How to Boost Homeschooler’s Ability to Focus in a College Classroom

Inside: Learn how to prepare your high schooler for a college classroom setting with this simple SLANT Strategy. Download a printable poster to hang on your wall.


Congratulations! You have a high schooler in your homeschool! Now the reality of preparing him for college hits you like a brick wall. A million questions are running through your head. What classes and how many credits do colleges require? Should he try to take courses at your local college for dual credit? Am I going to have gray hair by his senior year? (Yep, that’s a real concern.) However, something you may not think about is preparing him for learning in a lecture hall environment. 

SLANT Strategy


College After Homeschooling

Until this point, it’s possible that your student has only taken classes at home, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Many homeschool students are excellent independent learners because of this. For this reason, it’s a good idea to give your child some strategies for learning in a classroom atmosphere

Student at table


If you have been part of a homeschool co-op, then most likely your child had a little experience learning in a group setting. However, it will still differ from sitting and listening to lectures and having someone else direct the lessons.  It’s important to give your high schooler some tools to be successful in this setting.


While you may have put your child in control of his own education, the fact of the matter is, college isn’t always set up that way and your son or daughter will have to adapt. The surroundings can be very different:


  • Teacher lecturing
  • Large group of students
  • Taking notes
  • Paying attention and concentrating on what is being said
  • Being an active participant in a group setting

Classroom Atmosphere

I was a schoolteacher for nine years before I left to raise my son. One difficulty in the classroom is keeping everyone involved. It’s very easy for students to get distracted or daydream and therefore miss out on important information the teacher is presenting. Even with the best of intentions, what’s being taught isn’t always exciting, which makes this task even more difficult. 


Your high schooler will run into this same situation in some of his college classes. Whether or not it’s interesting, he needs to pay attention and figure out how to do that.

Different Learning Strategies

Besides teaching regular education, I  also went back for a master’s degree in special education. While earning my degree, I enjoyed discovering different learning strategies. I think they benefit all children, not just special needs and I often used them in the classroom.  


One year, I taught my fifth-grade students a little trick to help them pay attention in class. I told them there were times they may not want to hear what I was saying, but they could act interested by nodding their heads and following me with their eyes and I wouldn’t know the difference. 


When I told them this, they perked up. What teacher says they can pretend to listen? I immediately had their attention and everyone was on board with what I was about to tell them.

My Secret Weapon

The SLANT Strategy was my secret weapon. It’s easy to learn and has great results. This tool teaches the pupil to pay attention, keep his eyes on the teacher, and take part in the lesson. That’s a lot of bang for your buck! And you know what? It worked!

The SLANT Strategy teaches the pupil to pay attention, keep his eyes on the teacher, and take part in the lesson.


With a little practice, a visual reminder on the board, and simple prompts from me now and then, my students had the hang of it and were “pretending” to listen to me. I had students shaking their heads, raising their hands, and doing better on their assignments. And they thought they were pulling a fast one on me!

What’s This Have to Do with a Homeschooler?

How does all of this tie into your homeschool student? I started thinking about how this same technique could work for a homeschooler going off to college. Just because he may not have a lot of experience studying in a classroom environment doesn’t mean he can’t be successful. 


No, you’re not trying to teach him to pretend to listen at this age. Instead, you’re showing him how to stay engaged in a lecture-style setting and stay awake. Because let’s face it, some of those professors can be boring. 


Another reality is students who engage and interact are more likely to have a better relationship with the teacher. It’s easier to get help if needed because it looks like they’re putting forth some effort. 

SLANT Strategy

So what is SLANT? It’s an acronym for a series of actions the student does. You may find a different version online, but this is the way I learned it.


SLANT Strategy


Benefits of SLANT Strategy

Each step of this strategy benefits the learner because it increases his ability to pay attention and therefore gain more from the lesson.

Sit Up

Believe it or not, your child will learn more when he is sitting up. Bad posture in a chair makes the body tired, causes unnecessary strain on the back and neck, and this discomfort makes you lose focus. So encourage your child to sit up straight with his back against the chair and feet flat on the ground. He will be more likely to pay attention and less likely to want to fall asleep.


Lean Forward

When a person leans forward, they are giving the signal they are interested in what’s being said. When a teacher or professor looks around the room, the students doing this look like they are interested and listening, which gives positive feedback. It also helps the student take an active role in the lecture. This body language makes him feel more involved in the lesson.


Teach your high schooler to do this and it puts him in a position to be a better listener.


Act Interested by Asking and Answering Questions

This is a two-part step. First, the simple act of pretending you are interested in something will help you get more out of it. You must concentrate and put forth effort. It’s kind of like the self-fulfilling prophecy. When you tell yourself something over and over, you believe it. The same is true if you pretend to pay attention to someone, you will pay attention. 


Second, asking and answering questions is a great way to clarify information, add to the discussion, and increase critical thinking. Students who do this get more out of a lesson than those who don’t. 

Nod with Your Head

This goes back to the same idea as leaning forward. Your student is taking part in the discussion and lecture by nodding when he agrees with something. He must listen to the teacher to nod at the appropriate times. When a student nods his head, it also tells the teacher he understands and helps gauge who grasps the concept.


Track with Your Eyes

Tracking the speaker goes along with acting interested and nodding your head. It tells the person you are paying attention and attending to what is going on. On the other side of that, by tracking with your eyes, it keeps the brain focused and you are less likely to daydream or nod off.



The SLANT Strategy is very effective. I have seen how it works firsthand in my classroom with impressive results. Here’s the thing, even if your child doesn’t plan on attending college, this is still a valuable tool for any adult. He may have meetings at work, a conference or training to attend, or even go to small groups at church. The SLANT Strategy would be useful during these situations.


So don’t fret over your child going to college and not having been in a classroom before. With this trick up his sleeve, he will pay attention, look like a model student, and you won’t have premature graying hair. 


Download my poster to hang in your homeschool room and start teaching your students to SLANT today!

Do you think your high schooler would benefit from this strategy? How have you prepared him/or her for a classroom setting? Let me know in the comments below.

Hi I'm Heidi. I'm a former teacher turned homeschool mom of three. I've homeschooled from the beginning and my oldest is now graduated. I believe your home doesn't have to be chaotic just because you homeschool. When you join The Unexpected Homeschooler's community, you'll learn how to have a more organized, efficient, and productive homeschool, and I’ll send you this Daily Assignment Sheet tool as a gift to teach your students to work independently and free up your time.

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SLANT Strategy


  1. I’ve never heard of this strategy before, Heidi, but I love it! I could see fifth graders (or middle schoolers) enjoy the “pretending” aspect of doing this. And you’ve thought of the perfect application in applying it to new college students. Thanks for posting.

    • Yes, they really did enjoy it! It’s so easy, yet so effective!


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