How do you help a child to focus in class? Getting your child to focus whether in class or at home, can be challenging and even frustrating to many parents.
“Can you please concentrate and finish your homework?”
If you are a parent, you may have used this phrase many times on your child, but what’s the cause of this?
Attention span is the amount of time taken by someone concentrating on a task before getting distracted by something else. This usually happens when your attention is taken over by another activity.
Today, kids seem to have reduced concentration as they are easily distracted by other activities. So if your child is finding it hard to complete simple tasks without getting distracted, then your child has a low concentration span.
There’s no need to get worried, but helping your child to focus and increase his/her attention span is something you need to do as a responsible parent.
Being rated as the best preschool in Malaysia, at Q-dees we take increasing a child’s attention span seriously by doing plenty of research and development. In this post, we are going to walk you through ways to help increase your child’s attention span.
Questions we receive about the short attention span in children.
Every day, parents ask our teachers for tips to help improve their child’s attention span. Out of all of them, here are the top questions we’d like to explain.
1. What causes a lack of concentration in a child?
Several factors can cause a lack of concentration. June Petersen, a former teacher at Penryn College, says the cause depend on a few factors such as the age, or in some cases, the health of your child.
Generally, here are some factors that cause lack of concentration, along with some quick tips to fix it:
- Lack of sleep – If your child doesn’t have enough sleep, he or she will be fatigued the whole day, which is why it is advisable to put your child to bed at reasonable hours.
- Motivation and interest – children tend to concentrate more on things they love. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to know what your child loves and where their strengths lie at.
- Health – This may be something you have not considered before, but your child’s attention span could be low due to the weak immune system, poor eating habits, and dehydration. To fix this, make sure you give your child foods rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Environment – First, don’t expect your child to finish his or her homework if he or she is placed in the same room where everyone else is watching TV. Strategically shift to a more conducive environment where your child would be less distracted by noise and entertainment distractions.
2. What is the average attention span of a child?
The average attention span of children is between 3 and 5 minutes, depending on their age.
That means, a 2 year-old can concentrate on a particular task for up to six minutes, while a child ready for preschool or kindergarten at age 4, can focus up to fifteen minutes performing a task.
- 2 years old -: four to ten minutes
- 4 years old -: eight to 20 minutes
- 6 years old -: 12 to 30 minutes
- 8 years old -: 16 to 40 minutes
- 10 years old -: 20 to 50 minutes
But again, these are just general guidelines. Depending on your child, his or her attention span may be slightly different. It is important to note that the attention spans vary depending on the development of your child.
Some exceed the upper limit by five minutes a year, which means that a 4-year old can maintain focus for up to 17 minutes without getting distracted.
How long your child can focus largely depends on factors such as the number of distractions nearby, how engaging the activity is to your child, and how tired the child appears to be. However, if your child’s attention is dangerously below the average, seek medical help.
3. How do I know if my child has ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a complicated neurodevelopmental condition that can negatively affect the success of your child at school.
Because the signs of these symptoms vary, it may be best to leave it to an expert to diagnose your child. Below are some signs of ADHD:
- Self-focused behavior.
- Your child interrupting others quite often.
- Child finding trouble waiting for his or her turn.
- Emotional turmoil.
- Child fidgeting all the time.
- Your child finds it hard playing quietly.
- The child never completes tasks.
- Daydreaming, and more.
What really causes child concentration problems at kindergarten or at home?
From our experience in teaching and taking care of children at our preschools around Malaysia, here’s what we have observed – We see parents get frustrated when trying to sit a child for at least ten minutes.
As a parent, you will try to engage your child using toys, and other playing objects, only for your loved one to lose concentration after a few minutes.
So imagine attempting to walk your child through his or her homework. It won’t last long before another activity takes your child’s attention, but what are the common distractions that affect the attention span of your child?
1. Trying to complete difficult tasks
This will depend on the age of your child and his or her capabilities to complete those tasks.
If you assign a difficult task to your child, the chances are that your loved one will lose concentration after a few minutes, sometimes, even before attempting the task itself.
The right way to make it simpler is by breaking the complex task into smaller chunks, and more straightforward activities. Doing this will help your child learn the small processes that would take to complete a complicated task.
Also, refrain yourself from losing patience and encourage your child even if he or she fails or loses focus halfway.
2. The lack of parental attention
It is usual for children to crave attention, especially from their parents. And being a responsible and supportive parent, you should respond positively to this.
That said, if you show too much attention – your child may develop a habit where he loses his concentration on certain tasks, just to attract your attention.
A way to fix this is to set up a schedule or habit, when you spend quality time with your children. At the same time, have your child to understand that there needs to be time allocated for them to pay attention to things such as their homework.
3. Taking a bad diet
There are specific foods that could cause your child to fall asleep quite often – and thus they have lower concentration span. The human body requires vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to reach its best physical and mental potential.
What we suggest is to include food and drinks with a balance of complex carbohydrates for your child, such as cereals, protein-rich food/drinks like milk, yogurt, eggs, fish and juice.
Reduce and if possible avoid sugary consumption and exclude foods with high-fat content, such as fried foods. Remember that you are what you consume, so take a proper look into your child’s diet. A proper nutrition not only ensures a healthy body but a healthy mind as well.
4. Lack of sleep
Sleeping is essential for your child, and it should be every little one’s routine. A good rest during the night could be of significant benefit to the grownups, and at the same time has bigger advantages for children.
Inadequate sleep affects your child’s attention span, and that’s why he or she needs to sleep at least eight hours a day and at most 12 hours a day – depending on the age of your child.
Set up a schedule for your child to ensure he or she gets enough to sleep and at the right time.
Activities to increase the attention span of children
One of the factors for children to have success at preschool is to have a good attention span. This is also why children with ADHD tend to miss out on many learning opportunities, and as such, fail to keep up with their peers.
Fixing concentration problems later, when your child is around 8 to 9 years old can be hard. Therefore, it’s advisable to start at a tender age, creating an impact on your child’s focus.
There are tons of activities you can introduce as a parent to help boost their attention span. One of the ways we encourage this at Q–dees, is to build natural curiosity in children by adopting a hands-on approach through our logic & scientific discovery kindergarten programme.
Here are some of the strategies to help increase the attention span of your children at class or at home.
1. Turn learning into games
Because children learn more by playing, consider making their activities fun. One of the ways you can do this is by keeping away electronic gadgets and instead, allow them to associate learning and completing tasks as games.
For preschoolers, a good example is to start with a basic game that helps your child learn about numbers, objects, colors, shapes and more. Learning games can be very effective, because you turn learning time into ‘playing’ time, in which helping your child to focus in class.
Besides, there have been reports that proved electronic devices to reduce attention span as well as memory capacity. So in short, stash electronic devices away and especially during children’s activities.
2. Set up daily routines
Having daily routines will help increase your child’s concentration. In fact, even working adults become more productive when following a routine.
Here’s why it works. When children know what awaits them ahead, they become psychologically prepared on what they should be doing. The resistance to avoid or to procrastinate becomes lesser.
For example, if you have set up a playtime timetable for your children, they will be motivated to finish their work and find themselves a playtime. This will reduce the scolding you potentially have with your children when trying to pull them off the television because you would have scheduled some time for TV.
The best scenario is to set up time between play and work. Do this religiously and not only your child will have a better attention span, but they will grow up to be more disciplined as well.
This is why we enforce timetables at our Q-dees preschool – teaching children discipline through daily routines, where we separate time between learning and playing.
3. Taking regular exercise
Why do most kindergartens include sessions for play or dancing? That’s because through those activities, we incorporate exercise for children.
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your child’s concentration. It helps increase the memory, attention, mental sharpness of your child while lowering anxiety.
Children are always bursting with energy, that’s why it’s important to make sure your children are active.
At Q-dees, we designed a program for children called Character Building and Gymflex, which is designed for physical and social development.
4. Reading to Your Child
You may not know this, but the truth is your child will concentrate more if you take your time to read for him or her.
We understand busy parents might feel inclined to leave the duties of teaching a child to the kindergarten, but the involvement of parents plays a much bigger role.
Besides just learning at their preschool, look at ways to engage with your child through reading to them. Keep in mind to continually engage your child with verbal cues and eye-contact, so that he or she doesn’t drift away while you’re reading.
How to help children with ADHD focus in class.
A child with ADHD can be inclined to put his or her attention to specific activities, such as playing video games. Still, the same child may have very little concentration when it comes to school-related activities.
Here’s the thing, researchers have found that ADHD doesn’t actually affect a child’s attention span. Rather, it affects the things the child pays attention to.
And while it is true that medication can help, let’s look at some ways to help increase the attention span of children diagnosed with ADHD without the use of medication.
Helping your child focus In the classroom
The first measure you should take as a parent is to keep your child away from possible distractions, such as traffic areas, windows, among others. Oftentimes it also helps to surround your child with well-behaved peers, as children learn a lot from their social surroundings.
When teaching children with ADHD, our teachers at Q-dees pay attention to encourage the curiosity in them by including lessons that are exciting, engaging and fun. Some of the teaching techniques we use, leverages the power of imagination, as we want to leverage on the child’s visual sense to learn and stay focused.
Turning back to you as a parent, it also helps to teach your child via topics that relate to events. Why is this important? That’s because doing this helps the child relate different events to one another, stimulating their thinking processes.
Another thing that our teachers often do is to alternate the teaching methods so that students don’t get bored and lose focus. Instead of talking and lecturing too much, we incorporate hands-on activity to keep children engaged.
For example, we set up activities where we encourage children to chant mathematics concepts, tap out to numbers and pin letters on the board to increase their participation activity and concentration spans.
Helping your child focus at home
We’ve discussed ways to help increase your child’s attention span at kindergarten, but how can you further nurture a child at home?
Firstly, when doing homework, have your child do some physical activities such as underlining the words he or she is learning or to draw cartoons out of what he or she has learned. This gives them a way to output their energy.
Children with ADHD could benefit a ton from positive affirmations, such as “I can focus on this.” Teach your child to tell themselves such words, so they can self-encourage themselves to positively move forward.
Attention-boosting games can also help to increase your child’s attention span.
Finally, spending time outdoors has been proven to be best to help increase the attention span of children, especially those who have ADHD. Take some time outdoors in relaxed, natural environments while encouraging your child to spot the beautiful nature, wild animals, and birds.
The attention span in children is something that can be nurtured and trained.
What’s important is to be aware and to start training your child early. Never drag this because a child’s development is most crucial during their early age.
What are some ways you help your child increase their attention span? Comment below as we’d love to hear from you.