Nine Year Old Won’t Stay on Task and Finish School Work
I’m wondering if your readers have suggestions for how to get my 9 year old to stay on task. It’s work I know he can do on his own (practicing spelling for instance) but I find I have to sit right there with him or he won’t focus. What are some trick for helping a student stay on task for work you know they’re capable of doing on their own? I hate feeling like I have to nag, nag, nag to get him to work! ~L
Ideas for helping a child focus:
Honestly, I’m having a similar difficulty right now, I do think part of it is this age from what I hear. I do have some ideas that have been helping my own child focus, I’m hoping we get in more ideas from readers though!
- Consistent Time: I’m finding that if I’m pretty consistent with setting aside a work time in the afternoon that is designated to school work every day, my son expects that this is the time he needs to work (not that he loves it, but I get a bit less push back). Also, he is not allowed to do media on the weekends unless all of his homework is finished, so sometimes he has a lot of work on Saturday morning, but he’s pretty motivated to finish it then.
- Sensory Needs: If you suspect that he has a hard time focusing because of a sensory need or being wiggly, or needing to move around, these 5 Sensory Ideas to Help With Focus might help. Doing a little heavy work before sit down work may be in order.
- Kinesthetic Learner: I’ve learned my son is a kinesthetic learner and that a characteristic of this learning style is having a very hard time focusing on work that seems meaningless in the moment (spelling, for instance). I try to remind him of the “big picture” of why he needs to practice boring things like multiplication tables and spelling. I look for times to point out their use in the real world so he begins to understand that the practice has a reason.
- Write Down Expectations: Having a chart for his daily tasks has helped us as well. That way when he wants to go play I can say, ‘Did you finish your chart?’. We use this in the morning for chores and for in the afternoon with work he needs to do each day. The first couple days we started it he hated it, but now he seems to enjoy having the empowerment to check things off and know what is expected of him. I use this free printable daily task chart from Life Your Way.
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Alissa Zorn is an author, and founder of the website Overthought This. She's a coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa is certified through the International Coach Federation and got her Trauma-Informed Coaching certification from Moving the Human Spirit. She wrote Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection, Not Perfection, and is always following curiosity to find her next creative endeavor.