Tools to Help Kids Pay Attention

by Nadia Haris

    If your child seems to drift off and fidget in his seat as you try to help him with his homework or teach him about something interesting, you may need reinforcement. Getting the attention of almost any child for more than a few minutes can be a challenge; using tools and props can help. Your child will use many of these tools to develop focusing skills that can help him throughout life.

    Personal Stories

    Stories play a vital role in the mental and emotional development of children. They inspire learning and enhance the ability to communicate and express feelings. Use stories that include your child as a real or imaginary character as well as stories that are relevant to his life, to capture his attention. You can use stories in all areas, not only reading and writing. If you are trying to get across a math concept, make up a story about your child going to the circus and how much he paid for his ticket, ice cream and a souvenir. Or create a story about how he can recycle and the effect he has on helping the environment. Personal stories will help your child focus, boost his confidence levels and make learning more fun for him.

    Mystery Box

    Using objects to tell a story or explain a math or science concept will help keep your child interested. Create a mystery box that contains tactile objects about a certain topic or subject. Give your child hints about what is in the box, but don't show him until he has listened to you explain the lesson or concepts. Then introduce one object at a time from the mystery box. Let him guess how it is related to the topic and explain the concept back to you. A mystery box gives homework and studying more intrigue, and the hands-on approach with tangible objects helps make learning easier to understand.

    Flash Cards

    Flash cards help distill words, math questions and definitions to a single concept so your child can focus on it without the distraction of a page full of words or numbers. Make your own flash cards using color and pictures from magazines. To teach new vocabulary, you can write the word on one side of a card and paste a picture and the definition on the other. Help your child study the cards and then gently quiz him by holding up each card one at a time. Use colored flashcards and colored pens to help stimulate your child's brain and enhance learning.

    Science Experiments

    Your school-age child is awed by nature and science around him, but he might have trouble grasping all the new concepts behind them. Get your child's attention and help him understand everyday science with fun and simple experiments. To show him that plants drink water from their roots and stems, add a few drops of food coloring to a glass of water and place a flower in it. He can watch as the flower changes color in a few hours to a few days, before his very eyes. Encourage your child to create his own science experiments to help him explore the world around him.

    Organization

    Margarita Tartakovsky, a therapist at PsychCentral, notes that kids may have trouble focusing if they lack organizational skills with their schoolwork, hobbies and even playtime. Teach your child how to break tasks and projects into manageable steps and set reasonable goals. This can include making a to-do list or using a daily and weekly calendar. Set a few minutes aside every day for your child to tidy up and organize his workspace and make defined time for play, watching television and homework, to help him give his full attention to what he is doing rather than wondering when he can go outside to play.

    About the Author

    Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.

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