We all know that if we want to get better at our favourite sport we need to practice the skills of the game by attending coaching sessions or clinics. Part of improving our skills is doing the exercise that strengthens the muscles we need for playing the game. Learning and developing our sports skills is very similar to improving our concentration muscles. We need to practice the skills of focus to improve our concentration.
Child development experts say that on average a 4 or 5 year old child should be able to stay on task for two to five times the year of their age. Developing our skills of concentration is like exercising any other part of our bodies. Our ability to stay focussed and on task can be improved through regular activities that promote concentration. By starting with small activities that require us to stay focussed we can build and strengthen our ability to concentrate. Learning at school requires children to concentrate with sustained attention for various periods of time so that they can develop the skills and knowledge needed for success.
Here are some of the strategies that may help develop these concentration muscles in our students:
- Set aside some time for your child to practice focussing on a specific task.
- Remember to focus on doing one thing at a time – our brain works best when we focus on one thing at a time – stay focussed in the moment on the one skill / task.
- Make sure all distractions are removed during this time of focus – for example complete homework tasks or assignments with the TV off.
- Make sure during long sustained times of concentration that you plan break times – get up move around and do something different e.g. playbreak, or a healthy snack.
- Enjoy some downtime after school before beginning the homework routine. Exercise helps children pay attention.
- When undertaking a big task, break down into smaller more manageable pieces or use a timer – e.g. setting it at 15 minute intervals for young children.
Play fun concentration games – Memory Games or any board games that help sustain focus through game challenges