How can I help my child focus more when he is reading?


Dear Teacher,

My child is having difficulty reading short stories.  His comprehension and fluency are great and he is actually reading above his grade level.  Unfortunately, he is easily distracted and is having trouble focusing as he does his daily reading assignment.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Dear Parent,

After a long day at school (1) give your child a short break before he starts his reading assignment.  Although it may seem counterintuitive, transitions help children (and adults) to be more productive when they have time to relax before gearing up for the next activity.  With that being said, there are a number of factors that will help him focus to a greater degree.  (2) Create a chart that he can measure his progress on.  It can be as simple as giving him a star every day, so he can “see” how hard he is working.  (3) Additionally, have him do his homework in the same location every day.  Consistency is important and helps to create good habits.  (4) Make sure there are no distractions, such as a cell phone, television or video games within reach. (5) Physical activity is also part of the equation. Recess is not as long as it used to be and some schools no longer include it as part of the school day!  Daily exercise is essential.  In fact, research indicates that physical activity promotes concentration and increases academic achievement!  Consider enrolling your son in an activity he enjoys that he can participate in at least a few times during the week.  (6) Have him use a whisper phone.  These are special phones that amplify sounds, help children focus and create a positive reading experience that increases time on task and academic achievement.  Please note, that children literally “whisper” when they are using their phone in order to hear clearly.  Last, but not least, (7) consider getting out a good book and doing “homework” together.  While your son is doing his daily reading you can read a book too!  If you would like to make whisper phones for yourself and your son I’ve included the directions. This can also be an activity for the whole family!

Create Your Own Whisper Phone!

  • Purchase a 3/4″ PVC pipe and 3/4″ elbow joints (you will need 2 for each phone)
  • Cut PVC pipe into 3 1/2 inch sections
  • Put an elbow joint on each end of the pipe
  • Colorful duct tape can be wrapped around the center of the pipe to make it decorative.


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