All children can have trouble concentrating from time to time, but a regular inability to focus can interfere with the learning process. While much of the research regarding improved concentration skills tend to focus on children with attention disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the same exercises can help children of all ability levels boost their focusing skills.
Crayons and Pencils
Many children enjoy drawing pictures, and the process of creating something on paper can boost concentration skills. Dr. Victoria Groves Scott, assistant provost for academic innovation and effectiveness and professor of special education at Southern Illinois University, suggests a game called "Who's the Artist?" The game requires two players. The players choose an unfamiliar animal such as an aye-aye or sloth. One player describes what she thinks the animal looks like while the other player draws it. Then the players switch roles. This helps children concentrate because it requires them to rely on prior knowledge and listen carefully, Scott notes. Children who can read and write can benefit greatly from doing word puzzles, such as crossword puzzles and word searches, according to Dr. Robert Myers, a child psychologist writing for the website Empowering Parents.
Activities that require children to manipulate objects with their hands can boost concentration because they must be fully involved in the activity. Play board games, such as Memory, with your child. Board games can increase a child's ability to concentrate and focus, as well as lengthen a child's attention span, according to the Scholastic website. Dr. Myers suggests a coin game. Gather a pile of coins of various amounts and place five of them in a sequence. Have your child look at the sequence for a few seconds, then cover it with a piece of cardboard. Give your child more coins and have her replicate the sequence, timing her as she works. As she catches on, gradually increase the difficulty of the sequence.
Online memory games are entertaining and engaging for children, but they can also increase a child's ability to focus. Improve the neural connections in your child's brain, which can boost focusing skills, by having her sit quietly and still, timing how long she's able to do so, Dr. Myers recommends. As the neural connections are strengthened, she'll be able to accomplish this task for longer periods of time. Guided imagery can also help. Ask your child to visualize herself concentrating and paying attention, and, over time, she just might be able to do so more often.
Children who participate in regular physical activity are more likely to be able to focus. A 2012 article published in "The Journal of Pediatrics" reports that moderately intense bouts of exercise can have positive effects on brain function and impulse control. The study focused on children with ADHD, but physical activity can have benefits for all children. If your child enjoys team sports, sign her up to play on a league. Simply playing outside on a regular basis is another way to ensure that your child gets plenty of exercise.
- Johns Hopkins School of Education: Teaching Students With ADHD to F.O.C.U.S.: A Learning Strategy
- Empowering Parents: 5 Simple Concentration Building Techniques for Kids With ADHD
- Scholastic: The Benefits of Board Games
- The Journal of Pediatrics: Exercise Improves Behavioral, Neurocognitive, and Scholastic Performance in Children in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- Andres Arango/Demand Media