Mind & Spirit

How to help your children stay focused

©iStockphoto.com/Goldfarey Image by: ©iStockphoto.com/Goldfarey Author: Canadian Living

Mind & Spirit

How to help your children stay focused

With summer vacation right around the corner, the pressure is on for students to stay focused in the classroom and ace those final assignments. While studying for tests and exams can be downright draining in the last two months of the school year, giving your child a well-deserved break from the academic grind can be just what the teacher ordered. Here are a few ways to help your scholar stay focused.

Ages 6 to 8: Play hooky
No, we’re not suggesting you let your little ones skip school on a regular basis. Since kids in junior grades aren’t typically overloaded with assignments and studying (especially in the last few weeks of the year), planning a fun-filled class-free afternoon will give them something to work toward. "Last year, we picked a day in June and the kids took the afternoon off school to enjoy our pool as a special treat," says Deborah Lowther, a mother of three in Burlington, Ont.

Ages 9 to 11: Workout routines
The days are longer, the weather’s warmer and unwinding outside in the sunshine can help kids relax. "We sign the kids up for triathlons in the spring," Lowther says. "They love getting out for runs, bike rides and swims after school." Lowther says this exercise and outdoor activity not only gives her kids extra energy, but the fresh air helps them catch more z’s, making them more alert in class.

Ages 12 and 13: Turn to technology
Arzana Irani, a teacher in Markham, Ont., brings laptops, iPods and Smart Boards into her classroom for students to use in the last couple months of the year. "The more hands-on the classes are, the more excited the kids get," she says. Moving away from chalkboards and books, and turning their attention to interactive tools also allows kids to enhance their creativity in the classroom. Parents can use this strategy at home by giving kids time to kick back and play fun (and educational) video games such as Science Papa, which explores physics, chemistry and biology basics, and Rhythm ’n Notes, which is perfect for kids studying music.

Ages 14 to 17: Plan group activities
High school students typically have to hit the books harder than kids in lower grades, so let them chill out by planning a group outing. "I take my entire class to an amusement park every spring," says David Lamonica, a science teacher in Woodbridge, Ont. "Sure, it’s a fun trip for the kids, but it’s also a day that applies what they’ve learned in science class to real-world scenarios." Venessa Bertrand, a mom in Allumette Island, Que., says letting her kids hang out with their pals off school property motivates them and gives them a breather from the stress of studying. "This year the kids are inviting friends for a beach party and campout at our family’s cottage," she says.

This story was originally titled "How to help your kids recharge their batteries" in the June 2012 issue.

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Mind & Spirit

How to help your children stay focused