Have you ever noticed your child is daydreaming in class, and struggling to start and finish academic tasks?
It happens to lots of children and is by no means unusual.
However, it can become problematic, and when that happens, it can certainly interfere with academic success for your child.
It is important to note that some attention issues can lead to learning issues.
Some attention issues cannot be resolved simply by telling your child to pay attention as this does not address the underlying causes of distraction and loss of attention.
But oftentimes, you might know how to identify the attention characteristics that are creating academic problems for your child.
Dana Stahl, Learning Specialist and Educational Consultant, who successfully overcame her own learning challenges, has created an online course called The ABCs of Academic Success.
This course is designed specifically to help identify and help resolve attention issues that are affecting your children’s academic performance in school, and their ability to learn
What Are Attention Issues, And How Do They Affect Academic Success?
“If your child has an attention issue, he or she will lose focus and appear to daydream often. It will mean he or she will have difficulty before they are able to re-enter the discussion,” says Stahl.
“He or she will have difficulty transitioning from one part of the lesson to another. There is a visible disconnect from directions to executions of tasks,” she continues.
If your child struggles with paying attention or appears scattered or absent-minded, forgetful and disorganized, it’s likely he or she has an attention issue that is affecting their academic progress.
These challenges may arise from difficulties with executive functioning, a set of mental skills necessary to focus, retain information, prioritize and organize information, and more.
But the good news is, with just a few of the correct strategies, they can be easily solved.
Attention issues impede your child’s academic success opportunities and here are 4 ways to solve attention issues and create academic success for your child!
4 Ways to Solve Attention Issues and Create Academic Success
1. Solve Attention Issues and Create Academic Success by Pinpointing Learning Styles
Often, teaching styles are a “one-size fits all” model, yet your child is a unique individual with different learning needs.
And your child does not learn the same way that other children do.
Just as each student has a unique and distinct personality, your child’s preferences in how they learn best varies as well.
Your child may fall into one of or some combination of three primary learning style categories.
If they are primarily visual, they have an easier time learning, absorbing and processing information in images.
They like to read, process diagrams, charts and maps easily, and make mental movies in their heads naturally out of what they learn.
If your child is primarily auditory, they are better able to recall things that they hear than what they read.
You might have noticed they have no trouble recalling song lyrics, movie quotes and conversations you had with them even two months ago.
Kinesthetic learners tend to prefer to interact with their environment and with the learning material.
They may enjoy experiments more than reading books and learn better when moving around and being active.
However, did you know that schools tend to cater to the students with the visual learning style?
In fact, students with visual learning style traits match precisely what schools demand of students to measure their progress.
Written tests, lots of reading, producing neat and organized papers, being organized, remembering all assignments, being a great seat-sitter who is very still while the teacher is speaking, are all among the natural strengths of visual learners compared to auditory or kinesthetic learners.
If your child is fidgety in class, unable to focus on the text in front of them, unable to recall what they have read, etc., they may not simply be distracted.
Your child may genuinely be at a loss and unable to focus, process and retain information delivered to them in a form that does not align with their preferred learning style.
In order to make the most of their strengths and overcome their weaknesses, your child needs to discover their preferred learning style and develop strategies based on them.
For instance, if they are an auditory learner, they may benefit from recording lessons and playing these back to themselves when reviewing the topic.
They might also benefit from recording themselves reading the text out loud and playing this back, or explaining the material out loud, rather than simply reading the text.
If your child is a kinesthetic learner, who might get restless when needing to sit down and study, they might benefit from acting out the information they’re learning.
They might understand information better when participating in group discussions, and moving around as they learn – for example, pacing, climbing stairs, doing jumping jacks, etc.
Along with these strategies, all learners can benefit from developing and enhancing the strategies visual learners use naturally, since school typically is a high-visual environment.
Visual learners are adept at converting information they learn into images inside their minds.
The brain processes images lightyears faster than it can process text – the more ridiculous, colorful and animated the images, the easier they are to recall.
Creating mental movies in the mind for information not only makes learning more interesting and engaging, but also drastically improves understanding and recall.
2. Solve Attention Issues and Create Academic Success by Smashing the Task (Chunk the Task)
This, however, is not at all a brain-friendly method of learning and is at odds with neuroscience and how the brain performs.
If your child struggles to focus during study sessions, or finds it challenging to begin or complete tasks, Stahl recommends “smashing the task” down into smaller assignments.
Your child might find themselves spacing out due to the sheer overwhelm of what they think is a daunting task.
Breaking these down into smaller to-do items makes them more manageable and, according to neuroscience, a far more effective way of learning.
The brain isn’t wired to pay attention for several hours at a go.
In fact, the longer the time you spend trying to learn something, the more likely you are to forget.
According to Hermann Ebbinghaus, who developed the Ebbinghaus curve of forgetting, humans are better able to recall what they learn at the beginning and at the end of a study session.
The “middle” is the most prone to being forgotten, especially if no attempt is made to retain this information.
The longer this “middle” is, the steeper the downward slope of the curve.
In other words, the longer the study session, the faster the rate at which you might forget if no attempt is made to retain the information.
So, breaking studying up into smaller sections is actually beneficial for the brain’s ability to retain and process information.
Short but productive study sessions with breaks in between make it less daunting to begin and complete the tasks.
When your child completes a task, the brain rewards them with a dopamine surge – this is the motivation molecule, which makes them feel great about themselves.
Moreover, the brain enjoys this sensation of satisfaction so much, that it seeks it out again – motivating them to continue with their study sessions in anticipation of this sense of reward.
Breaking tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks also helps your child focus on individual elements of an assignment in greater detail.
This ensures a deeper understanding of the assignment and learning material, and a more comprehensive final output.
3. Solve Attention Issues and Create Academic Success by Creating a Healthy Work Environment
If they read while lying in bed, for example, their brain confuses the environment – which it associates with resting – and the needs of the task at hand.
If they tell you that they feel sleepy, lethargic, or just find their minds wandering while half slumped in the couch or in bed, this is why.
On the other hand, when they sit up straight, shoulders back, at a desk, their brain processes the environment differently.
This is more reminiscent of how your child would sit in a classroom, or in the library, where they are expected to pay attention.
Choosing the right environment also entails removing sources of distraction from your child’s study space.
Phones, television and other electronic gadgets are all culprits which can distract them from learning.
It’s much easier to keep flicking through TV channels or scrolling down social media feeds even when nothing is happening.
This is because the reward pathways of the brain have come to associate notifications on your child’s phone, or time spent watching TV, or video games, with dopamine spikes.
Because of the anticipation of the reward and the feel-good sensations, even if nothing is happening, they might find themselves hooked to a screen because subconsciously they seek a reward.
Naturally, this is very disruptive for focus and learning.
And removing these elements from your child’s study space is essential to allow the brain to get a healthy dopamine fix from smashing the task, rather than the unhealthy dopamine fix of staying glued to a screen for hours.
And in fact, research indicates that using electronic devices to study might actually put a dent into your child’s productivity.
One study found that students who brought laptops to class, for example, used them on non-learning related activities for two-thirds of the time.
Once focus on a particular task is disrupted, it can take the brain nearly 30 minutes to refocus.
So, minimizing the distractions in your child’s study environment is a must to create a brain-friendly learning atmosphere.
Using printouts and textbooks and handwriting notes rather than typing them are also scientifically proven to be better for the brain.
Compared to screens, studies found that research participants better recalled information they read off paper.
Moreover, handwritten notes are also found to enhance memory.
As writing is slower than typing, your child has to process what they are listening to or reading, make sense of it, and summarize it in their own words before taking down notes.
This prompts them to engage more meaningfully with the information and enables better recall.
Physical notes and learning materials have the advantage over electronic devices for studying in that they allow less room for distraction.
For learning which does require electronic devices, for example e-Learning courses like The ABCs of Academic Success, using software like Freedom can ensure distracting websites stay blocked during study sessions.
4. Solve Attention Issues and Create Academic Success by Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
For instance, are they getting enough high-quality sleep?
Sleep is essential for healthy dopamine levels conducive for learning.
Poor sleep not only equates to flagging dopamine levels the following day, but also interferes with the brain’s natural processes of consolidating what it learned during the previous day into long-term memory.
Your child’s brain remains active as they sleep.
The hippocampus and neocortex work during this time to review what it collected throughout the day, creating and reinforcing neural pathways of that information.
If your child does not get enough sleep, they may struggle to recall what they learned the day before, as well as lack the motivation and energy to focus on learning the following day.
Similarly, what your child eats can play a part in their ability to attend to academic tasks.
Refined sugars and fried foods can provide a temporary dopamine high, but this is followed by a long-term dopamine crash.
This is why feelings of lethargy, mood swings, inability to concentrate, etc. often follow when they eat these types of food.
Not only is this not conducive for learning, but excessive consumption of these types of foods is also bad for your child’s overall health in the long run.
So, switching out sugary cereals and fast food for healthier brain-friendly alternatives, like berries, salmon, leafy greens, nuts, etc., provides the brain fuel to grow, learn and focus.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is another contributor to better focus.
Exercising – even taking a short fifteen-minute walk – stimulates dopamine, serotonin and a group of other chemicals that make your child feel uplifted and happy.
Exercise and physical activity also increases the supply of these chemicals and oxygen-rich blood to the brain, sharpening your child’s focus and priming their brain for learning and growing.
Hopefully, with these 4 ways to solve attention issues and create academic success, you can help your child enhance their focus and productivity to new heights.
The ABCs of Academic Success contain several of these simple but effective and neuroscience-backed strategies to correct not just attention issues, but a plethora of learning issues.
Once inside the ABCs of Academic Success course, please email me to set up your FREE 15 minute consultation to discuss the best ways to help your child with learning and attention issues.
Which of these strategies are you looking forward to trying first?
Dana Stahl is a renowned Educational Consultant and Learning Specialist that major news outlets such as CNN and parenting journals have on speed dial in order to share the very best information possible for parents who have children with learning challenges.
Having experienced a learning disability herself as a child, she brings expert knowledge, compassion and empathy to her work with you and your child.
Parents taking her course, The ABC’s of Academic Success, A Must Have Parent Guide to Help Your Child With Learning, Attention, or Anxiety Issues Thrive, get the added benefit of a FREE 15 minute private consultation with Dana.
This course leads parents through a step-by-step simple process to help their child who has learning, attention, and anxiety issues, by answering questions and giving them the best path to follow while helping their child thrive.
Within her field, Dana is referred to as the Dr. Spock of Learning Issue solutions.
Her private practice, Educational Alternatives, LLC, focuses on advice, advocacy, and individualized school placements. She is also the author of The ABCs of Learning Issues in both English and Spanish.