Gone are the days when we would frantically copy down notes from the blackboard before the teacher could wipe it clean. Children these days have it easy - they simply pull out their smartphones and snap a picture of the content on the board with their high definition cameras. Or, they are sent a powerpoint presentation of the content to their email ids. While this has surely made it easy for them to access notes and lectures at a later date, it brings with it a worrisome trend - children, increasingly, do not see a purpose in paying attention in class.
They simply put it off, only to pull it up again on the day before exams. There’s a lot more to education than the class notes - the teacher’s inputs, the lectures and what was taught in class cannot be easily duplicated later on personal devices. If students restrict themselves to digital materials alone, they are not fully ‘learning’. This directly affects their education, their grades and, in turn, their college and work prospects.
Smartphone notes have the added drawback of being stored in a device full of distractions. With notifications chiming in from multiple accounts and applications, children find it increasingly difficult to hold their attention towards the subject at hand.
Back-To-School Tips for Zero Distractions
With the school season right around the corner, here are a few tips that your children can follow to ensure that they pay attention.
1. The first step is to find their motivation or, in other words, the ‘why’ factor. For your children, the why can be ‘getting into a good university’ or ‘getting that dream job’ they have always wanted. For younger children, you can talk to them about how a good grasp over a subject can help them make better decisions and earn higher grades. It is never too early to talk to your children about how focused learning can help them contribute to their community. Once they fully understand this, they would themselves keep away from distractions and focus on the subject they are learning.
2. Next, it is crucial for them to separate their learning materials from the distractions of the phone. We suggest moving the notes from their primary phone to a separate device with fewer applications. If you have a family iPad, that can be used to store and retrieve notes. This way, they can focus on the notes without being distracted by notifications.
3. The next step for them would be to put their personal phones away. We suggest keeping them in a separate room, altogether. In fact, a better idea would be to physically hand over their devices to someone they trust, like a parent or a close friend. When they’ve studied for a couple of hours or more, they can use their device for ten minutes. Of course, it is important for them to stay disciplined, not thinking about the ten-minute-break during their uninterrupted study time.
4. Understand that distractions can come from anywhere, and not just mobile phones. Sometimes, our very thoughts can come in the way of assimilating information. We recommend that your children meditate for at least 10 minutes every day for improved focus and concentration. According to this study, getting back to work after the smallest distraction can set someone back by almost 20 minutes! Equip your children to fight mental distractions. A simple solution for them would be to question if what they are bothered by now will affect them in one year. If the answer is ‘no’, there is no reason to stress about it!
5. Your children can also use technology to fight technology by placing their phones on airplane mode or disconnecting from WiFi. In addition, parents can also use screentime applications to lock certain apps for a pre-set duration.
6. Last but not least, give them foods that help them stay focused. A fatigued person is easily distracted. Berries, vegetables, and even dark chocolate have been known to improve a person’s concentration. Avoid carbohydrate-heavy foods as they can make your children feel drowsy very quickly.
Success in any endeavor depends heavily on undispersed focus on the effort at hand. Helping your children develop an uncluttered physical and mental space to focus on their studies shows them that you have their back. If you find your children struggling to concentrate, try to understand that the underlying issue might be bigger than just distractions. If required, take your child to a healthcare professional for assessments. We wish you and your children all the best for the upcoming back-to-school season!
Writing credit: Authored by Anitha, a mother of two children with interests in EdTech and a strong advocate for Digital Citizenship.
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