The ability to concentrate well is not something that we are born with — it’s a learned skill. However, it can be tough for students to concentrate on their studies when there are a lot of distractions. Kids are especially susceptible to distractions. A Microsoft study shows that the average human attention span is just eight seconds. That’s less than the attention span of a goldfish! What’s a parent to do?
Fortunately, there are a number of ways that children (and adults, too) can increase their ability to concentrate.
Five ways to promote your child’s concentration skills
- Use a timer. “When you work in small increments, with uninterrupted focus time in between, you’re able to get more done,” Zac Stowell, a fifth grade teacher at Northgate Elementary School in Seattle, told The Washington Post.
These breaks might include a high-energy snack (no carbs, please), a walk around the block or another physical activity, like jumping jacks or a short race. Keep the breaks tight by explaining that the longer the break, the less time there will be for fun time later.
- Start small. Breaking a large assignment or project into small, more manageable sections is a good practice for those of any age. This strategy works particularly well with children, and helps them from getting overwhelmed by an assignment and giving up on it. The Princeton Review advises that even writing a few sentences of an assigned essay each day will help keep you on track.
- Stash those electronic devices. While electronic devices can be a big help for research, they can also be a major distraction. It’s difficult (almost impossible) for kids to concentrate on homework when Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are just a few keystrokes away.
A Beyond Book-smart study found that a full 80 percent of students surveyed reported switching between study and technology either often or very often. Students can avoid that temptation by working offline and uploading their assignments once they are completed.
- Work it out. “Moving the body motivates the brain,” GreatSchools.org reports. Have your child walk or bike to school or do active chores after school. Stress the importance of engaging in a physical activity or active play before your child sits down to do homework.
- Find a study buddy. Studying with a friend helps keep your student accountable. While she may put off an assignment on her own, she is more likely to complete that work when she has to explain to her study buddy that she’s not holding up her end of the bargain. A study buddy can also spark healthy competition between students and encourage both student partners to do the best work possible. Remember, however, that the wrong partner can actually be more of a distraction than a help.
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