Tips to developing your child's ability to concentrate.
Concentration is way more important for a child, than all the designer clothes and toys you can buy for them. Place an enormous importance and value on working hard at helping your child develop this life-giving gift and, in so doing, make life and school so much easier for you both.
Consciously create peaceful times for yourself as an expectant mother
Talk gently and read gentle poetry to your baby
Slow down - let your baby hear the gentleness of your quieter heartbeat
Let your baby grow used to this 'quiet time' for you both
Play gentle music to your baby - ideally some gentle classical music.
Let your baby become familiar with the music - keep repeating the same pieces. Such music, when later played to a baby, has been known to soothe and calm babies
No matter how busy you may be, do try to create such moments, even if only once a week.
Birth To Three Months:
Again - consciously create peaceful times for yourself and your baby, no matter how hard or infrequent it may be possible to do so.
Play 'your music' for you both
Read ' your poetry' for you both
Spend quiet times together - in silence
Sit and silently watch your baby - just watch, do not touch.
Sit and gently stroke your baby - long tender strokes - it is good for you both
By doing this, you are not only slowing down the world for you both, but you are making the world more familiar for your baby. These special times together will touch memory chords in your baby.
They will also be important bonding times for you both. Concentration begins in this way.
Three To Six Months/Six To Twelve Months:
This is more a time of 'standing back', of being conscious of how easily you can interrupt the development of concentration in a young baby. Granted this interruption generally stems from love and attention. It is important to also realise - too much attention can destroy concentration.
So hesitate, stand back - silently, hold your breath, create moments when your baby can experience and do the following:
Let your baby lie on its back and wonder at its fingers
Place your baby where they can lie and watch clothes flapping on the clothes line
Watch quietly as your baby follows the play of the cat with a bunch of fallen leaves
Let your baby chat happily in their cot - this may only be possible at weekends
Watch for all occasions when you can quietly and safely slip out of sight and most definitely out of sound. Add stories to the reading and continue all the other earlier activities as well.
One To Two Year Old
Again - continue all the earlier activities, but also be alert to ways that you can "concentrate together".
Consciously create moments when you can be quiet together
Watch a bird on the electric wire together - in silence
Create opportunities to play safely with either dough or playdough
Find 'childsize' rollerpins and pastry cut-outs for your child to use
Facilitate waterplay either at the kitchen sink or in the bath
Provide beakers that allow the child to get lost in pouring activities
Provide building blocks - timber ones if possible, they are soothing to handle
Don't get into the habit of 'doing the building' for your child - let them build themselves
Keep reading to your child but leave suitable child size books around the house as well
Enjoy the way your child will begin to happily spend time involved in different activities.
Initially, it may only be for seconds, but the seconds will grow and soon you find seconds become minutes. Herein lies the secret of easy parenting, easy childhood, easy school and 'best friends'.
Should you have started the earlier activities from birth you will find it easier to continue with them now. If they are new to you - then you can start introducing them during these months as well.
Two To Three Years Of Age
If the earlier years have been well watched then such a two to three year old will have immense potential for huge leaps in concentration during these years. If you are reading this, for the first time, and you have not started consciously developing concentration in your child - then start at the beginning (from birth programme onwards) and slowly you will watch your child 'catch-up".
Activities become a much bigger part of developing concentration in the two to three year old.
Watch for opportunities to develop and facilitate the following:
Go for gentle walks together. Such a walk is not a fast walk to the shops and back - for the messages. The kind of walk I mean is a slow and meandering walk - and where possible, repeating the same way - there and back. A child loves the familiar and will take in more on their journey.
Such a walk can be in a park, around your estate, around your own garden.
The most important thing you will need - is time. Time to let your child feel the stones in the wall. Time to look over walls and peer in gates, ideally at donkeys, at birds, at dogs, at other people's cats
at play. Time to touch and feel flowers. Time to sit together and quietly watch water. Time to listen to silence. Time to listen to the wind. All of this is possible and such a walk can be absolutely
amazing, especially for the parent, if they are doing and hearing this for the first time.
More advanced Block Building can occur now - again allow your child build on their own. Be there to admire - its height, the colours used, the hardwork put into the effort. But don't build. Father's can take them out later, when Junior is gone to bed - and play with them then themselves!
Seek out attractive six-piece jigsaws. Watch-out for giant piece jigsaws - they can be easier to begin with.
Again books - big-sized picture books on their own. Books also for you to read to them.
Again, continue and develop all the earlier activities. With the young child, familiarity builds security and strength. Concentration becomes a natural part of their personality
and disposition. As a parent, you may also find, that you too are beginning to slow down.
As will happen throughout your future parenting years, parents quite often learn their most valuable lessons in life from their children. Be prepared for such change in you too.
Concentration involves the abilities to focus, screen out distractions, delay gratification, and regulate impulses and emotional responses. When a 5 year old is able to sit still in school, learn letters and numbers, and even acquire pre-reading skills, you think this is amazing, as the year before she was a "live wire". At even the age of five a child can reflect on her/his own thinking.
The child also learns a command of language, can talk her/himself through tough situations, and doesn't get frustrated and give up.
Now we have to be realistic and try to break down a child's tasks so that they are within manageable limits. Say we ask them to pick up toys, and then we ask them next to pick up clothes and also tell them where we want them to put the clothes. A child of five has a short attention span: we must remember this.
At the ages of 7-9, children's ability to concentrate seems to take a leap forward because of continued brain development. Their short-term memory and language skills improve and they are able to recall and organize steps in doing their tasks, such as coping and doing homework. They are able to sit also still while watching a play or movie.
At the ages of 9-12, concentration and brain development continue to progress. They also have achieved motivation. The child is able to work through a project, step by step. Now their concentration and motivation can also be related to sporting activities, etc.
To get our children to concentrate more, for example while studying, keep the radio and TV off to relieve distractions. Then set some reasonable and clear time expectations for her/him to complete an activity, no matter what the task.
Make sure s/he gets plenty of sleep: when a child has not had enough rest the night before s/he tends to not have the concentration abilities s/he has when well rested. Also let her/him run around and get lots of exercise, this will increase blood flow to the brain and also stimulate hormonal responses that increase mental sharpness. You might also play games with your child such as Memory and Concentration; these games will reinforce attention skills.
Remember, your child needs you to help manage her/his interests and to have a healthy balance.