As parents we often multitask. We try to help with homework between stirring the sizzling dinner, doing laundry and answering the phone. With all the demands we have on our time, we don´t always seem to have a choice.

According to author David Rock “Every time you focus your attention, you use a measurable amount of glucose and other metabolic resources.” So as we try to keep many plates spinning at one time, we becoming less efficient and effective in the tasks we perform. The same occurs with our children. It is difficult to concentrate on math problems when the TV is on in the next room, the cell phone is ringing and friends are sending instant messages on the computer. These distractions not only take up time, but also energy that is needed to focus on the more important task.
Glenn Braunstein, Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, claims that we can only truly concentrate on one thing at a time. Our amazing brains allow us to toggle back and forth between tasks within milliseconds, but in the end, we are functioning inefficiently.
Try these distraction busting ideas with your children during homework time and see what works best.

Make a Daily Plan

Before beginning to work, ask your child to tell you all the homework he has to do that day. Make a list of the tasks and invite him to schedule a time to do each one. When there is a plan, he won´t be distracted by wondering what he should be working on or whether he remembers all of the assignments.

Do the Hardest Tasks First

Ask your child to look at the list and decide which tasks involve the most thought. When she schedules the tasks, remind her to put those tasks when she is the freshest. Saving them for last will only prolong the agony because she will be anticipating the chore and will be more prone to distraction making the activity take longer.

Divide Big Jobs into Smaller Chunks

Projects, long reading assignments and large numbers of math problems can cause children to be overwhelmed and tired. These seemingly never ending homework assignments lead children to be easily distracted. Anything to avoid the daunting task!!! By dividing the job into smaller pieces, the feeling of accomplishment serves as a motivator to continue and eliminates (or at least lessens) the heavy weight of the infinite task.

Allocate Time for Breaks

Including time for a healthy snack will keep the energy flow more consistent. Also, allocating a ten minute period to chat with siblings or friends, allows the child to focus on the work knowing that the chance to socialize is a part of the plan. A scheduled break from deep concentration allows your child to return to homework fresher and allows him to focus on the task at hand not guessing what his friends may be texting him.

Include Time to Reward Oneself

On most days, kids have spent most of the day in school and then need to come home to continue studying. Homework is not always fascinating, so children find themselves daydreaming about their favorite video games, television show or hobby. After completing a difficult task or a long portion of time studying, allow your child to be rewarded with 20-30 minutes to use as they please. This will refresh their minds, keep them balanced and give them a new energy to continue on.

Each child has different needs. Experiment with these suggestions to discover which ones streamline the homework process. Good luck!

Author's Bio: 

Sherrie Hardy, M.A., MIMC, author of Beyond Labels-Helping Your Child Succeed In School, founder of Hardy Brain Training, Hardy Learning Center and Hardy Academy programs that create success for struggling students and adults, creator of Rising Star Home Training System improving attention, learning and behavior and Successful Student Now on-line teleseries that teaches parents how to discover and correct the problems that inhibit their children’s success.