Concentration is something that needs to be practiced, and whether your student is in a class of 30 or enrolled in an online charter school, it’s an essential skill they need to succeed. Some kids might be more adept in this area than others, but all kids can learn strategies to improve their ability to focus—even when they’re feeling restless.
Here are 10 helpful ways to build or improve your child’s concentration skills quickly and easily.
Set reasonable attention-span expectations.
The average attention span for an adult is approximately 42 minutes—so you can imagine, a child will be far less. The length of time they can concentrate on a single thing will also be dependent on how interesting they find it.
So, when you give your child assignments or tasks to complete, make sure you’re setting aside a reasonable amount of time. For example, they might only be able to concentrate on a math assignment for 10 minutes (if they despise the subject), but may be able to spend 20 minutes immersed in a favorite book.
Build small breaks into their schedule.
Kids are naturally energetic and need to get that energy out regularly, lest they become restless during school. Building small breaks into their schedule—around the time limit of their typical attention spans—allows them to get up, move around, and expend some of that energy. Giving them this time can actually help them focus better on the next task too!
Harness their energy for good.
We know children are full of energy, so why not use it to your advantage? You might notice your child is more energetic around a certain time of day, so plan their more challenging tasks during this time—when their energy is highest. This will also be the time they’re best able to concentrate.
Don’t allow them to multitask.
There are tons of research studies that prove our ability to concentrate diminishes when we try to multitask. To help your kids stay focused on the task at hand, make sure they’re only concentrating on one thing at a time. This might mean no jumping ahead in their schoolwork or removing all distractions from their workspaces, such as cell phones or television.
Give them a proper space and time to do their work.
Creating a distraction-free workspace can make all the difference in how successful your child is in concentrating on their school work. Give them a designated, somewhat boring, space to do their work, and make sure the environment is quiet. If students need the internet or computer to complete their assignment, consider using parental controls to block apps or sites that could steal their attention.
Break down their tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.
Leaving your child with one big task to complete could be overwhelming and might even seem impossible. If you break down their tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces, they’ll only need to hold their focus for that shorter amount of time. As they complete each smaller task, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and be motivated to continue on.
Create a reward system.
If finishing off smaller tasks isn’t motivating enough, you may want to create a reward system to keep them going. Rewards don’t have to be actual prizes or treats; they can come in the form of praise or much-needed breaks. The idea is, if you can get them to spend more time studying or working, they’ll unknowingly be increasing their attention span and strengthening their concentration skills.
Play games that require focus.
Building their concentration doesn’t always need to be associated with longer study sessions. Introducing fun games or activities that require focus will do the trick as well. “Thinking games” such as jigsaw puzzles, word searches, or Go Fish can improve their attention in relation to words, numbers, and pictures.
Other games such as Freeze or Statue, which requires your child to sit still for as long as possible, can familiarize them with stillness and move them away from the restless behavior they might otherwise turn to.
Stick to a routine.
Creating and sticking with a routine will not only help your child develop time management skills, but it will also help program their brain to know when it’s time to concentrate.
If they know that every morning after breakfast, it’s time for school, or every afternoon when they’re done with practice, they get a snack and then must finish their homework, they’ll know what’s expected of them and will jump into “study mode” more quickly.
Teach them deep-breathing exercises.
Sometimes your child’s restlessness can be the result of anxiety. If you find that they lack concentration when it’s time to begin a subject they’re struggling with, you can bring them back to focusing by calming their body to combat any anxiety they might be feeling. Teach them belly-breathing exercises.
Taking a few minutes in between subjects to practice steady, deep breathing will slow their heart rate and clear their mind, which opens them up to better concentration.
What techniques do you find most helpful in calming your child and getting them to concentrate on their work? Connect with us on Facebook and let us know!