We live in a world full of distractions, and never-ending noise thanks to technology. Screens and cell phones, social media and YouTube, text messaging and Snapchat, our kids have only even known life with tech devices.
It’s no wonder children today are more distracted than ever before. The attention span of kids is also quite low, and many young children have difficulty sitting still and staying focused. But there are ways to help your child focus and concentrate.
1. Get rid of distractions
Anyone would be distracted by a TV show blaring in the background, or loud music on the radio. Reducing distractions can help your child with focus and concentration. Turn off the television, mute notifications from your tech device, and keep other distracting gadgets away.
If you or anyone else in the house is watching television, make sure it is far from where your child is so that she’s not distracted by the noise. A quiet space is what your child needs to focus on a task.
2. Create uninterrupted time
Create time and space for your child to have uninterrupted time to focus on a task, whether it’s painting on a canvas, reading, or doing homework.
Teach your kids to put their full attention to the task at hand, without any distractions. We have become professionals at multi-tasking, and of course our kids are learning the same too. But if children are multi-tasking while doing their homework, it actually slows them down and it prevents full learning.
Multitasking can have a number of negative effects on learning. A recent study that found the mere presence of a smartphone reduces a person’s ability to focus. Teach your kids to focus on the one single task without any tech devices around.
If your kids are still babies and toddlers, don’t introduce technology just yet. When you do, to make sure they’re not entertained for hours on end by screens.
3. Encourage physical activities
Encourage your child to take part in physical activity like walking, cycling or running every day. Exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. But exercise also changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills?
In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
Sign up your child for a sport such as hockey or soccer. Team sports are a great way for kids to stay active, but they also teach kids teamwork, leadership skills, social interaction skills, and a sense of belonging.
4. Set expectations
Just as parents set expectations for good manners, proper behavior, and listening skills, set expectations for paying attention to tasks too. Establish a routine for your child’s activities, such as chores, reading, homework, and even play-time and tech time. Having a schedule will make it easy for you to monitor your child’s study time and device time.
It’s also important to lay the foundation for discipline in your child’s school work, no-tech time, and chores. For example, your child must complete chores or homework before having free time to play video games or with friends. Make this a rule to teach your child to complete the task at hand first before being distracted by the next thing.
5. Take breaks
Another idea is to ensure that your child takes breaks according to what is reasonable for his or her age. For example, a four year old may not be able to focus on any one activity for more than a half hour. So, take a break – even for five minutes – before going back to that activitiy.
During homework, you could allow your child to have a quick break after every 30 minutes, for example, to get a glass of water, eat a snack, or do some jumping jacks. Don’t allow a distracting activity like playing or watching television during break time. Be clear that it’s for relaxing for a few minutes.
Allow plenty of breaks to let them expend energy before getting back to work. Decide together how much time should pass and how much work should be accomplished between breaks.
There are many ways to encourage children to pay attention and concentrate. Coming up with different and creative ways to do so can help teach your child to focus.