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Ask The Expert - Child Losing Focus

by on 16/12/2014 5496

Question : My daughter has recently started her preschool (she is 4 ½ years old). When she first started school, she was always excited about doing her homework and telling me what she learned. After a few months, I noticed that her concentration started to wan. I know that children don’t really have long attention span, but she always seem to be focused on something else when we do her revisions together. I’m not sure if the homework is too difficult for her, or that she has lost interest in school. What should I do?



Answer : Kids with certain learning or attention issues can have trouble staying focused on schoolwork or might get easily distracted. If your child is generally developing well in all different domains, to assist her in a positive and productive way is to help and explore her challenges and suggested conversation starters can be as below:


Difficulty in attention or focusing


What you can say: “I know you try hard to pay attention in class but you get distracted. What helps you to stay focused?”


Tip: It might help your child to stay focused by understanding what rekindle her attention in school and at home. Parents and teachers may walk over and touches her shoulder when she wants him to pay attention or calling her name when she is fizzling off from tasks.


What you can say: “What helps you stay focused when you’re doing homework or activities?”

Tip: Your child may do better in a quiet, orderly space or listening to music might help him concentrate. By understanding what environment provides the best enforcers for her to focus and attends, you will be able to plan better.


What you can say: “What things (noises, people) distract you the most?”

Tip: When parents ask this, it helps to understand if your child need to be seated away from loud or distracting classmates in school. This will allow open dialogue with her teachers for classroom management because it benefits both the child and teacher when she is more able to complete her tasks on her own.



Difficult in starting tasks and Shifting between activities


What you can say: “Remember that big concert project you did last year? You started late and had to give up some fun activities so you could finish it. What do you think would help you start these sooner?”

Tip: To avoid procrastination, you might want to start going over tasks/activities instruction with your child as soon as it is assigned. Talk about where she anticipates she might need help from you or clarification from the teacher. While often many parents and teachers gives verbal instructions, it may be more helpful if the child works best with written instructions.


What you can say: “The pirate ship you’re building looks great, you’re following those instructions really well. But you sure get upset when I tell you it’s time to stop playing and do your homework. Let’s figure out how to make the switch from play to work go better.”

Tip: Help your child find “pause points” in a game or activity to save her work and set it aside for later. You can also try making eye contact with her each time you issue a warning to switch gears or change lanes.


Trouble Keeping Track of Assignments and Staying Organized


What you can say: “I know you have a lot to remember when you’re doing your homework and assignments. And we both get upset when you leave work to the last minute or you forget your book or instructions. Let's try to come up with a system that works for you.”

Tip: There are several things that might help:

  • Help your child clean out her packpack or school bag every day so she has only the materials she needs for her assignments.
  • Mark upcoming due dates on the family wall calendar (if you only have one in your head, it is recommended to make a physical one where everyone can sees) and review it every few days.
  • Ask your child’s teacher to help you put together a simple checklist to tape to the top of your child’s desk. This can help to make sure he brings home the materials she needs.


Sometimes it’s hard to know how it’s going for your child at school. To get a better idea, explore and asking your child questions can help you figure out what’s distracting her. If your child has trouble following directions, try giving her only a few directions at a time. Talking to your child can help you come up with a system to organize her assignments and later in life her life activities. Children seldom hates going to school unless something traumatic has happen which you may discover during your questioning time. 


If you have any question, please email your question to (with email subject "Ask The Expert"). 

Thank you in advance for your participation.



About Our Expert

Professor Dr. Eric Lim is the founder of Kits4Kids Foundation, a foundation that specializes in the education and development of children with special needs.  


He also leads many international social enterprises all around the world. Prof. Dr. Eric Lim holds a PhD in Educational Management as well as Masters of Education, Bachelor of Special Education and Masters of Psychology, focusing on child psychology and counseling. 


He is passionate about helping as many people as he could in spreading the love for children and humanity.


Prof. Dr. Eric Lim is here to answer your questions on:


  • Childhood care (Aged infants and above)
  • Children education
  • Play tools for skills development
  • Family counseling
  • Other relevant areas