Helping Your Child to Concentrate
Developing concentration skills is a key part in a child's development - and succeeding in any field, be it artistic, sporting or academic requires the ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Concentration is one of what we call the Four Cs (along with confidence, communication and coordination) which all of the games, songs and dances are created to help improve at Perform, so it's definitely something I think about at lot.
All children have the ability to concentrate - think about the things they enjoy doing - e.g. they'll often have no problem at all with concentration when they're playing a computer game, drawing, playing a particular sport etc. Normally it's just a case of being interested in something. However, the ability to concentrate on any task can be a tougher skill to learn.
Even as adults we find it difficult to concentrate from time to time - so it really should be no surprise that children struggle too!
There are several factors which can affect a child's concentration:
- Interest - arguably the most important factor. If a child is interested in what they are doing it's far easier for them to concentrate.
- Age - generally speaking younger children cannot concentrate for as long a period as older children. Even as adults we can typically only concentrate for around 20 minutes before we start to need a little break.
- Their surroundings - there are some things which can make concentration more difficult; e.g. if there's lots of other things going on around you, it can be much harder to concentrate.
Interest is going to be the most difficult one to tackle as it can be tricky to get a child interested in some subjects. Here I'd recommend talking to the child about concentration. Perhaps start by talking to them about activities which they have no problem concentrating on. Try to encourage them to recognise what it feels like to concentrate. Do they work more effectively when they concentrate? Does time pass more quickly when they concentrate?
Highlight that if you can concentrate on a task, you'll get it done much quicker and can then move on to something else; so a little bit of time spent concentrating on something (even if they don't find it all that interesting) can go a long way! Make sure that you're taking an interest in what they are doing to help motivate them, and offer praise when they've done well.
The age of a child has a large impact on the length of time that they can concentrate. Five year olds can usually concentrate for around 5 minutes at a time; seven year olds for around 15 minutes; and children aged eleven and over can usually manage 20 minutes. With this in mind, setting up short bursts of concentrated activity may work better for your child.
Make sure you're giving your child the best possible environment to concentrate in - try to remove unnecessary distractions etc. If your house is anything like mine, silence is probably not achievable; but try to create an environment conducive to work!
It's also worth noting that other factors can also play a part - e.g. if your child is unwell, or perhaps if they are worried about a situation at school or at home this may affect their ability to concentrate. As such, it may be worth considering if any of these factors might be coming into play.
Image credit Fotologic