Do I Need To Be Concerned About My Child’s Concentration?
Honestly? I am! We live in such a busy media filled world now-a-days. We’re bombarded with images and music wherever we go. Can you think of the last time you went into a shop or a restaurant without music playing in the background? I can’t! Our kids lives are filled with after school clubs for gymnastics, judo, swimming, you name it and we ferry our kids to and from it ‘enriching” their lives. All this visual and auditory stimulation and all these adult led, structured activities mean my kids actually don’t get much opportunity to quieten down outside distractions, focus, tune in and really CONCENTRATE.
If my kids don’t develop an ability to concentrate I can see that it’ll have huge implications for their futures and for their happiness!
On a basic level if my kids can’t concentrate then they can’t amuse themselves when the structured adult led activities aren’t there. I want my kids to be able to create their own entertainment, to enjoy settling down with a book or doing a puzzle. I want my kids to be able to focus and concentrate so that they can develop their creativity, maybe working with paints or writing a story or acting in play.
On a social level if my kids can’t concentrate then they can’t listen in class for lengths of time and they may fall behind and feel frustrated. If my kids can’t concentrate then they’ll find it hard to build good communication skills. I want my kids to be able to engage with others meaningfully.
We all know that in general kids’ memory and concentration develops with age. But there are lots of really simple and easy things we can do at home to help encourage and support that development too.
Can We Improve Concentration?
Yes, sure we can! Attention span or concentration is the amount of time a child can focus on something before losing interest. When we look around we can see that each child is unique; some children can stay absorbed in an activity for a long time whilst others seem to butterfly from one thing to another unable to focus for a length of time. It’s important not to judge or compare here. There is no right or wrong and each child will develop at their own rate. You should certainly never try to force a child to concentrate but there are ways however that we can help kids tune in and reach their potential.
Activities To improve Concentration
Activities to help your child develop their concentration skills can be broadly split into two different types, productive activities and receptive activities. It’s a great idea to try to regularly offer kids a variety of experiences from both of these. Some of the activities are ideas for children to do individually and some are ideas we can do together with our children. Mix it up regularly and have fun.
Improve Concentration With Productive Activities
Productive activities are ones where the child is actively involved in doing something. These kinds of activities do not have to have an end product but lots do. Children can greatly benefit from knowing where the start and finish of an activity is. Having a goal to aim for can help a child focus and concentrate through to the end.
Lots of children are good at concentrating and are happy to face an activity that is demanding of their attention. If however your child is struggling with concentration it’s important to provide activities that they have a good chance of success with. If for example you are introducing a jigsaw puzzle, match it to your child’s level of concentration not the age on the box.
Great examples of productive activities are (Includes affiliate links for your convenience):
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Matching games e.g simple pairs game
- Shape sorters
- Stringing beads…to challenge them further you could ask for a specific sequence of colours or shapes.
- Board games – these are lovely for building social skills and turn taking too.
- Dominoes – we-re thinking the colourful building topple runs type, not the number game.
- Chess and Draughts…fantastic for older children.
- Children often have favourite play items and we can use this enthusiasm to build their concentration skills by encouraging them to do specific tasks with them that stretch their concentration. We’ve given a few examples below to get you started:
Sand play – make the tallest/longest sand castle.
Toy Cars – order them from fastest to slowest or run them down a ramp and see which travels the furthest.
Water Play – find 5 things that sink/float.
Cuddly Toys – order them from smallest to biggest/ sort them into colours.
- Craft Activities – we love open ended process art activities but closed/specific craft activities with a specified finished product can be useful too to improve concentration. Children can benefit from following steps through one at a time. Choose a craft or art activity that fits their interests, we’ve got lots of fun ideas on our sister site Kids Craft Room.
Improve Concentration With Receptive Activities
These are activities where a child watches or listens to take in information.
Great examples of receptive activities are:
- Messages- asking your child to take a verbal message to someone. Start simple with one item like telling Dad that diner is ready and build it up as your child’s concentration grows to tell Dad dinner is ready and could he water the plants and turn off the outside light before he comes in.
- Story Time – read a page or two of a story and ask questions about it.
- Pictures – look at a picture together for 1 minute and then ask each other questions. such as what colour were the boy’s trousers? How many cups were on the table. Kids will love catching you out!
- Shopping Time – when you go shopping ask your child to remember two or three things on the list.
- Kims Game – put a few items on a tray and give your child a minute to look at them. cover them up with a cloth and remove one item. Can your child say what is missing? Kids will love doing it for you too.
- Guess Who game – this is a fun game where kids try to find a particular character by asking their opponent questions. They have to concentrate hard on the right questions to ask and of course listen carefully to the answers.
- Who Am I game – this is where you write the name of an object/person/place/animal on a post it note and stick one on each player’s forehead. Each player then takes turns asking questions to try to find out what animal etc they are.
Building Concentration Should Be Fun!
Whatever activity we’re providing for children we’ll find that some kids will concentrate well on some activities and some won’t. What one child loves another doesn’t! Different kids find different things interesting and we must remember and respect that. I think of myself as a good concentrator but I still remember my awful math lessons when I was in teacher training collage. They were the worse part of my week. As much as I love math I just couldn’t tune in to that particular teacher’s way of explaining and it all seemed so dull and an hour would feel like four! If a child isn’t focusing ask ourselves do they like the subject? And then ask ourselves if we are giving it to them in a format that works for them? Be fun, be engaging.
Whenever we’re giving kids an activity to do we need to make sure that the surroundings and timing are right for asking a child to concentrate and focus. If the TV or radio is on in the background how can we expect them to focus? If they are tired, hungry, anxious or super excited to be going to their friend’s party at 3 O’clock it may not be the best time for a “building concentration activity”
If you introduce an activity to improve concentration that you think is amazing but it’s just not holding their attention, don’t take offence, just gently bring it to a quick end and move on to something different, then try again another day or with something else.
Regularly vary materials to stimulate your kid’s interest and time it wisely. We want to allow them enough time on each activity to get fully involved but not so long that they get bored. We need to make the activities achievable and vary them and according to our child’s needs and likes.
Activities that help improve concentration can be loads of fun to do together and can be easily incorporated into daily life. I hope you have lots of fun connecting with your child and concentrating together!
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