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We are all guilty of having poor concentration from time to time. Advertisers know they have less than three seconds to capture our attention or they lose us, and does anyone watch a movie these days without being on their phone at the same time?

Lack of focus and concentration would also be affecting your work too. How often does your mind wander in a meeting or do you walk into a room and forget why you went in there in the first place? Our children are no different, having the ability to sustain concentration is especially pertinent for school aged children as the ability to stay focused and concentrate will not only enable them to retain knowledge but also allow them to apply skills they learn faster.

So how can you help your children become more focused? There are a number of strategies and exercises that you could implement, and depending on your child some may be more effective than others. However, as a baseline, providing your children with the opportunities to be mindful, healthy and engage in meaningful play will go a long way.

Be Mindful

Teaching mindfulness to your kids is about helping them tune into their senses. By becoming self-aware, they are also aware of their behaviours and how to regulate them. For example, ask them to eat a snack slowly and describe to you the taste, smell and texture. Ask them to focus on their breathing by placing their hand on their stomach and breathing slowly in and out. Go for a walk around the neighbourhood and ask them to point out things they’ve never noticed before. Meditation and yoga are also extremely beneficial in helping children practice mindfulness, and as a result improve their focus.

Be Healthy

It might seem an obvious one, but good nutrition, hydration, sleep and outdoor exercise really go a long way in helping your child concentrate.

Good Nutrition and Hydration

Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking enough water is important. Much like a plant, if we don’t receive all that we need to survive, we have no chance of thriving. If you feel that you might need some support in this area, talk to your applicable health professionals about the changes that you could make and the techniques you can implement to help ensure your family is nourished.

Sleep

Adequate sleep is important, even the most focused child will struggle to concentrate if they are tired. Remove distractions that may be keeping them up late at night such as video games and devices from their bedrooms. Create a sleep routine if possible, and try to keep the times that they go to sleep and wake up regular. Avoid activities that create overstimulation before bed, and instead engage in relaxation exercises instead.

Outdoor Exercise

The link between physical activity and academic success is no secret, as is the link between exercise and improved overall health. It is important to find activities that interest your child. You might like to sign them up to play their favourite sport, participate in hiking and orienteering activities, or go for a walk in the afternoons before dinner.

Create Time for Meaningful Play

In order for children to focus, we need to create opportunities for them to develop the skills to do so. Playing not only helps them to understand the world around them but also develops their critical thinking, problem solving, imagination, motor skills, concept formation, classification and concentration. Providing your child the opportunity to participate in meaningful play allows them to develop and extend these skills in a way that is fun and interesting to them.

There are also some activities that you could do together to help improve concentration. Card games such as memory or snap are a great option. When driving in the car you might like to play the number plate game where you give them a number plate and they recite it backwards. The key is to create games and activities that align with your child’s hobbies and interests to make it more engaging.

There are plenty of fantastic resources online that you might like to access, but as long as you help your child clear their mind, nourish their bodies, and provide them with opportunities for them to immerse themselves in play and other activities that improve concentration, you will be onto a winning formula.

Mary Kershaw

Mary Kershaw is Head of Trinity Anglican School, Kewarra Beach Campus. Mary Kershaw joined Trinity Anglican School in 2015, serving as the Head of TAS Kewarra Beach Primary Campus in 2015. Prior to TAS she held a number of senior positions at schools in New South Wales, Townsville, Ayr and Cairns. A dedicated educator, she is committed to creating a positive learning culture that supports holistic and inclusive education.