Beat the Timer
Beat the Timer is a strategy to help children focus and stay on task by providing shorts amount of time and specfic expectations for an activity.Children often have difficulty maintaining focus on a task for more than a few minutes. This is particularly true for tasks they do not enjoy. Of course this isn't exclusive to children, adults struggle with this too!Beat the Timer can be used as a "light at the end of the tunnel" to help kids do focused work and build their stamina to focus longer. Set the timer for a short period of time and ask the child to do focused work until the timer goes off. When the timer goes off, take a break to do something fun and rewarding. If the task was not completed before the timer was done, revisit the task after the short break and set the timer again for another short period of time.For example, say your child does not enjoy math but has a worksheet to complete. Ask the child how long they think they could work on it before needing a break. Perhaps five minutes is a good place to start. Set the timer for five minutes. While the child is working, you can reinforce their attention with praise, saying things like "you're doing a great job, keep it up". Respond to distracted behaviors with low emotion. When the timer goes off, praise the child for their effort and give the child a break! Resist the urge to extend the timer because the child is working well.Next time, challenge the child to work a little longer before needing a break. This will develop the child's endurance for tasks they do not enjoy.