Tuesday, March 8th, 2022
Children are by their nature, energetic and curious and as most parents will know it can be a real challenge to get them to sit still and concentrate on a specific task. It’s likely your child will have no problem concentrating on their favourite X Box game or TV programme for potentially hours at a time but when asked to complete their homework their attention wanders almost instantly!
Why is it so important for children to be able to concentrate and focus? The ability to give full and close attention on the task at hand helps them learn, which in turn will build self-confidence and increase positivity, But, it is something many children struggle with, especially if they are working on something they are not really interested in! Learning to concentrate can be difficult for primary aged children, experts believe that typically s child can concentrate for 3 - 5 minutes for every year of their life: so a 5 year old may be able to focus for around 15 minutes, while a 10 year old can stay on task for up to an hour.
Here are 6 simple things you can do which will positively impact concentration and focus:
Time management skillsChildren who are struggling to engage with a task may do so because they think it is boring and will take them a long time to complete. Try to help them appreciate that they only need to focus on this one activity for a certain period of time then they will be free to do other things. Do monitor this though to ensure they really are focused! A timer or stop watch can be useful.
Break big tasks into smaller onesThis goes hand in hand with time management but try to avoid your child becoming overwhelmed by a task which may be challenging or time consuming by simply breaking it up into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Help them to use some simple ‘mindfulness’ techniques to encourage them relax and chill out. Learning how to slow down their mind, use all their senses and ‘be’ in the moment can all help to reduce stress and negatively. There are a huge number of excellent websites and apps that offer activities, e.g. Go Noodle, Khan Kids, Annaba Harris. Just search find something you can enjoy together.
DietThis may be a given for many of you, but a balanced diet with plenty oil water is an obvious way to help children maintain concentration. A hungry child and /or one on a sugar high are unlikely to be able to concentrate and think clearly.
There are several studies which show how beneficial exercise is for children’s concentration. A study in Denmark suggested that walking to school improves concentration and the effects can last all morning. NHS recommends for 5+ aged children at least 60 minutes of activity a day.
A tired child is unlikely to be able to concentrate and produce their best work. Children aged between 5 and 12 years of age need 9 - 12 hours of sleep every night, however research shows that average amount of sleep children actually get is much less. An insufficient amount of sleep correlates to, "obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behaviour," according to the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) website.
Creating a positive environment for learning together at home and fostering the idea that learning is important can improve concentration. Do this a on a regular basis so it become a habit and you will maybe help your child develop a lifelong learning skill.
Contributed by OjO Educator, Christine Havercroft