With summer break approaching, the days getting longer, and the weather getting warmer, teachers and parents may find students’ attention spans and interest in completing homework decreasing.

Students in grade school typically spend between 5 and 10 hours on homework every week, but homework time can drag out if students find themselves procrastinating or easily distracted.

Here are seven hacks that will help students stay focused and make the most out of their homework time so they can still have time in the evenings to enjoy the nice weather, and so parents and caregivers can get a break as well.

  1. Set a timer. Children (and adults) often focus better when they know they have a limited amount of time to complete a task. By working with children’s attention spans and scheduling 20-30 homework segments instead of expecting them to concentrate on one topic for hours at a time, you will make the most of homework time.
  2. Chew gum. Many people claim that chewing gum while studying helps keep them focused by giving them an outlet for pent up energy or anxiety.
  3. Don’t forget snacks. Low blood sugar and dehydration can lead to brain fog and make it more difficult to complete homework. Make sure your students have a snack and a glass of water before settling down to complete homework.
  4. Take exercise breaks. Not only can exercise improve mood and energy levels, but it floods the brain with important chemicals and nutrients that boost memory and cognition.
    Use rewards as motivation. Associating studying and learning with positive reinforcement can aid recall and even help students look forward to homework time, instead of dreading it. This can boost motivation and improve concentration.
  5. Have students explain the material. One sign that you fully understand something is when you are able to explain it to someone else. Let your student lead the homework session by explaining the concepts and material to you as they complete each step. This will give them a sense of agency and accomplishment and help them feel more motivated.
  6. Participate in homework groups. Younger students may be distracted by studying next to their friends, but students in middle school and high school often find it helpful to participate in study groups. That way, they can get homework done and meet their social needs at the same time and not feel like they are missing out on connection.

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