Is your child having trouble focusing or paying attention? As a parent, helping your child develop focus and concentration skills is important for their success in school and life. With some simple strategies, you can make it easier for your child to focus and make the most out of learning opportunities.
- Minimize distractions when it’s time to focus. Create a quiet place for your child to work or study with few visual and auditory distractions. Turn off any electronics like TV and background music and choose a spot away from busy areas of the house.
- Take regular brain breaks. Periods of focused attention span should be short for young children, no more than 5-10 minutes per year of age. Build in regular brain breaks for physical activity, snacking, or shifting tasks to allow their brain to rest.
- Teach organization strategies. Have designated places to store schoolwork, toys, and supplies so items are not strewn around causing distraction. Use checklists, calendars, or to-do lists to help keep track of tasks and due dates.
- Encourage physical activity and exercise. Physical activity promotes blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Include outdoor playtime, family walks, sports drills or games to get your child active before asking them to focus mentally.
- Pay attention to timing and schedules. Avoid having your child focus on mentally demanding tasks when they tend to be tired or restless. Adjust the schedule to match peak times for alertness and ability to concentrate.
- Supplement with brain-boosting snacks. Food fuels the brain! Offer healthy snacks with glucose, protein and omega-3s during study time. Good choices include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs and fatty fish.
- Teach focus cue strategies. Provide your child with cues to “switch on” their concentration. This could be closing their eyes and taking deep breaths, sitting upright with hands folded, or repeating an intention statement.
- Praise effort and focus stamina. When you see your child demonstrating concentration, persistence or effort, offer specific praise. This reinforces the behaviors and motivates them to replicate success.
In today’s world of constant stimuli and distractions, focus is a difficult skill for children to develop. Attention issues are also common in those with learning disabilities. Be patient in your efforts — it takes time and consistency. But teaching concentration strategies now will serve your child tremendously in reaching their potential at school, home, hobbies and life.