Concentration is defined as the ability to direct all your effort and attention on one thing, without thinking of other things (Oxford dictionary). We often hear parents complaining that their kids do not concentrate on their work and are very fidgety.
It is a huge challenge to get kids to sit in one place, focus on their homework or studies and finish it without getting distracted and leaving the task incomplete. This is because children, by nature, are very enthusiastic and energetic, which makes it difficult for them to sit with one task for a long period. However, it is not impossible to get them to focus on the task at hand and increase concentration skills for longer periods.
1. Divide tasks into smaller tasks
It is easier for a child to process information and concentrate when it is provided in smaller chunks. An entire chapter might be too big a portion for the child to concentrate on. However, if it is broken into smaller chunks, the child will be able concentrate on that one part. This helps the child feel accomplished and motivated to go on.
Heavy tasks that requires a lot of time, commitment and attention might intimidate the child and make her or him reluctant to tackle it. A smaller task, on the other hand, will seem easier to carry out and the child will be less resistant.
2. Reduce distractions
Kids might find it tough to not give in to distractions, unless they are seriously involved in some task that they don’t want to take their eyes off. Parents should ensure that the surrounding in which the child learns, studies or perform tasks should be as free of distractions as possible. Distractions from the television, music and other internal sources should be avoided so as to not distract the kid. It is also suggested that the child should not watch TV while doing homework or studying since it will disrupt attention.
3. The ‘Concentration Games’
It is important to let kids play. During the study time, it is suggested to give them small games as breaks or to help them remember what they have studied.
Some games that they could play are crosswords, memory games, jigsaw puzzles and other such games that are both fun and help improve the child’s attention skill. These games also help increase concentration.
Games like ‘Statue!’ helps in making kids sit in one place for a long period, so they do not develop the urge to get up every 15-20 minutes. Ask the child to sit in one position for a while and see how long he or she can do that. Repeating this game for a while will ensure that the child will get used to sitting longer in one place, thus helping them sit down for longer periods and concentrating on given tasks.
4. Rest Boosts Concentration in Kids
It is important that kids do not stay up too late in the night and that they get enough sleep at night. Resting the body and brain is vital to improve the child’s concentration levels. It is encouraged to let the child have a power nap for twenty minutes after school or in the afternoon (which most educational institutions allow for kids) which will boost concentration levels.
All breaks, including washroom, eating and talking, should be taken before the fixed study time as it might inhibit consistency in concentration.
5. Set Achievable Goals
Set a certain reasonable goal that the child has to accomplish. It can be done in terms of tasks or time. The kid can be asked to finish a page in 30 minutes or to learn a certain number of answers by the end of the stipulated study time, etc. This might encourage the kid to focus to finish the goal within the time limits. Some sort of reinforcement also can be given for the same, which will motivate the child further. However, this step should be taken cautiously, considering that some children might find setting limits too compelling, which could cause anxiety and disrupt their focus.
6. Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a means to encourage certain behaviour through a system of praise and rewards. An example would be giving an allowance or treats which encourage children to complete their chores or homework instead of nagging them.
Positive reinforcement helps kids feel good about them, which motivates them to increase similar behaviours for rewards. It usually produces both short-term and long-term benefits as children learn skills and inculcate habits that will prove beneficial throughout life.
With every reinforcement, increase the amount to study and change the reinforcement so that your kid doesn’t get bored of receiving the same reinforcement for every achievement.
7. Create an Easy Schedule According to your Child‘s Capacity
Creating a schedule and repeating tasks every day at the same time over a period of time makes it a habit. It is important to create and maintain a schedule for your kid, irrespective of whether it is flexible or not. Keep in mind your child’s method and pace of learning to create this schedule, as a strict schedule might be difficult for the kid to cope with.
Creating schedules will help the kid learn time management and aids in increasing the child’s concentration skills for all activities.
If a child sits down to do his or her homework consistently during the same time every day, after a point, a minimum effort will be required to sit down to study and focus.
The brain will perceive that it is time to study and make the child more willing to study.
8. Make Changes to their Diet
There are certain foods that help with concentration and others that should be avoided.
A heavy meal should be avoided before studying as it can make the child very sleepy and lethargic, thus inhibiting full concentration. This includes foods like rice, protein rich diets among others.
Sugar or more preferably glucose, in the form of chocolate, fruits or any other form helps the kid stay awake and energized. However, too much of it will make the child too hyper to sit in one place for more than five minutes.
It is also very important that the child compulsorily has an enriching breakfast, as it improves short term memory and attention. Along with this, nuts also have been proved to help with memory and attention span.
9. Lend a Help Handing
It is important that parents help out their children to a certain stage to sit and study. Studies show that most kids concentrate better when their parents supervise their learning process. They also spend more time in the tasks allotted to them and do them efficiently.
When the child sees the parent taking an effort to help them out, the child also tends to perform better and put in effort.
Make sure that the child understands the importance of education and of completing homework every day. The small ways that you can help out are by keeping a study area or table only for your child to use.
If you are unable to help your child with homework due to time or other constraints, you can always motivate him or her by showing interest, making necessary arrangements, providing essentials like stationery and praising your child’s efforts.
10. A Tidy and Positive Environment
A hygienic and organized environment might help a child focus better, whereas a chaotic environment might cause the child to be distracted and unfocused. When the environment is cluttered, it restricts the child’s ability to focus. It also inhibits the brain’s ability to process information, due to the presence of excess stimuli. A messy surrounding will draw the child’s attention away from what he or she is supposed to do and distracts him or her from learning.
11. Gradually extend challenges
It is important to extend the challenge as it can cause the child to get bored easily. For example, making your child study the same set of numbers (say 1 -10) everyday will make it monotonous for him or her to study. Instead, ask them to learn a new set of numbers (10-30) and increase the level (from 10 numbers to 20). This will help ensure that the child is interested in what he or she is learning. It is also vital to keep the child’s interests in mind while giving such tasks and to ensure that it is not too stressful for the child.
12. Understand the method of learning
Depending on their capabilities, the ways that kids learn are different. For some, they can process information easily when they see it, some when they hear it and others when they have some previous knowledge of it and can touch it. It is important to understand which one of these categories your child falls under, to aid information processing better and to ensure that the learning is long term.
Visual aids: Some children are able to process information better when they see it. In this case, the child will be able to concentrate better if he or she writes and learns. Some of them make flash cards which when repeatedly shown will help grasp and learn concepts faster. Others make drawings or doodles that help them visualise and understand better. This helps in recalling information sooner.
Auditory aids: Certain children learn better when they hear information. They sometimes read aloud or listen to someone else reading the information, process it and store it in the brain. Listening to music has also proved to help increase concentration in children.
Kinaesthetic aids: Some kids need to be able to touch and feel their subject matter to understand and process it better. For these children, learning by practical applications may be more useful. For example, if a child is learning colours, showing them an apple will help them understand the colour red.
13. Encourage Physical Activities
It is important that kids get some sort of physical exercise to rid the body of pent up energy. This could be done by playing outdoor games or sports, taking them for walks, cycling or enrolling them for such activities. It reduces boredom and restlessness in the child. It also helps them concentrate better on the next task given to them.
Concentration is a skill that can be enhanced and improved. It can be made an automatic response to the situation. The trick is to remain consistent. These 13 tips will help children concentrate better and help with parent-child bonding as most of these have to be done together. The parents play a vital role in motivating the child to concentrate. They observe from their surroundings, so when they observe their parents being focused on one task, they also will pick up the similar behaviour.