How to Improve Concentration Levels of Your Child?
Created by Carol Updated on Sep 25, 2018
“My child gets distracted very easily and is unable to pay attention to a single activity" is a common complaint from parents. But don’t stress as most child development experts also say that the average time a school-going child will be able to focus on one activity is approximately 4 times their age after which they need to change inactivity.
But then comes in the second question: “How children are able to focus for hours on video games and TV and not on studies.” We need to understand that when we have to listen to something we are familiar with or which interests us more, we are able to bring our focus on that subject and listen for longer, as one need not spend more energy. But when we have to focus on unfamiliar things, we need to spend more energy in understanding it, correlating it with other familiar things and retaining it in the memory. This can lead to an early onset of mental tiredness resulting in disinterest. It holds the same for children. Children are able to focus on storybooks or TV for a long time as these are more interesting and children only have less energy on these. Read on to find out how you can help improve your child’s concentration levels.
Why Do Children Lose Focus On Some Activities?
Before we begin with figuring out how to increase the concentration, let’s delve into the common reasons for a child to lose focus. Some are:
- Not Interested
- Academic struggle
- Anxiety and Stress
- Being overactive
How Can I Help My Child Concentrate?
The part of the brain that is responsible for concentration and memory is the frontal lobe of our brain. It is also responsible for thinking, reasoning, managing emotions, problem-solving and decision making. So the concentration skills can be improved by practicing some cognitive exercises regularly which can modify the existing brain cells. The exercises have more to do with the mechanism of how one learns, remembers things, solves the problem and pays attention. So, early intervention is always very effective. But it's never too late to help our children learn to focus.
Memory Games:Various types of memory games can be played with your children as part of cognitive exercises...
- Arrange about 10 of the toys or any household things in a line in a particular order
- Allow the child to observe for a couple of minutes
- The child may form mental imagery or use a mnemonics or any other way to remember the order
- Now shuffle the order and ask your child to arrange the toys in the same order
- For older children, use the order of books on a bookshelf. After they observe the order for a few minutes, without their knowledge either remove a book or change the order of the books. Let them find the right order
Name Chain Game:You can play with as many players as you want
- Let the first player say a name. The second player should say the name the first player said followed by a new name. The third player has to say the first 2 names in the same order followed by another new name
- So the game can go on for many rounds till one person makes a mistake in the order or the name
Follow the Leader:Play the game "Follow the leader" with a series of actions
- Let one of the players be the leader and the rest of the followers. The followers have to do the exact same thing the leader does and in the same order
- If the child has an ear for music, choose different utensils and things made of different materials such as iron, ceramic, glass, copper, plastic, leather
- Let the leader use a plastic mallet or a wooden stick to tap the materials (not necessarily on all the materials) in a certain order in a rhythm. Let the followers observe and tap them in the same order
- Another variation to making it more complex is to blindfold the follower and ask him to hear the sounds and identify the material and retain it in memory. Remove the blindfold and let him try to tap the correct material in the same order as the leader
Mix It Up:Change the things around the house from the usual. For example, hang a photo upside down, put the cushion cover inside out, wear socks from 2 different pairs. Use your imagination to make the change and ask your child to identify the difference
- Place a few things on a tray. Let the child observe things. Now hide the tray. See how many things your child can recall. To make it a little more complex, remove a few items and replace them with some other items. See if your child can identify which items got replaced with the new items
I-Spy:Play I-spy with the clues that have minute details of the things in the house to make it really hard to find
Play with Yarn:Give a skein of yarn and a rubber ball or a small rectangular box. Let the child wrap the ball/box with the yarn so no part of the ball or the box is seen. A child will learn to pay attention to details
- Have 3 long strings of yarn of the same color. Put a knot at one of the ends of each string and mark them as A, B, and C.
- Tie any toy or a treat to the other end of one of the strings and leave the other 2 string ends free. Now entangle the strings through furniture such as dining table or chairs and hide the ends. Let the child trace the path of the strings to find which string has the ball/treat tied to it
- Another variation is to just entangle the strings and let the child untangle the strings. This activity helps the child to stay on task
- Finding the differences between 2 pictures, completing a maze, solving a picture puzzle, also help in improving the observation skills
Get artsy:Most of us don't give much importance to ART. Involving the child in different visual art forms helps the child focus better
- Craft, painting, drawing, sculpting help them focus as well as improve their creativity
- For example, let the child observe any bark of a tree in a closer view and draw a picture of the bark with every minute detail. For smaller children, describe any object with words for the child to draw the details
- Write a list of colors but use a different color pen for writing the color names. For example, write RED with BLUE ink, PURPLE with GREEN ink and so on. Let the child say the color of the ink for each word instead of reading the names of the color. Eyes see color but the brain instructs to read the word. Focusing on the ink instead of spelling is one of the good cognitive exercises to train the brain.
Number fun:Write a series of same numbers in multiple rows. In between the numbers write one or 2 different numbers. For example, write a series of 8 like 8888888888888 and include a similar looking number 3 in between. 8888888888888888883888888888888888. Let the child find out all the occurrences of 3. Similarly, you can make the child look for the number of occurrences of a particular alphabet in a sentence
Music:Children who enjoy music can try to focus on one particular instrument in a piece of music...
- This activity helps in learning to ignore the distraction from other instruments
- Singing harmony works the same way. Let one person start singing a song. The second person should start singing the same song when the first person is at the beginning of the second or the third line of the song. It is confusing in the beginning, but the child will learn to remove the other distractions and focus on his lines
- Enrolling your child in a school music band will help as they will be involved in playing ensembles where one has to focus on his instrumental rhythm and notes
- Other activities that help children to improve their concentration skills are yoga, meditation, music, and sports. These activities help in mind and body integration so a child who has lots of energy will learn self-control. Play a game of "Statue". By forcing oneself not to move helps in controlling the body and mind
Ways to Help Your Child Focus On Studies
Teaching Methodology:Identify the dominant learning style of a child so the teaching methods can be modified to create interest for the child. It's not the child who fails to understand the concepts. It's the methodology of teaching that fails to suit the child's need
Identify the Right Study Time:Some children can work better in the morning and some in the evening
- Ensure they are well fed and have a good sleep in the night. Figure out what time they are relaxed and refreshed
- Choose the appropriate time for homework. You may choose to break the homework into two slots--one in the morning and the other in the evening
- Once the suitable time is identified, follow a regular homework routine
A Study Corner:Identify a study spot that is suitable for the child. Some children like to do the homework in the dining table so they stay closer to an adult while working
- Control External Voices - If the child has a hard time to keep focused because of the external noise, use an ear muff or an earphone so they don't get distracted. Try some children can work better when soft melodious music is played at the background
- Avoid using excessive workbook exercises as they can become monotonous after a certain point. Replace the workbooks with different tools. For example, in math, manipulative tools such as Lego blocks, geometrical shaped wooden blocks, playing cards, coins can be used to teach Number sense, area, and perimeter, Arithmetic operations, or money respectively. Or use the self-made interactive notebook for learning science or social science
Be Involved:Stay close and get involved in a child's activities to keep them on task
- Some children may need reminders to focus on. So use a signal or a bell to remind them in order to make it less frustrating for you
- As they grow older and the situation improves, you can gradually move away from supervising to make them responsible for their learning
Small Work Chunks:
- Break the larger assignment into smaller parts and work on one part at a time
- Focusing on a smaller part at a time or moving back and forth between different subjects would also help in avoiding the boredom
- Allow them to take small breaks while moving from one task to another
- It is natural for children to get overwhelmed by seeing the large amount of wor
Expending Excess Energy:Some children are fidgety by nature that they find it too hard to sit and do a task for more than 5 minutes. Some part of the body is always moving. Even the softest noise can distract them. While doing a task, suddenly they come up with an irrelevant story, ask questions, ask for a break, the focus turns to something else and start doing something else. It can be very frustrating for the parents to constantly remind them to focus. But these children have a lot of energy and they want to expend it. If you find that it's too hard to break the habit, try using it in their study time. For example, if the child keeps asking questions, tell your child to pause for a while and think about all possible questions she can think of in that topic that she is going to learn. Or if a child likes to keep moving from place to place, make him run from one end to the other. Then ask him a question. Make it a game. He can move from the spot only after answering. After answering, make him run to another spot. He will be able to learn better as he gets to spend that extra energy
Avoid Excessive Screen time:Watching videos or playing video games makes the brain go into autopilot mode at a certain point. The brain in autopilot mode becomes bored and the brain cells' abilities start to decline. Keep the brain active and curious by stretching the thinking skills. Avoid too much of screen time even if they are educational especially for children in primary school
- Avoid feeding too much information at a time, as it freezes the brain and decreases the capacity to make decisions, think clearly and creatively
Did you find this blog useful? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!
1. understood.org › Focus and Concentration in Children - Understood.Org
2. nhsggc.org.uk › kids › Attention and Concentration - NHS GGC
| Aug 25, 2015
Meenu Vemuri, In one of the parentalk discussions you have mentioned your daughter is good at art and singing. yes what can be better than art and music to make her stay focused! keep encouraging her. Create an art corner in your house and let her indulge in it to relax and refresh her mind whenever she wants.
| Aug 25, 2015
The article is very informative but my 5. 5 yr daughter finds it boring to do same page everyday and is little lazy and slow in general and usually avoids things that are routine. I can't help with homework as it's binding but try to give her a change wherever possible. She is also very aggressive and completely ignored what is being said to her. I feel frustrated with this attitude and don't know how to deal with it. I have tried many things, talked to her, scolded sometimes but no use. Please help.
| Aug 25, 2015
Good information. Most of these I tried on my elder one beforehand. She has moulded well. Now she is in 5 th std. I am not able to implement these things on my youngerone. Both mindsets are different. I got more good suggestions from this blog. I will try to implement. Thank you.
| Aug 26, 2015
Thanks for such a informative article. This really puts things in perspective. You have given a complete picture and list of various strategies that one can use at home. How can we incorporate these things in the school scenario where you are not present ? I have been using some and now I can incorporate some more. It is a big challenge these days to help your child learn as you correctly said they just learn differently . Thanks a ton!
| Aug 26, 2015
Meenakshi Gour, thanks for your comments. In schools, children cant do things on their own to stay focused. There has to be a facilitator who can implement certain things to help the child remain focused. Are you a teacher? If yes, then you could try some of the followings. 1. if there is a fidgety child, and if the child cant sit at one place, allow the child to walk around for a couple of rounds at the back of the classroom and then continue with the work. 2. In my son's classroom, the teacher has a corner called "Amazon corner" with a table and chair at the back of the classroom where she keeps some crossword puzzles, number puzzles, logical and analytical puzzles, coloring sheets and books. If the child finishes the work quickly, if s/he finds it too hard to sit quietly for a long time, she allows the child to go to the corner and do puzzle or to read till everyone finishes. 3. There is no restriction on how the child sits in the chair. Allow the child to sit however he wants - with the legs folded, to sit on the floor. Sitting in one posture the whole day is the hardest thing for most children. 4. she also keeps elastic bands to wear on the wrist and snap or some stress balls to squeeze for fidgety children during instruction time. all the children are free to use them. so the children don't look down upon the children that use them. 5. know the child on the first day of school itself through a questionnaire for parents on child's temperament. Do not make a very active / talkative child sit next to a very quiet child. it can be frustrating for both if they don't have their space. 6. keep the teaching sessions interactive. when they think and discuss, the mind is always active. 7. make them work in groups often so they can interact and learn which can in turn helps them to focus more. 8. Most important is to let the children talk to each other in classroom. stopping them from talking is the foremost reason for children to lose focus. I understand it can turn noisy if there are too many children. But you can teach them the different types of voice - sheep voice, hand voice and playground voice. Sheep voice is to whisper i. e while walking in a hallway or while talking to each other when the children are working on something. Hand voice is to use when you have a class discussion during teaching instruction time. playground voice is for outdoor where they can scream at the top of their voice if they want. it would be great if the voice system can be implemented schoolwide. 9. If possible leave some cushions in the corners of the classrooms so children can choose to sit anywhere during reading or working on their research project or math. Comfortable spot and posture can also help.
| Sep 01, 2015
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| Sep 04, 2015
Thank u Carol for such nice and informative blog. The methods u hv suggested are simple and easy to implement. Pls tell me if there is anything else I can Do to get my 13 year old son study. He was very gud in studies earlier but now his interest has diminished a lot. No amount of counseling from our side is working for him. I'm really worried for him
| Sep 04, 2015
@ishta, Is it possible for you to get more involved in his studies not as a supervisor or a teacher/coach, but more like a learning partner so you can discuss what is learnt, ask him to explain, you can give more inputs. One of the effective ways to learn is to teach another person. So when he explains, there shouldn't be any inhibition that you would point out mistakes. instead if you join as a learning partner he would feel more free to discuss what he learnt. I know it may not be possible for everyone all the time. But try doing it at least once in a while. Children may not be able to implement the learning strategies on their own. you can help him implement them. for example you can help him to come up with mnemonics. To remember what oxidation and reduction are,you can use the mnemonic - "GER" says LEO (Gain of Electron is Reduction and Loss of Electron is Oxidation), to remember how many feet in a mile (1 mile = 5280), remember the term "5 tomatoes" i. e 5 (to) m (ate) 0s = 5 2 m 8 0s. use funny phrases to make him remember the terms. Main a separate page for the list of mnemonics and the formula for quick review. Make him go through the list more often. The reason for the sudden drop in his interest in studies may be due to some difficulty in understanding new concepts. If possible do a baseline test to find where he stands and to also check whether his fundamentals are strong. You could take some professional help either private coach or his teacher or you could do it yourself. when you counselled him, you must have told him how important it is to study well, to have good study habits etc. In addition to those, ask him how you can help him in his studies. to what extent he expects you to get involved. that can help to find ways to work together.
| Sep 11, 2015
This is one of the most useful blogs i read in recent time. I so needed this for my 6. 8 year old as she moved in a bigger school after preschool! She is finding a little tough to manage too many subjects which finally led her to boredom and distractions. Thanks Carol for this wonderful writeup.
| Sep 11, 2015
I use another method for my son to remember the points. First will make sure that he understands the topic. To memorize the points use the memory technique. I ask him to visualise our house. He will have to imagine one point/topic in each room. For example- Uses of computers. 1. Useful in the schools- He will imagine our living room where he can see his school building, teacher using computer etc. 2. Useful in the hospitals -He will imagine he is entering the kitchen and can see a doctor checking the BP of a patient on his bed. 3. Useful in Offices- He will imagine going to the bedroom his dad is sitting in his office cabin in front of computers and so on. It has proved very helpful for us. He will be able to remember the points and that too in the order. This way you can imagine the school with different classes starting from LKG or his uncle/aunt's houses and remember different points. You can even imagine some funny /strange things which the child will never forget for sure. For example, one of the points to remember is 'forest'. He will imagine a monkey is dancing with other animals where all animals are wearing colourful skirts. This way, the study becomes fun , interesting and he will remember all the points too. Please remember these imaginations are only to remember. But he has to understand the topic first in real sense..
| Oct 16, 2015
Points mentioned are very helpful but is concentration related to nutrition values? and mentioned points execution takes much time;and in fast moving world &hectic school syllabus n time working parents and their children have no time to experiment things. so pls provide some basic easy steps so that parents n children can concentrate on n move on in life with this fast changing world. thanks.