“Sit still and listen to the class. Don’t fidget while writing.”
How often have you used these words during your kid’s online classes or while he/she is studying or completing homework?
I have used it numerous times to get my 6-year-old kid to focus. The pandemic situation and absence of physical classes at school has made it a herculean task for me to make my kid focus during class and concentrate during study, homework or even to finish food before it gets cold. This made me do some research on how to improve concentration and focus in kids. I am listing down some tips which I found helpful.
Kids naturally have limited focus timespan on one task and are very easily distracted. Their natural curiosity to inspect and know everything and the high energy levels don’t allow them to sit in one place or complete one task with peace. They tend to keep jumping from one activity to another.
The needs and interests of kids are very different from adults. Hence, we cannot follow the same techniques used to improve concentration and focus in adults, on kids. Kids need more refined and playful activities to capture their attention and help them hold interest and attention on the activity.
Reasons for lack/low concentration in kids:
Before I start listing down the games and activities to improve concentration and focus, let me write about the reasons as to why the child has low concentration in the first place and on factors that we may need to pay attention.
- Lack of focus is because the kids find the activities boring and uninteresting.
- Age is also a factor. Younger kids have low concentration levels compared to older ones.
- They are easily distracted and are attracted to other noises or things happening around them.
- Kids with low concentration seem to be in an imaginary world of their own, day dreaming and role playing from stories they heard or cartoons they have watched.
- Lack of understanding which leads to difficulty in following instructions.
- Lack of healthy diet and proper sleep also affects concentration levels.
- Unhealthy food habits.
- A noisy and disturbed surrounding or other family situations also affects the child’s concentration.
- Lack of motivation and passion to do a task. Forcing the child to engage in activities in which they are not interested.
- Lack of physical exercise and spending too much time on gadgets and television.
- Lack of attention and personal time given to kids by parents/guardians. If the child is left alone for too long without any interaction.
- Lack of daily routine and discipline.
- Lack of a happy atmosphere and mood swings. Maintaining a relaxed and calm mind is necessary to improve concentration.
- Conditions with learning and understanding difficulties like autism, dyslexia or dyscalculia also affect concentration. ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) also affects focus and concentrating ability.
Games and activities that can help to improve concentration and focus in kids:
Bring in activities that the kid enjoys:
Try to select activities that the kid will enjoy. If the child likes what he/she is doing they are likely to spend more time on it.
For e.g.: If the kid likes to play with colours, give creative things to paint and colour. It could be different pictures, different textures to paint on like pot, stone or bottles, different materials like crayons, sketch pens, water colours. Keep a note on how much time the child will spend on the activity without getting distracted. This should help you figure out if the activity can be used as a medium to relax, encourage the child which will eventually help to improve concentration and focus.
Some kids like to play with clay and sand. Think of innovative ways to involve them in activities using those materials. If a kid likes building blocks, help them make new models which boosts their creativity and also helps them concentrate.
But don’t expect too much from the child as well. Set realistic goals and try to improve on them.
Jigsaw puzzles and building blocks:
These games are the best to improve focus and concentration.
A jigsaw puzzle requires involvement to guess and judge to combine the right pieces together to complete the picture. Select a jigsaw puzzle concept that appeals to the kid, like any particular cartoon/colourful animals/construction vehicles. This will get the child interested to solve the puzzle. Forming different shapes using Tangram puzzle polygons is also very helpful.
Building different models using blocks like Lego, or building a tower using wooden blocks/cards/Zenga, arranging the block to set off a Domino effect are great activities to improve focus and attention. The kid gets committed to build/solve the activity in hand which helps greatly to improve concentration and focus.
Memorizing and Matching games:
In this game, flash cards containing different pictures are kept upside down. Two of the cards have same picture, the kid has to recognise, memorize and match the cards/tiles. These require proper focus to find the solution. An easy and fun way to improve memory and concentration.
Day to day tasks can be converted as a memorising game for e.g., memorising a shopping list and remembering the items while picking them at the shop, memorising items required to do a simple cooking recipe, etc.
Ask the kid to narrate the events of the day, like what games he/she played, what they ate, what show they watched on TV etc. which involves recollecting the events of the day. This builds language skills and recalling and narrating needs proper focus and concentration.
Give simple activities and ask kids to complete it within a set time. Like organizing or tidying their toys or arranging their books in the shelf. Mix different coloured beads in a tray and sort the beads into different bowls according to colours. Same activity can be used to sort different pulses or nuts.
We can also ask the kid to draw a simple animal/vehicle within a set time. This not only boosts creativity; it also improves concentration. Setting a time limit makes the tasks challenging and the kids will pay full attention and focus to complete the task on time.
Sequencing and stringing games:
Thread some beads to a string, improvise by making a repeat pattern of colours to follow while stringing beads. We can also use different pasta, foam shapes with a hole.
Sequencing games like arranging the alphabet/number blocks in correct order, arranging the different coloured blocks in a particular pattern, arranging the story flashcards in their proper order.
These games not only improve hand-eye coordination, but also require great focus and concentration.
Listen and act games:
Games like “Simon says…”, “I spy…” are great when it comes to improving listening skills and concentration.
In “Simon Says..”, one person gives instruction like “Simon says..turn around”, “Simon says…jump up high”, etc. The kid needs to act on only the instructions that Simon says and .
In “I spy..”, one person says he sees an object of a particular colour in the room/somewhere around them and the other person has to guess the object.
The games require kids to pay attention on the instructions before they act and so are a great way to improve observation skills and concentration.
Reciting shlokas, poems, rhymes and Tongue Twisters:
Memorising and reciting simple poems and rhymes, not just improves language and vocabulary but also serve as a great tool for improving concentration.
Reciting Sanskrit shlokas or verses are a great way to improve memory and focus as the kids need to concentrate and recall the formation of words. Reciting shlokas help to relax and feel focused. They relieve tension and restlessness. For e.g.,
- Gayatri mantra –
Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ Swaḥ
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonaḥ Prachodayāt
- Shanti mantra
Om sahana vavatu sahanau bhunaktu
tejasvi navaditamastu ma vidhwishavahai
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi
Tongue twisters are another great way to when it comes to improve concentration. The tricky way of sentence formation, gets the kid thinking to pronounce correctly while reciting. For e.g.,
- A big black bug bit a big black dog on his big black nose.
- Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair,Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?
- Red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry, yellow lorry, red lorry, yellow lorry.
- If you notice this notice, you will notice that this notice is not worth noticing.
Physical exercises and Yoga:
Exercise is very important for the overall development of the child. Due to lack of outdoor activities, it is the need of the hour that we set aside some time during the day for physical exercise and yoga.
These activities help maintain a healthy body and energise the mind to think clearly.
Yoga helps to relax mind and body and this helps to concentrate and focus better while doing tasks.
These are some fun games and activities which the kids will love and are also a great help to improve concentration and help kids focus better.
Some of the games mentioned also help to improve memory, build language and motor skills, help in cognitive development of the child. They get the kids thinking in many new ways to find solutions and so boost imagination and creativity.
Hope you find a great activity for your kid from the ones mentioned above. Let me know how it helped you in the comments.