From specialized preschools to educational apps for toddlers, today’s parents are more concerned with their children’s success than ever. But are these tools teaching the top-needed skill of the future? In most cases, the answer is “no,” but don’t worry—you can help your child develop flexible mental skills that will prepare her for tomorrow’s success, whatever that may look like. The number one anticipated skill needed in the future? Focus! Read on to find expert tips to improve a child’s concentration from a psychologist in Littleton.
Why Concentrate? Can’t We Multitask?
In the modern world where we get hundreds of signals each minute, many ask, why focus on concentration? Isn’t it better to be good at multitasking? In truth, humans are awful at multitasking! It typically takes longer than doing the two tasks at separate times, increases anxiety and frustration, and makes it more likely that you will make mistakes. In fact, when hospital nurses wear clear signs telling others they are busy and not to be bothered, they make up to 70% fewer errors! The same is true for your child.
What Does Concentration Look Like?
Concentration is difficult to define. Many people think of concentration as military focus, fixating on one’s task like a soldier until it is finished. In reality, human ability to concentrate goes up and down, just like your running ability. Sometimes you can “sprint,” at other times, you would benefit from a rest. When your child is concentrated, he is focused mentally and physically, engaged in the task, and thinking a lot—about that task. This state is easily disrupted, and it can take up to 15 minutes to re-engage once concentration is broken! For some kids, wiggling or fidgeting can actually improve mental concentration; for others, a silent, distraction-free environment is a must.
Fun Activities to Build Focus Skills
Now, the real fun! How can you build focus skills in your child? Try these great tips:
Increase mindfulness by playing “I spy” or a variation on the game where each person tries to notice something new.
Play concentration-based games like “memory” cards, hidden object pictures, or turn-taking games.
Read! Reading for just 15 minutes decreases stress and promotes the deep focus that so many kids struggle with today.
Draw. Even tracing a design or copying from a photo builds attention to detail and focusing skills.
Check the basics. Is your child getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and checking out at the annual physical or well-child exam?
Timers. Little kids love being timed for most things, but even teens may be surprised by how long a task takes. For a science twist, have your child predict whether it will take longer to do tasks at the same time or separately and let science be your answer! Other fun experiments include “homework with cell phone vs without cell phone ” and “getting dressed in the morning with and without music playing.”
Ready to build concentration skills today? Try these great tips! If your child’s concentration challenges are causing distraction, concern with teachers, or if your child feels he just can’t ever focus, consider contact your trusted Littleton child psychologist for further evaluation and strategies.