Why is it Difficult to Concentrate on Homework?

A lack of exercise or sleep may make it difficult for a child to concentrate on their homework.
High school or college students may spend time checking their phone instead of concentrating on homework.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 July 2014
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Modern classrooms are designed to encourage and support the learning process, while many modern homes have become repositories for video games, movies, personal computers, cellphones with texting capability and a dozen other popular distractions. Attempting to concentrate on homework in an environment filled with so many temptations can often be an exercise in futility for many students, even those with exceptional discipline. In order to concentrate on homework, a student needs an environment which encourages mental focus and minimizes distractions.

Contrary to popular belief, most homework assignments do serve an important purpose in the educational process, and are not just "busy work" projects designed to torture students after school. A math instructor, for example, may only have enough time in a class period to explain a complicated formula and work out a handful of examples in front of the entire class. By assigning additional questions for the students to work out independently, the instructor can reinforce the concept or process through repetition. A student who completes 20 examples at home is more likely to learn the material than a student who only observes a few examples in class.


One reason it can be difficult to concentrate on homework is because a student's home and classroom environments are rarely similar. A classroom is designed to contain very few distractions or creature comforts, while a student's home is designed for different purposes, from sleeping to entertaining to eating. Setting up an area in the home for purposes of schoolwork can help a student concentrate on homework without the distraction of siblings, parents, friends or television. A home office or spare bedroom should be an improvement over a child's distraction-filled bedroom or a communal living room.

Another reason some children find it difficult to concentrate on homework is the mental transition from school to home. A school day is generally very structured, with strict adult supervision and time management. Once a child returns home from school, however, he or she tends to adjust to a less regimented part of his or her day. The idea of working on school-related projects while in a home environment often calls for a different mindset. This is why many parents encourage their children to concentrate on homework during the transition period from school to home. It can be very difficult for a student to focus on schoolwork once he or she has been home for a few hours.

Some children find it challenging to concentrate on homework because of sleep deprivation. Spending an entire day in a school environment then returning home for more evening activities can leave a child feeling exhausted mentally and physically. By the time a student is ready to concentrate on homework, it may be time for bed. Working on any task when overly tired or sleep-deprived is never easy, and many homework assignments have strict deadlines. A student who procrastinates on a homework assignment may find himself or herself working long into the night in order to complete it on time.

While homework may seem especially cruel to many students, it does serve a useful purpose or two. Learning to manage time and meet responsibilities with minimal supervision is one lifelong benefit of doing homework, as is repeating a difficult process until it becomes familiar or second nature. Minimizing distractions, adopting an educational mindset and avoiding procrastination should help a student concentrate on his or her homework and learn the material much faster.


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