Concentration is an essential skill that every child should learn at an early age and continue to develop. However, as children are easily distracted by the stimulating world around them, imparting that skill could be a tall order for any parent.
Here are 15 ways on how to improve focus in kids to help your little one get the ball rolling early.
How to Improve Your Children’s Concentration and Focus
Evaluate Your Child’s Attention Span
The average attention span of a child is about two to three times their age. For instance, a five-year-old can focus for a maximum of 15 minutes. To improve their attention span, ensure that your child isn’t hungry, has a good night’s sleep, and is free of any nearby distractions.
Moreover, you can determine the best time of day, so your child can maximize their focus. It would be best if you built your lessons around that specific time frame.
Teach One Lesson at a Time
For adults, multitasking is an important skill, but children are too young to handle such distracting tasks. So you can give them one objective at a time. For example, save numbers for your next activity if they’re learning the alphabet. And if they’re trying to identify colors, don’t teach them elementary rhymes.
Of course, you can design your activities, so each lesson overlaps. Painting while singing related nursery rhymes is a good example.
Time Your Activities
A child can increase their focus if they know how long they’ll have to maintain that concentration. Thus, always time your activity to let your kid know how much time is left before they can take a break. Doing this will also help you incrementally increase the activity’s duration, helping you and your child track progress.
Always take the time to schedule breaks between activities to help your child recharge. Breaks provide massive benefits like reducing stress and boosting brain function. A study found that the brain doesn’t stop when a child takes a break. Instead, it continuously analyzes memories and information, a process related to constructive internal reflection.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines chunking as a cognitive process where information is broken into smaller pieces for easier recall.
When teaching your child, try to break down the lesson into chunks so they can easily remember what they’ve learned. Your kid will also earn more breaks this way, amplifying the positive effects of the aforementioned constructive internal reflection.
A child’s curiosity plays a significant role in their development, but it can also be detrimental during learning. You can try removing as many distractions around your kid’s vicinity so they can focus on the activity.
Manage Excess Energy
Even if you remove physical distractions, a child’s energy will spur them to take up other tasks. Thus, you can burn their excess energy first before any lessons begin. For instance, you can let them play or spend time with the family pet for a few minutes or ride a bike around the garden before starting your lessons.
Use Distractions Positively
If your child is still distracted after you’ve tried exhausting their excess energy, use the distraction positively. What this means is you’ll need to adapt in the moment.
If you’re teaching them the alphabet and they get distracted by a bird outside, incorporate it into your lesson. Point to the source of the interference – a bird – and say that animal starts with the letter b. So the next time they get distracted by a bird, you can ask them what letter the word “bird” begins with.
Minimize Gadget Usage
Excessive gadget usage is one of the major culprits that negatively impact focus exercises for kids. You can address this by limiting your child’s gadget use.
If your child is younger than two years old, they should have zero screen time, except on special occasions like video calls with family members in other places. Children at two to five years old can have a maximum of one hour of gadget use, provided a parent or guardian is present. If they’re between five and 17 years old, two hours per day is the limit, barring school work or other academic-related activities.
Spend time with your kids to cultivate parental bonds. Read them stories, assemble puzzles, and build Legos – all of these will help your child concentrate. And if you’re nearby, they’ll associate these activities with play. Over time, you’ll strengthen your relationship with them and slowly build the necessary focus for more challenging activities.
Know Your Child’s Interests
Apart from spending time with your kid, you’ll also want to determine the concepts that intrigue them. For instance, you can find books or comics that pique their interest if the lesson is about reading. Maybe they’re curious about music or animals. This is one of the most effective ways to improve children’s concentration and focus as you merge curiosity with valuable educational activities.
Try to conduct your lessons at the same time each day. If you make it a habit to read to and with your child daily at 10 a.m., they will eventually associate that specific time frame with an educational and enjoyable activity.
Understand How Your Child Absorbs Information
Another tip on how to improve children’s concentration and focus is to determine how they absorb information. Your child could be a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. While the first two are relatively easy to teach, the last is trickier.
Kinesthetic learners are kids who constantly shuffle around or fidget during class. These are high-energy children who soak up information faster when physical activity is involved. Thus, teaching them through collaborative activities, ones that utilize multiple senses or those that combine disciplines, might be easier.
If you find that your kid is struggling to understand a lesson, try simplifying it for them. Better yet, reconstruct the task in a way that would resonate with your child. Use metaphors and similes that they are familiar with. For instance, A for Avengers, B for Ben 10, C for Captain America, D for Detective, and so on.
Play Concentration Games
Focus exercises for kids aren’t confined to academic lessons. You can also use games to make them more engaging. Chess, scrabble, crossword puzzles, musical chairs, and Red Light, Green Light are fun activities you can do with your kids.
Want to learn more exciting activities you can work on together? Check out the Rayito de Sol blog for more preschool and kindergarten resources.