We regularly ask children to pay attention and concentrate and are often met with – “I am concentrating” – as they are gazing off somewhere else, seemingly daydreaming or listening in on a neighbouring whisper. So, what do we actually want children to do?
We want children to concentrate, by having the ability to focus on a task while ignoring distractions. This is not always possible with the endless interferences in any given situation; such as social media platforms, interactions with friends, and advanced technology such as TVs, smartphones, and gaming, to name a few.
Firstly, we must differentiate between attention and concentration, as they are not exactly the same thing. When we pay attention to something, we are entirely focused on one item and filter out everything else; however, when we concentrate, we are fully immersed in the here and now. Accordingly, when we concentrate, we are mentally prepared for what is to come and ready for deep and meaningful learning. Secondly, what is it that affects our concentration? Age and lack of sleep are the top two factors that affect our concentration. Stress and anxiety also affect our concentration because during such times our brain is distracted, overwhelmed, and overstimulated.
Check out a few tips below on how to enhance your concentration:
- Get enough sleep – The Sleep Council’s sleep circle indicate what research has found as the required amount of sleep for different age groups to endure individuals are functioning at their optimal performance.
- Train your brain for 15 minutes a day – research has shown that training your brain using various games, such as Sudoku, word puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, chess, memory games, etc. improves individuals’ cognitive processes, including boosting concentration, working memory, short-term memory, and problem-solving skills.
- Create a distraction-free environment – set up a workspace in a calm place around the house, away from things that could be distracting to your child; e.g. TV, smartphones, siblings playing, etc.
- Exercise – daily physical activity (30 minutes a day such as walking, jogging, swimming, etc) can improve concentration and attention. Get those endorphins running through your body!
- Colouring – helps improve attention & concentration; available online or in bookstores.
- Take a break – divide tasks into smaller sub-tasks and take breaks in between to ensure your mind is clear and refreshed before you start again.
- Limit your time on social media – try to cut it in half of what your average usage is.
- To-Do List – set up goals that are easily achievable to get motivated.
- Selfcare – write down things you enjoy doing and do them every day. After doing something from your to-do list do something that you enjoy.
- Spend time in nature – It doesn’t matter where and how long but it reduces anxiety, depression and reduces stress. Simple as that.
- Healthy Body Healthy Spirit – Vary your diet. To boost concentration, try eating more of the following: fatty fish (think salmon and trout), eggs, blueberries, spinach, nuts, dark chocolate.
Ana Cubra, Secondary Social–Emotional Counselor, International School Dhaka.