Using digital tools like laptops, tablets and smartphones allow online school students to engage in learning in three-dimensional, creative, collaborative and unique ways. Unfortunately technology has also become a distraction for many online school students, causing them to lose their focus and passion for learning. In this age of an abundance of digital distractions, it’s more important now than ever for children to learn how to concentrate and practice self-control.
Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and author of the book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence says, “The real message is because attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history, we have more distractions than ever before, we have to be more focused on cultivating the skills of attention.”
Goleman researches how children’s brains develop and how the neural circuitry that is used for staying focused and paying attention is the same circuitry that is used for managing negative emotions. If young students aren’t equipped and empowered to positively develop the neural circuitry that focused attention requires, they could have problems later in life with controlling their emotions, being empathetic, and having healthy relationships.
Goleman and other researchers and educators all agree that technology is not to be faulted, but that new attention and importance must be placed on teaching children self-control.
“I don’t think the enemy is digital devices,” Goleman says. “What we need to do is be sure that the current generation of children has the attentional capacities that other generations had naturally before the distractions of digital devices. It’s about using the devices smartly but having the capacity to concentrate as you need to, when you want to.”
There are many methods and tools for encouraging online school students to develop their ability to concentrate. Though each child will have their own developmental journey and will benefit from different practices, it is important that all parents and educators put some thought into how every child can be taught to have focus and concentration.
Here are a few ideas of practices to help encourage and train young online school students to concentrate.
Minimize technological distractions.
Online school students will need some degree of technological devices, but eliminating unneeded devices can definitely help in minimizing distractions. Designate a computer that students will do their school work on and then remove other tablets, cell phones, iPods, televisions and doo dads from sight.
Set a place that’s inspiring.
While eliminating digital devices can be freeing, adding other things to the student’s work space can also aid in concentration and focus. By asking questions and experimenting, help your child determine what type of setting they can focus in best. For example, some students need direct light on their desk while others may prefer not to sit at a desk but on a pillow on the floor. Help your online school students create a learning environment that is distraction free and abundant in inspiration.
Keep a routine.
It’s been found that most students, especially those in elementary school, are able to focus on school work best when they can anticipate their daily routine. When children are trained to know that there are planned and distinct times for online learning and other times for activities and play, they are better able to mentally shift their focus and remain concentrated and on task.
But don’t forget to mix it up.
Just as routine is essential to concentration, so are breaks and spontaneous shifts in actions and schedules. Depending on age and individual tendencies, the number and frequency of breaks needed will vary from child to child. But no matter the developmental stage, every online school student needs to take time to rest their brain, reward themselves for concentrated focus and maintain a school routine that is stimulating and fun.