How to Help Teens Learn to Focus

The ability to focus is critical in academic and professional endeavors, so it is important for teenagers to develop this ability.

Teenagers are easily distracted from school work and other priorities by social and personal activities. It can be difficult for even highly intelligent teenagers to focus on homework amid all the other goings-on in their lives. Sports, friends, romantic relationships and family life often interfere with their ability to focus on academic work and other important responsibilities. Fortunately, there are different ways to help teens learn to focus.

Reduce unnecessary distractions. Turn off the radio and television during study time, meals and other activities. Restrict phone use to “free time,” unless your teenager needs to call a classmate for homework help or other school-related questions.

Designate certain hours for homework, chores and other responsibilities. Develop a routine so your teenagers become accustomed to spending a few hours each day fulfilling academic and other responsibilities before they are allowed to pursue recreational or social activities.

Encourage your teenager to read for pleasure and have quiet time each day. Reading helps the mind to focus, concentrate and develop attention skills that are deteriorating in a generation inundated with social media and other stimuli. Allow your teenager to choose what he reads for pleasure, so that he learns to appreciate and enjoy reading.

Show your teenager how to use a calendar or personal day planner to keep track of homework, assignment deadlines, work hours, sports practice, extra-curricular activities and other duties. Have the teenager handle the calendar so that she learns to manage time effectively and responsibly.

Study with your teenager to help him develop concentration skills. Instruct him to take notes when reading to keep track of important information. Also, help him to make flash cards to review spelling, vocabulary or essential facts in a subject area.

Ask the teenager to summarize reading assignments. Do this on a daily basis so that the teenager learns to read for content, rather than for completion. Discuss the details of reading assignments so that he learns to focus closely on the text. For math assignments, ask your teenager to explain his work or to talk aloud as he completes problems. Narrating his steps will help him to focus attention on the problem.

Audrey Farley began writing professionally in 2007. She has been featured in various issues of "The Mountain Echo" and "The Messenger." Farley has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Richmond and a Master of Arts in English literature from Virginia Commonwealth University. She teaches English composition at a community college.