Child Educational Psychologist, Maria Montessori, believed that concentration is required for learning. As such, a lack of the ability to concentrate or being easily distracted means that the child will not be able to make the best of his learning opportunities in kindergarten. So how do you increase your child’s concentration/attention span?
First, you need to know that children have the natural ability to concentrate (and if you don’t believe me, try turning on the TV!). The problem is getting them to stay on task for things, which are not on TV or smart phones or Ipads. To prepare them for kindergarten, may I suggest that you use this summer holidays to turn off the TV and to provide them with opportunities to be engaged in activities, which will hold and extend their concentration span. Here’s a tip: find activities, which stimulate their senses, which are hands-on or which allows them to explore. Before you attempt this, make sure you free up their schedule so that they can be engrossed in the activity for as long as their attention span stretches out. Interrupting them halfway through their activity will unlikely be beneficial to prolonging their concentration span (and not to mention their interest for learning). Once you find out what activities interest your child (be it hand painting or singing to a music CD or constructing with play dough), find ways to make it more interesting each time so that they will be more engaged and will find different ways to be creative with it. If you can keep at this every day, before the summer holidays are up, you would have found that your child is able to stay on task for a much longer period of time.
Secondly, sleep is a huge determining factor to children’s ability to concentrate. Actually, it is that case for most human beings. We loose our ability to stay focused if we didn’t have a good night’s rest. It’s worse for children because children need a minimum of 12 units of sleep a day. Here’s the calculation: one unit of sleep per hour for every hour after midnight and two units per hour for every hour before midnight. This guide applies for kindergarten aged children. With enough high quality sleep, they can be at their best on the very next day.
Thirdly, take a closer look at their diet. Too much drinks or food containing sugar will put them into a glycemic roller coaster where they will be bouncing back and fourth between being hyper and moody with every shot of sugar. It’s hard to concentrate when your body’s struggling so hard to maintain balance. Also, children need to keep hydrated as much as possible (5 glasses a day and more if they have been outdoors) so that the rest of their systems are functioning at optimal level. As the saying goes, “a sound body, a sound mind”.