My Child Is Smart but Can't Focus: How Can I Help?


When you’re a parent, you want to make sure that your child is putting their all into everything they do, from homework to extracurricular activities. You know what they’re capable of, and you want to see that full potential in their results. But sometimes, their capabilities aren’t showcased in their grades.

Being smart doesn’t automatically mean that your child will get A’s on every assignment. Many kids who are able to find creative solutions to problems, understand meaningful readings or repeat little-known facts can have a lack of focus that interferes with their education.

If you want to help improve your child’s focus, we’re here to help you guide them toward success.

How to help your child improve their focus

Focus — or attention, as you may hear your EF coach refer to it — is an essential Executive Function skill. Developing it now can benefit children for years to come. Focus means applying concentration on completing a specific task, absorbing information, or actively listening to a person speak. 

Focus is a skill that’s used in every aspect of your child’s life, from school to chores at home. However, in many cases, you may not recognize that your child has trouble focusing until it’s reflected in their schoolwork.

A lack of focus doesn’t mean a lack of intelligence. Not only can anyone struggle to focus sometimes, but it’s especially a challenge for those with ADHD. If your child is smart but they’re having trouble focusing, there are ways that you can help them develop the skill. 

  • Timed practice at home — Practice is a tried-and-true strategy for developing every type of skill, including focus. It can be helpful to put aside time for your child to learn how to concentrate on a task by practicing it with a timer. Perhaps you set aside 20 minutes for them to focus on one activity without interruption or external distractions. It could include studying for a specific class or reading a book. As they improve over time, the allotted time can be gradually extended.
  • Learn mindfulness practices together — It’s never too early to learn how to be present and aware of your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness practices, such as intentional breathing or belly breathing, can help your child clear their mind as a way to sharpen their focus on a task or situation. You can do these practices together at home. It can help them learn self-control and reduce distractions in environments where they need to focus, such as a lesson in class.
  • Help them avoid procrastination — We’re all guilty of putting off responsibilities from time to time, but that can make it even harder to focus when the time comes to actually do them. Procrastination is often the result of low interest in a task, making it difficult to concentrate. Procrastination can also lead to your child feeling rushed due to deadlines, preventing them from focusing on the quality of the work just to get it done. Encourage them to start tasks as soon as possible, even if it doesn’t all get done at one time.
  • Break it down — One of the most effective strategies for increasing focus and reducing overwhelm is by “chunking,” or breaking one task down into smaller steps. Limit the directions and organize them as single, manageable steps. Your child is likely to focus more efficiently when they don’t try to multitask or remember too much information at one time.


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The importance of focus for your child’s future

Focus is often seen as one of the pillars of your child’s educational success. But the importance of focus goes beyond their schoolwork. Helping your child improve their focus can provide them with lifelong benefits that will strengthen their productivity, relationships, and stress management. 

Here’s how improving your child’s focus now will benefit their overall quality of life:

  • Increasing efficiency — By improving their focus, your child will learn how to use their time and energy efficiently. High efficiency will improve the overall quality of their work, both now and in their future endeavors, whether that be in the workforce, helping their community, or following their creative passions. 
  • Developing quality relationships — Having healthy relationships with friends, family members, and peers can play a large role in a child’s overall well-being. Focus is required in relationships because you have to be able to truly listen and understand the people around you, especially when you’re trying to work through a conflict together. Providing undivided attention shows that you truly value what they have to say.
  • Managing challenging situations — It’s important that your child learns how to manage the mental, physical, and emotional distress that can come from overwhelming schedules, unexpected life changes, and everything in between. By developing focus as a skill, they’ll be better equipped to work through stressful situations as they appear by concentrating on a solution, not the anxiety that stems from the problem.


Beyond BookSmart can help your child increase their focus and recognize their potential

Being smart doesn’t always equal being focused on children. As a parent, you can help boost their focus with some of the strategies we’ve discussed, such as chunking and practicing mindfulness. If they need a bit more assistance, we’re here to help.

At Beyond BookSmart, we offer Executive Function coaching services to help students develop and improve the skills they need to create an effective and workable study routine, such as focus. Executive Function skills are life management skills that we all need in order to be effective in planning, initiating, and achieving goals at home, in school, and in the workplace.

It’s also possible that you find it difficult to focus as an adult, and that’s OK. You can work alongside your child as a team to improve the skill and learn effective strategies together. Our WorkSmart division can help adults develop Executive Function skills, such as focus, organization, and time management.

Executive Function skills are coachable, trainable, and can be applied for success. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an inquiry call.

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