child. The kids can write their name on their chart and decorate it with markers and stickers.
    • Hang it on the fridge or in your homeschool area, and teach them to follow the chart.
    • When you're busy with a basket of laundry or a phone call, your children can stay focused on their work because they’ll know what's next.
    • If you have high schoolers, try using planners instead of charts.
  5. Know what your children can do.

    Uninterrupted focus is difficult even for adults. When you know what each child can do, you’ll know when you’re pushing them to be better and when you’re asking the impossible.

    Try These Ideas

    • Before you start a lesson, set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes. Tell your child, “We’re going to do math until the timer rings. Then we’ll take a snack break!” And get to learning.
    • If you find a time ratio that works at the beginning of the year, pay attention throughout the year to see if it needs to change. Watch your kids working when they don’t realize you’re looking to see if they might need more or less time.
  6. Use incentives.

    Even something simple can be surprisingly good motivation!

    Try These Ideas

    • Find each child’s “carrot.” Is it a high-five? Praise? A special plate at the dinner table?
    • Maybe it’s something tangible to work toward, like a toy or completing a to-do list. Or maybe it’s responsibility—fewer homework problems next time because you know he’s getting it.
    • Let your kids know what they can do once the whole school day is finished. Maybe they can play basketball with the neighbors or watch their favorite T.V. show.
  7. Get an early start.

    This doesn’t mean be bright-eyed and ready to go at 6 a.m. sharp, but start each morning at the same time as often as you can.

    Try These Ideas

    • Avoid the PJ’s. They’re comfy! But they don't encourage a get-things-done attitude.
    • Encourage everyone to come out to breakfast dressed and ready for the day. And speaking of breakfast…
    • Try making breakfast earlier. Often the day doesn’t feel like it’s really started until everyone’s had a good hearty breakfast. Even if it’s just setting cold cereal out on the table with milk and bananas, an earlier meal means an earlier start to the day.
    • It’s tempting to start with the fun subjects—and some days, you may need to—but beginning with the tougher subjects is generally better because it helps start the day off with focus.