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Mental focus and school choice

Choosing a school for a mentally-focused or distractible child


When choosing a school for your child, a vital factor to consider is academic fit: what are your child’s most salient academic traits and how might these inform your school search? Here, we’ll discuss one academic trait—focus (i.e., concentration)—and what role it might play in choosing a school for your child.

To learn about how to choose the right school in general, read the Our Kids’ step-by-step advice guide and our expert tips. To get school-choice advice customized to your child's unique traits, create a child profile through your user account and read our seven ways to choose a school based on your child's needs (i.e., overall fitmore academic challengesocial strugglesacademic strugglesintensive learning interestsuniversity preparation, and special needs.).  


Mentally focused and distractible kids' school fit

Kids vary widely in their ability to focus or concentrate in school: while some find this fairly easy, others don’t. Don’t underestimate the importance of your child’s mental focus on school choice: it can profoundly affect the kind of learning environment, and hence school, that’s right for them. Below, we consider how both mentally focused and distractible kids fit in several school types.

Mentally focused kids

Mentally focused kids are good at sustaining their concentration: they normally find it a breeze to focus in class, sustain their focus, and key in on their studies.

Mentally focused kids’ school fit: key take-homes

  • Highly focused kids can thrive in both big and small schools. Like distractible kids, they often do well in small- to medium-sized classes, which tend to provide tailored instruction, plenty of interaction, and the right mix of group and individual work to keep them engaged.
  • While coed schools come with the challenge of negotiating boy-girl relationships, many focused kids manage this well. Single-gender schools don’t have this distraction, but since they don’t offer a coed environment, make sure you give your son or daughter plenty of opportunities to interact with the other gender outside of school. 
  • At a Montessori school, your focused child will often work independently on their own tasks, e.g., during two-hour-plus uninterrupted work periods, which can further enhance their ability to sustain their concentration. 
  • The Reggio Emilia classroom is set up to promote lots of interaction and group learning, which helps focused kids engage even more fully with their work. 

To access far more detailed information about mentally focused kid’s school fit, read our in-depth guide.

Distractable kids

Distractible kids often struggle to sustain their concentration in school. They find it challenging to focus for long periods of time and follow what’s going on in class.

Distractible kids’ school fit: key take-homes

  • Distractible kids often do better in schools with smaller classes, which tend to provide calmer and more engaging learning environments. No matter the size, ensure a school provides plenty of one-on-one support and individualized learning to help build and sustain your child’s focus.  

  • While negotiating boy-girl relations can be a challenge for some distractible kids, many enjoy learning from the perspectives of both genders. Single-gender schools can allow your son or daughter to focus on their studies free of this potential distraction.

  • At a Montessori school, kids often work independently on their own tasks, e.g., during two-hour-plus uninterrupted work periods, which can benefit those who get distracted by too much stimulation. 

  • The warm, community feel of the Reggio Emilia classroom—which is set up to promote lots of interaction—can help your child feel stimulated, focus on their work, and be more productive.

To access far more detailed information about distractible kids’ school fit, read our in-depth guide.

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