For the past one hour, you have been trying to get your child to finish their homework without success. Your child suddenly gets the urge to kick the ball in the middle of colouring the squares, wants to watch a television programme and suddenly remembers a piece of chocolate left in the refrigerator!
Attention span is one of the last of the attributes that develops in your child from an emotional standpoint. At the age of five, the capacity to remember, focus and concentrate is not well developed.
Here are some tips to help your child focus better. This could apply to housework, homework or learning new skills:
- Break down the task into small bits: Your child might get overwhelmed by a big task. Plus they do not have the discipline and concentration required for it. This makes them reluctant to even begin the task. Small tasks make it easy for them to focus. As they finish the small parts of the big task, they feel a sense of achievement and feel good about the progress they are making.
- Reduce distractions: Limit distractions in the area where your child is working- like television, loud noises or anything else that might distract them. If you are helping them with the task then make sure you do not get up and leave in the middle of the task, do not take calls on the phone unless necessary.
- Set Routines: Keep a specific time and a specific place for the activity- Homework is always done at the writing table, music is practiced in the hall etc. This makes them less resistant as they know no other activity is allowed at that hour and this activity ends at a specific time.
- Goal completion time: Set a specific time for completion of the task. This will help them focus better. However, do make sure the time given does not pressurize them or make them anxious to complete the task.
- Embed instructions: Maintain eye contact with your child while you give them instructions. This makes them focus on your words. Ask them to repeat the instructions once you have finished speaking. This makes sure the instructions are embedded in them.
- Time in-between: If they are required to do a series of tasks, then allow for a break in between tasks. For example, they have to finish homework and then practice a song. Give them a ten-minute break between the two. The transition will be easier and your child will refocus on the new task faster.
- Physical exercise: This helps them vent their energy, gets rid of boredom and you will find them concentrating more on the task at hand.
- Play games: There are plenty of games available that can assist you with the task. You can start with basic memory games where they find matching pairs and go on to tougher ones. This can become a fun activity for both of you.
The ability to concentrate for long periods takes time and practice. But this is undoubtedly one of those things your child will benefit from for life. So go ahead and set the ball rolling when they are young to make their future better!