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Pencil. Ruler. Paper. Distracted student.

How to help a distracted student to focus in class

The distracted student is well known in the traditional classroom for slowing down the progress of the session. This student daydreams in class, stares through the window and turns whenever someone passes by the door. Sometimes he sneaks a peak at his cell phone and when asked a spontaneous question, he acts dumbfounded.

Teachers become annoyed with the distracted student. They have to stop their lesson to repeat all that was said to bring the lost student back on track. This additional effort is wasted because it does not take a long time before this student is once again distracted.

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What makes a student distracted

Many teachers may view the distracted student as a troublemaker, but there may be problems that should be addressed. This student may be suffering from a developmental delay that has never been diagnosed.

Problems may be hearing loss, linguistic incompetence, Attention Deficit Disorder, or short attention span which might be due to frustration. Or, the student may simply be bored with the classroom environment.

Catering to the needs of a distracted student

This student needs as many focus exercises as possible at home and at school. As an induction to a lesson, a teacher can present a word game like text twist. It must be done within a set time for points. The distracted student will be encouraged to stay focussed throughout the exercise or competition.

A group project demands concentration from all the members of the group including the troubled student in order to be a success. Skits and presentations require that students memorise lines in order to perform in front the whole class.

If all lessons are constructed with a similar active environment, this student will always be alert and focussed for longer periods. Some children, however, may not even respond to entertaining lessons and would prefer not to do school work at all. In this case, being stern is necessary.

Using tough love to help the distracted student

Many teachers and parents can relate to using every suggested strategy ever written to get a distracted student to focus, but with no hope. The last resort which seems to always work is giving tough love.

When fun and games with lessons do not work on a daydreamer, it is time to take away their privileges. The students who seem to be distracted during class time, but suddenly have all the energy and focus to play during break time must be given an ultimatum – focus during class or take no break. This strategy usually works wonders for students whose distracted behaviour is not a cause for serious concern. If it does not work, talk to a child’s therapist about your concerns.

Distracted student. Bad grades. Lack of focus.
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Undisciplined student: Do not give up

Unfocussed student needs interesting lesson

Lazy student: Keeping the class lively

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Attentive student always ready for details

Focussed student and challenges

Disciplined student: Addressing the needs

Outspoken student: Let him be heard

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