6 ways to improve your child’s concentration

In today’s fast-paced world, we have to make a conscious effort to give our children time and space to develop their attention span. Montessori Educator, Christina Clemer shares six tips to help your child cut through the noise

improve child concentration

Children experience so many advantages in our modern society, however they also face new challenges like never before. Developing the ability to focus is one of the greatest challenges children face today.

There are a number of factors that create these challenges for your children including increased screen time, over-scheduled lives where we rush from one activity to the next, and overstimulation from simply having too many toys.

Luckily, you don’t have to abandon the comforts of modern life in order to help your child learn to concentrate. There are a few simple, concrete steps we can take to counteract the unfortunate side effects of modern life.

  1. Limit background noise

Because our lives are so busy, it can feel really strange, even uncomfortable, to sit in a quiet room and just be with your child.

It can be tempting, especially with a baby who seems oblivious anyway, to turn on the tv, play a podcast, or call a friend while he’s playing nearby. While it’s ok to do some of these things, some of the time, it’s really important to know that this background noise will impact your child’s concentration.

For young children, play is their work. Just like too much noise can distract us from focusing on our work, the same is true for children – and they can’t slip on noise canceling headphones!

  1. Create a simple, soothing environment

Similar to background noise, visual clutter can be overstimulating and distracting.  Unfortunately, many children’s environments are filled to the brim with bright colors and bold prints everywhere.

While a little color is nice, try to focus on things like natural light, soothing colors, and carefully selected photos or prints that will really stimulate your child’s curiosity.

Keeping a limited number of toys out at any one time will also help her to choose something to concentrate on, without being overwhelmed by choice.

  1. Notice and protect your child’s concentration

As parents, we often have some sort of timeline or schedule always running in the back of our minds. It might look something like this – baby is playing with her toys, that’s great, but it’s 12:00 and time for lunch, I’m going to bring her to her high chair now.

While routine and structure is important, make sure you’re not intentionally interrupting your child’s deep concentration for the next task on your to-do list.

Try to develop the habit of pausing and noticing if your child is heavily engaged with something before interrupting him for a diaper-change, a meal, or to get dressed for the park.

While this is not always possible, each time your child is allowed to exercise his focus without interruption, his ability to concentrate will grow stronger.

  1. Provide the right level of challenge to promote deep engagement

One of a Montessori teacher’s most important jobs is to observe each child and match him with work that is just the right level of challenge.  If the work is too easy, he will just play with it.  If it’s too difficult, he will become frustrated and never want to do it again.

It’s the same with the toys you offer your child. If you can find a puzzle that is the perfect level of difficulty for him, he is likely to become deeply engaged and experience great focus while he works to complete it. Children will often repeat work like this again and again, perfecting their skills and concentrating all the while.

  1. Appeal to his interests

One way that we entice Montessori children to want to work on challenging things is what we call the “point of interest”.  The point of interest is something that deeply appeals to the child and makes him want to hold and experience the work.

It might be because it contains beautiful beads for counting, or intriguing images for matching to words, but there is always something to draw the child in.

Similarly, you can appeal to your child’s own unique interests to entice him into trying something more challenging, which is more likely to draw him into a state of deep concentration.

This might be a book about his favorite animal, a puzzle featuring the beach that he loves, or a counting toy with beautifully colored beads. Use your unmatched knowledge of your child to draw him in.

  1. Take it outside

Many children experience deeper focus and a sense of peace when they are outside in nature. Unfortunately, children today get far less time outside due to both busy schedules and safety concerns.

Having time to run off their abundant energy enables children to settle in and concentrate on quiet activities later.

Many children are also better able to concentrate when working outside, which is why many Montessori schools include an outdoor classroom.

Try keeping some quiet activities, such as painting or nature books, in a cabinet outside in addition to gross motor toys. Observe your child and see if she focuses more outdoors.

 

It is a challenging time to be a parent and it can be daunting to think about how to help our children develop important life skills like being able to focus. Try these simple tweaks and observe your child to see what helps. Sometimes the smallest change in environment can lead to even greater concentration.