Dealing with children concentration problems sounds challenging, but these tips help in improving a child’s concentration, attention span, and focus.
Before you start, tell me what captures and holds on your attention?
Something which is interesting, fun, challenging, and exciting.
And how do you feel when you struggle to understand something?
Frustrated! isn't it?
Similarly, our children focus wanders when they do not understand what is being explained to them.
Each child learns differently and most of the time we are unaware of their learning style. Children can be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners. Knowing their learning style gives you options to choose material, which works for them.
Remember! Children do not learn unless they enjoy and understand.
That's why, first, Identify your child’s learning style, whether they are:
Visual learners: For visual learners, use lots of images, videos, and real scenarios.
Auditory learner: Auditory learns best by listening. When someone reads out to them, they learn better.
Kinesthetic learner: kinesthetic learner learns best by doing.
Knowing your children’s preferences give you an option to develop the environment congenial for learning.
Some like silence to concentrate while some want music. Check with your child what works best and act accordingly.
Make learning fun and engaging:
The biggest challenge of learning is to make learning fun and engaging that holds learner interest. Unless children are tempted to learn, they won’t effectively learn. How to make learning fun and engaging?
Try Curiosity, Anticipation and Timely interest.
Children are curious by nature. They want to explore-when we feed their natural curiosity, they pay attention.
Nurture curiosity, ask questions, help them figure out answers.
While teaching makes the topic interesting, introduce a relatable question, create curiosity to find out more and move towards exploring the answer.
Break the usual pattern, try out different ways to learn.
Experiment with songs, games, videos, use different ways to present concepts.
They have a short attention span, so switch, bring in change before they lose interest. Develop timely interest.
Break the task into small chunks:
Pick a chapter
Break into sections and ask your child to finish section by section.
Once they finish a section, they could see what they have learnt.
This gives them a feeling of accomplishment and builds intrinsic motivation.
Give breaks in between:
Once they have studied for a certain period, give them a break for 5 min and ask them to come back again.
Brain breaks help to focus.
Set a timer:
Set a timer to keep track how much they achieve in the given period of time. It also develops accountability. Based on the attention span, it is advisable to set the timer of 15-30 min.
Pose a question before they start:
Before starting the lesson, ask questions. Starting with questions generates curiosity and moves the brain from passive learning to active learning.
Write answers once done:
Ask them to write the answers what they have learned in the chapter.
Writing answers require attention. When they write, they process information and enhance learning.
Introduce focus inducing activities:
Give your child puzzles, Sudoku, spot the difference, and games which boost concentration.
The more they practice, the better they get.
Encourage them to learn to sit and focus on one activity at a time.
Nikita, a mother, said she tries different games to inculcate habit of staying focus for few minutes at least, “I play statue with 5-year-old, otherwise making him sit for 2 minutes is also a challenge. But when we play statue, he tries to hold on his position for certain duration.”
“I ask my 4-year- old to sort out different colours balls, she enjoys the activity and slowly she is learning to stay on a task for a certain period of time,” told Maya.
Try out games:
You can also try out games and activities depending on the child’s age and interest. Start out by setting a timer for 2-5 min to keep them on a task, slowly increase the duration for a little longer.
Drawing, doodling, painting, puzzles, Legos building is some activities which work in holding their attention span.
Encourage single activity at a time:
Children need to learn to focus on one thing at a time.
Remove all distractions around when they study.
When they play, let them play without TV running in the background. They need to learn to pay attention to the environment and improve observation power.
“My daughter needs her favourite show to run while she eats. Most of the time without realising what or how much she ate. Initially, I allowed her because she was a fussy eater. Then it turned into a habit to do everything with TV. Now I am struggling to cut down the habit.”
Make them feel responsible for their acts. Encourage children to take ownership of their study when they do – appreciate them.
Self-drive comes when they start believing that study and learning is their responsibility.
We find it difficult to control ourselves and keep chasing them to finish homework or study. That gets into a system where children study out of parental pressure, not out of their own liking. That goes a long way.
Prepare a schedule:
Preparing a schedule gives children a head up and clarity. They should know when they have to do what. Last-minute negotiation is taxing for both.
“Whenever I ask my child to leave her favourite cartoon and finish her work, she starts throwing tantrums. Since I clearly told she can’t watch unless the study is over. Now the work is finished before she holds the TV remote.”
Set a designated place for study:
A set place gives the mind a stimulus that now it has to do certain task. Keep stationary and water around to avoid frequent interruptions.
Reduce use of gadgets:
Reduce the use of gadgets. Frequent and long use of gadgets reduces attention span and memory power of children, so try to minimise the use as much as possible.
Talk to your child and strike a deal for the restricted use of mobile, tablets, online games and TV.
Remove clutter from the surrounding:
Research shows that clutter in the surrounding distracts attention. Remove unwanted stuffs from the surroundings.
If the child is working on the computer, close all unwanted tabs.
Certain music helps to soothe the mind and increase attentiveness. Try using music to improve concentration. Maybe your child wants to listen to music while doing homework. Try and see how it goes.
Motivate and reward:
Encouragement builds intrinsic motivation. When you appreciate your child, they develop positive emotions further helping them to concentrate on the task.
While discouragement stirs up negative emotions and children start running away from the activities.
Increase physical activities:
Physical activities provide oxygen to the brain and help in concentration.
Mindfulness is basically the ability to pay attention to one thing at the moment.
Asking your young child to focus on breathing is challenging. But focusing on breathing increases the attention span.
Set 2-3 min to do breathing exercise. Teach them to take deep breaths and move their focus on how they take air in and out.
Anxiety leads to avoidance - the opposite of concentration when they’re confronted with challenging tasks, which can make them anxious.
“Before sleep, I ask my 6-year-old to see how her tummy is going up and down while breathing. For two minutes, I ask her to notice the rhythm. It soothes her mind. Whenever she loses track, I slowly bring her back to activity.”
Sleep and rest:
Ensure your child is well rested. Afternoon nap helps children to rejuvenate lost energy. Tired body clogs thinking and focus.
“When my son comes back from school, he is usually cranky. After he takes his afternoon nap, about 30 min, he looks cheerful,” told Sheja.
Nutritious diet and brain food:
Avocado, walnut, eggs, berries, fatty fish, veggies and greens improve health and brain functioning. Whereas junk food slows down metabolism and reduces mental alertness.
“My daughter resists the sight of vegetables and all the time wants pizza, fries and doughnuts. I can’t allow her all the time. So I mix veggies in roti or other form so she could get her nutrition.”
A well-hydrated body helps the brain to concentrate.
Set a time for distractions:
It won’t be feasible to completely shut down on their digital activities, but they can set a time when they can watch or play. It’s better to take up distractions once they have finished their work.
Take a walk in nature using all your senses:
Paying attention to surroundings and walking in nature using all senses boosts concentration.
When children observe surroundings, they pay attention.
Day by day focus is becoming a challenge in the myriad of distractions. Attention span is shrinking for all of us imagine what it is for our children. We need to help our children get hold of focus. The more we help our children practice, the better they get, because the focus can be strengthened with practice. Using these tips, we can help reduce frustration and our children lack of focus in their studies.
Don’t forget to share these focus tips with your friends and family. Do let us know what works best for you and your child, in the comments below.