Parents' Guide

Education, Scholarships, Parenting Tips

How to Focus During A Study Session

When your child sits down to study, do they have problems with concentrating, or walk away from their revision after only a few minutes? Have you tried various methods to get them to study, but are met with resistance?

Well, here's how to get your child to concentrate!

1. Remove their distractions.

Distractions are the opposite of concentration.

One day, when your child is studying, take some time to watch and notice what tempts them away from their studies. Is it the prospect of playing video games on a computer nearby? Unimportant phone calls from friends wanting to go out together? Or maybe, your child is simply just fidgety and unable to concentrate due to wandering thoughts.

Whatever it is, get them to remove that specific distraction, or make compromises in order to focus. For example, if their phone tempts them because of text messages, get your child to put their phones away in an inaccessible place, or give them to you. If they are unwilling to do so, perhaps compromise by giving them back their phones every hour or so of studying, and allow them five minutes to rest and check for messages.

If your child is the kind that needs their phone to look up important information on Wikipedia or images of school notes, consider getting them apps such as Forest, that rewards concentrating on the task at hand (studying) and punishes straying away and checking Instagram or Facebook.

Forest allows your child to create timers, of their own choosing, and to whitelist and blacklist certain sites. Sit down with them and help to suggest sites that ought to be blacklisted, and what they really, actually need for their constructive studying. When a timer is running, your child has to look at their papers and set down their phone, and only look at those sites that will help them, while a virtual tree grows. If they stray from their studying for too long, their tree will die.

This creates a level of gamification for your child, as they will be motivated to stay focused so that they can have a virtual “forest”.

2.Give your child rewards for staying focused and not for good marks.

Rewards for concentrating encourage hard work.

All too often, parents reward their children only for good marks, and punish for poor. However, good marks are not always directly correlated to studying hard. It's surprisingly common for children to “mug” the night before the big exam and score well, but develop poor studying habits. On the other side of the spectrum, there are hardworking children who study hard, but their results do not reflect it.

If your child falls into the latter category, they might already feel discouraged that their hard work has seemingly gone to waste. You can encourage their continued effort and concentration by rewarding them when you notice that they have studied particularly hard before a test. The rewards can either be tangible or intangible, such as tickets to a nice movie, or allowing them to play video games for slightly longer after a particularly hard study session.

3. Encourage your child not to leave the room.

Leaving the room opens them up to new distractions.

Perhaps, they are leaving the room during a study session for an innocuous enough reason, such as retrieving study materials from another room, or getting a drink or snack. However, once they leave their study rooms, they open themselves up to a whole world of distractions, outside of their carefully curated study rooms. Leaving the room to get a quick drink might very quickly turn into a “let's sit on the couch for a bit and watch TV with our drink, we've worked so hard” for your child.

Because of this, allowing your children to leave the room during their study session is generally a bad idea. Instead, consider staying in the room with your child to ensure that they keep at being focused, and offer to get them snacks and drinks, while they continue studying. This minimises the opportunities for your child to wander off, out of their rooms and into distraction. If you are unable to stay in the room with them due to other tasks needing to be done, give your child a timer for when they get to leave the room, and set it for a quick two or three minutes that they can leave the room and get whatever it is that they need. When the alarm rings, you can come in to check on them and encourage them to continue studying.


The best way to keep your child concentrated is to get them to minimise their own distractions, and be truthful to themselves about what tempts them away from their studying and why. Setting alarms and gamifying their studying can be a great way to encourage accountability, both to your child's studying and themselves.

Be realistic about the time your child studies for. While it might be tempting to push them to have a three-hour study session, one hour study sessions with five-minute breaks in between are much more manageable and less stressful for your child.

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