It’s long block on a Friday afternoon. Students are ready for the upcoming football game at 3 p.m.. The student sitting at the front desk is almost fully asleep, while the student in the back of the room is already asleep. The rest of the class is trying to think of a way to wake them both up, and soon the entire class has lost focus.
The challenge of paying attention in class has been around since BL’s beginnings 175 years ago. Students can be affected by daydreaming about future breaks, the time of day their class is, and anything other than what’s going on in class.
The time of day can challenges some students because of the sleep they get, or just naturally the amount of energy they have at certain times during the day.
“I struggle to pay attention in class in the afternoon because I am trying to sleep after eating lunch”, said Senior Cam Watts.
The schedule for the day also plays a factor in why kids will struggle to pay attention in class. According to a 2011 study at Columbia State University “material originally learned in afternoons show advantages for long term recall” when compared to material learned in the morning.
The time of year can also affect a student’s focus, especially when there’s a lot to look forward to outside of school.
“It’s hardest for me to focus during the month before winter break”, said Senior Xander Mtimit. Junior Jared Archer agrees. The feeling that school is almost coming to an end for a little while can be a big distraction for students like Archer.
“Around breaks it’s harder to pay attention because I’m ready for break to start and I can’t think of anything,” he said.
Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD) is also a factor in why students may not be able to pay attention in class.
“Attention Deficit Disorder isn’t that you’re not paying attention to anything, it’s that you’re not paying attention to the right thing”…”it is an intersection without a traffic light,” said Upper School Learning Specialist Mr. Roche. He describes ADD as struggling to hear that second voice telling you to make the right decision to pay attention, if that voice is there at all. Mr. Roche, along with Ms. Rosiak and the Learning Center, gives students tips and tricks for when they need to focus in class. Certain objects like a squeeze toy can help a student calm down and focus more on the class itself.
Tyler, an Upper School student who struggles with ADD, has faced challenges throughout his time at BL, but has learned how to become a better student because of it. He has been going to the Learning Center for extra help and it has helped him become a better student.
“They will lay out a study schedule for you so when you stick to the study schedule you begin to know the material,” said Tyler. “When you know what you’re talking about in the class it’s a good feeling and that is why it helps me pay attention.” Tyler’s after school activities have had an effect on the amount of time he puts into his work, but going to Mr. Roche and Mrs. Rosiak has been a huge help to his academic career.
According to the ADD Resource Center, about 11 percent of kids in America have ADD but only 6.2 percent take medication, often because of the side effects.
“I just don’t feel like myself when I am on the medication. I’m not hungry and just feel different from my normal self,” said Tyler.
Teachers can be aware of students with ADD and be prepared with different ways to help them focus.
“If a kid is very easily distracted then I will have them sit in the front row and won’t let them turn around, to help them maintain focus in class”, said Upper School Math Teacher Mr. Bailey.
Little things like where a student sits in class, or who they sit with, can have a big effect on the focus someone has during class.