A child’s cognitive, language and motor skills contribute to his ability to concentrate. When a task is frustrating or challenging for a child, he might choose not to participate at all or focus on the activity for only a short period of time, which to parents looks like a lack of concentration. Your child might attend to a particular activity for a great deal of time, such as building blocks or playing sports, but he may dislike art projects. By providing opportunities for a child to concentrate on the things he likes, he will begin to generalize those focus skills on other areas of study.
Pay attention to your child when he is working on a project or playing. During which activities does he seem to concentrate, and how long does he spend on these activities? This step will help you determine your child’s favorite activities.
Teach your child about concentration, including the word itself and what it means. Point out when other people in your household or out in your community seem to concentrate.
Encourage your child to participate in a wide variety of activities he enjoys. Once you know which activities your child excels at, you can provide more opportunities for them.
Praise your child for paying attention or focusing on an activity. Say things like, “I can see you’re concentrating really hard on that puzzle. I love how well you’re paying attention. How does it feel to concentrate like that?” This step lets your child become more aware of concentration.
Play games to encourage concentration and awareness. Place a favorite toy between the two of you and determine who can concentrate the longest -- the first person to giggle, blink, look away or talk is the one who loses focus. Play a board game or memory game and see how long your child can focus on it; these games work on concentration because the aspect of winning or finishing it encourages you to focus for a long period of time.
Point out your child’s success in concentration when he struggles with schoolwork or a particular task. Say, “Remember how well you focused when you worked on that puzzle and how it felt? Let’s try that again.” Once your child really understands the concept of concentration, he will be able to apply it to other activities with a bit of encouragement. When he completes a task that is not his favorite, praise him for a job well done.
- Mood also plays a role in concentration. If your child is tired or even overly excited, he will find it easy to be distracted. Avoid asking your child to concentrate on an activity, particularly a new or challenging one, during these emotional times.
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