Steps to Improve Your Child’s Concentration & Focus
The first step in improving concentration and focus in your child, is recognizing what the lack of it looks like. It can manifest as a general lack of interest, daydreaming, disorganization, and more. These are often evident during homework.
To improve concentration on tasks, sometimes we need to take a step back and think about what’s happening before they sit down.
Don’t wait until the last minute
Whether it’s starting a project or just daily homework, waiting until the last minute can cause stress and make a child less focused and less productive. A good rule to instill is to do the things you need to do before the things you want to do. So, take a break after school if need be, but don’t wait until the last minute to tackle homework. The later into the day it gets, the more tired and less productive a person gets.
In fact, mornings can sometimes be a person’s most productive time of day. Maybe your child can accomplish in 30 minutes in the morning what might take them an hour in the evening. The idea of doing homework every morning might sound daunting, but it’s all about building a routine.
Whether it’s after breakfast, school, or supper, jumping right into homework after a predictable activity each day will help your child focus on the task at hand. Learning not to put things off at home will also help them get better at not procrastinating at school, too.
Check for rain clouds
Nothing gets in the way of concentration more than emotions like worry and anger. If your child brings into the homework space emotions from previous activities, then their mind isn’t on the task at hand. Maybe they just didn’t get enough sleep or had a disagreement with a sibling or friend at school. Taking a few moments to have a “check-in” and see where your child’s head is can help to clear out the brain fog.
If you’re pressed for time (as homework time often can be), you can suggest having a bedtime chat to work through more complex challenges. Sometimes a simple hug can put a child into a more positive state of mind and help them feel more ready for the mentally demanding tasks ahead.
Look around for distractions
What constitutes a distraction is unique for each child, but there are some common ones to look out for.
- Digital devices. This is a big one even when they’re off because just the sight of a phone, tablet, or TV can get them thinking about what they’d rather be doing.
- Fidget material. This is a trickier one because even something like clickable pens and fun erasers that aren’t being used at that moment can become distractions.
- Sound. This one can go either way. Noise-canceling headphones can be useful for children who are easily distracted by sound, while other children may find music actually helps them focus more.
Tackle bite-sized chunks of work
Now your child is sitting down and ready to work. A child might feel overwhelmed by the big block of homework time ahead, but if you help them to think only about this one piece they need to focus on, they may have an easier time working through it.
That can mean breaking a chapter down into pages, or even paragraphs. This can help them feel accomplished for having completed each task. Praising a child’s efforts after each incremental accomplishment can help them feel motivated for the next one. We do this in Kumon, too!