Concentrating on a task for an extended period of time is not as easy as it seems. It is normal therefore that kids, occasionally, will suffer from a lack of concentration, in particular when they are over-tired, over-stimulated or over-loaded with information or things to do. However, being able to focus on a task is a fundamental part of developing learning skills and passing any kind of exam, be it 11+ or A Levels.
Education experts believe that concentration, like any other skill, could be enhanced by following a few simple rules, or in some circumstances, with the supervision of an engaging and motivating adult.
Here are some tips to help you improve your child’s concentration:
1. Create the Right Conditions for Learning
First of all, you need to remove any possible source of distraction at home. This is necessary in order to provide your child with the best environment possible while they are studying or doing their homework. It could be useful to draw up a list of possible distractions, including TV, noise, distraction from other people, fatigue and hunger. Make sure that your child is aware of these impediments, so that they can take charge of their own learning environment. It might be worth sitting down with your child at times during their study sessions, reinforcing their concentrating with encouragement whilst also checking on their focus. This should be done in a positive way to keep your child motivated.
2. Support a Healthy Diet and a Regular Lifestyle
Good nutrition and sufficient sleep are decisive factors in influencing your child’s concentration, however these are often overlooked when thinking of ways in which to improve concentration levels. Studies have shown that a diet rich in whole grains, fruit and vegetables can help your child’s brain function at their highest level, and consequently boost their ability to focus on different tasks. Reducing sugar intake and increasing protein levels with lean meat, almonds and eggs can also help, especially in shaking off lethargy.
Additionally, our brains really do need fat to function, which is why the poly-unsaturated fats such as omega-6 and omega-3 are known as ‘brain foods’. Foods containing these fats, including salmon, avocado, leafy-green vegetables and pistachio nuts have had a proven positive effect on long-term cognitive brain function (if you are interested in finding out more about so called ‘brain foods’ take a look at: http://brightyoungthings.co.uk/blog/2014/09/15/brain-foods/). )
Ensure that your child has had a healthy meal before studying and try and avoid snacks high in sugar. It is commonly thought that sugar boosts energy and concentration levels, however whilst this might be the case in the short term, sugar levels will eventually drop resulting in a slump and loss of energy.
3. Schedule Regular Activities
According to several studies, routines and timetables for each day are both comforting and supportive. Getting your child into regular study patterns will help them to allocate their concentration and keep them on track. By adhering to a routine your child’s workload should also feel more manageable.
Breaking down big projects into smaller assignments is another good strategy to help with concentration. Having breaks in between each assignment and switching between tasks and subjects in a methodical way will help to keep things fresh, make children feel like they are making progress and avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed.
4. Praise and Give Rewards
We can all be guilty of forgetting to praise our children when they are doing well, missing the opportunity to increase their self-confidence. We must also try to avoid criticising them unnecessarily or punishing without fully explained reasons. Conversely, we must remember to reward children when they demonstrate signs of commitment and progress.
5. Figure Out What Activities Your Child Focuses on Best and What their Learning Style is
Children tend to develop a natural interest in specific issues or topics. When your child shows an interest in doing certain activities, it will slowly develop into motivation. Motivation, or a state of taking initiative, will soon lead to better concentration and focus. Look for activities that your child can get lost in, and show interest in what they are doing; it may help them develop their own talents and increase their levels of concentration.
With this in mind, it is also important to identify a student’s learning style. Children learn in different ways and figuring out whether your child is a visual, kinaesthetic or auditory learner (for more information about the ways in which we learn: http://brightyoungthings.co.uk/blog/2014/08/13/style-guru/) and working out a study programme accordingly will help concentration levels and make for more efficient learning.
Guest blog post written by Jamie Thompson, Bright Young Things
For more information on Bright Young Things: http://local.mumsnet.com/hertfordshire/eleven-plus/232502-bright-young-things-st-albans