My child does not like to sit and listen, will that affect their performance at school?
How can I get my child to concentrate and focus on an activity for longer?
I am regularly asked these questions by parents.
Concentration skills are important to learn and achieve. Concentration develops as your child matures, however there are some students that require assistance to develop better concentration skills. The great news is that some simple changes can make a huge difference, and lots of the changes can be FUN
‘The kids who behave themselves at school are the smart kids’ – Jayden 9 years old
Sometimes children need help to realise the importance of concentration in the classroom. While it is usually obvious to adults; if you concentrate on a task you will master the task. We have learnt this through trial and error. Experience teaches the necessity of concentration. Sometimes we need to help children to learn the importance of this. Self control, concentration and working memory are skills related to executive functioning. Research has shown that executive functioning is an essential skill necessary to prepare your child for school. The ‘Ready 4 School’ program encourages these skills related to executive functioning. There are some other ways your child can contribute to these skills also:
10 ways to develop concentration
1. Get the Jiggles out; Physical activity:
A child who is physically active each day is best able to concentrate. A recent study that was reported in the UK Telegraph highlighted the importance of keeping your children active to assist with concentration.
The study published in the journal Pediatrics, found those who did the daily routine saw substatntial improvements in their ability to pay attention, avoid distraction and switch between cognitive tasks- Laura Donnelly and National News, 29 September 2014
You can read the whole article at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11126713/An-hour-of-exercise-a-day-boost-childrens-concentration.html
2. Don’t overload your child’s schedule:
When we overload our children’s timetable, we are teaching them to move quickly between activities without giving them adequate time to focus and reflect on the activities that they are interacting in. The modern parent – author included, often falls victim to our busy lives. Rushing your child between several activities a day could actually be hindering the development of their concentration skills. Even in our classes we sometimes have children who are attending several activities that day. Consider your child’s timetable and plan for quality rather than quantity.
3. Memory Games or ‘Concentration’:
This is an absolute favourite of mine. Every literacy and numeracy skill that we introduce at ED Specially 4U is reinforced with a memory match game. Children of all ages (even our older tutoring students) will be excited by a game of memory match. Why is this so successful? For concentration memory match offers children the chance to match characteristics without fear of failure therefore they enjoy playing the game and will attend to both the content and the activity for a longer period of time. The students need to focus on matching the correct pair as well as using their memorization skills to recall where the correct pairs are located. As a teacher it is wonderful to watch our students grow from only achieving one or two matching pairs to being able to match many pairs.
ED Specially 4U offers some memory match games which will assist your child’s concentration to develop. We recommend:
Ages 2-6 years:
Number Object Memory Match
Ages 6-8 years:
4. Board Games:
require the player to follow instructions, the rules of the games and focus on the completion of the activity. In a fun situation children develop their concentration skills with reward of trying to be the ‘winner’
5. Electronic Devices:
This learning resource is a dilemma in the household of every family I have met. Electronic devices offer many fantastic learning experiences, unfortunately there can also be a down side. Research suggests that the use of electronic games should be both monitored and controlled.
Good educational software and apps assist children to learn. Time spent attending to a task on the device is beneficial and specific skills can be developed as well as increased concentration attained. As a parent, you need to be conscious of how long your child is using the electronic device and what they are accessing. Be aware and be involved.
6. Share a book:
MY FAVOURITE activity! As I discuss constantly, reading and sharing a book teaches many many many important skills.
Books are as motivating as they are enjoyable! Make sure you choose a book that is relevant and motivating to your child. Discuss the book, discuss the characters. Revise the storyline with your child. Allow your child to predict what is going to happen as you read through the story. Discuss why things have happened, and how your child might feel in the same situation. Not only are you developing your child’s concentration as they focus on the book, you are also building important stepping stones toward comprehension. Books are an enjoyable way to encourage your child’s concentration
7. Encourage interests:
Concentration is developed when a child is motivated by the content of what is being taught. Think about your child’s interests, and assist them to spend time developing this interest.
Allow your child the opportunity to discuss things they are interested in:
look at books,
watch youtube information about it,
make up games using the knowledge they have of the specific interest
For example, a recent obsession with ‘Harry Potter’ in my house has been encouraged with the purchase of the books, watching the movies, making wands, creating spells, learning scripts, and playing out the storyline (as well as changing plot at times to create extensions of the story). On their own; the children have researched ‘Harry Potter’ amusement parks and sets as well as the history of the author and the writing of the books. Powerpoint presentations have been created and presented. It has felt like a complete author/book study, and yet none of the tasks were seen as difficult and were child lead based on strengths and interest in the subject matter.
8. Patterning, Sequencing and ‘Odd one out’:
Being able to repeat patterns and sequences in games is another concentration builder. Taking time to focus and attend to this activity develops a child’s concentration skills. To be able to pattern or sequence your brain needs to process the information and then use this information to make appropriate changes. ‘Odd one out’ is a very popular learning strategy as the children have to process the information that is required and remember missing components. These skills could also be called ‘games for the brain’
9. Listening Games’:
There are many commercially produced games that involve listening skills.
You can even play the simple games such as ‘Simon Says……’ when you have to concentrate on the detail of the game.
There is a saying that the best way to learn a new skill is to teach the skill. Re-telling information is a perfect example of this. Ask your child to teach you how to do something they like to do. For example: how to make a specific craft or how to complete a sport task. Children love to have an opportunity to teach an adult, and the process of re-telling the skill will assist with your child’s concentration.
Concentration is important for your child to succeed at school.
We hope you have great fun while you encourage your child’s concentration with these games and activities. Please let us know how you have enjoyed our suggestions.