Being able to focus and pay attention is important for learning and holding one’s attention. This is important in three ways. First, your child has to pay attention to take the information in. Secondly, the information has to move to the part of the brain that retains the information and add to long-term memory. Lastly, the information has to be recalled, so that it can be remembered at the right time. Many children struggle with these processes and it can be difficult to know where the difficulties lie for each child. A few tips can help in improving children’s school grades and in learning new tasks.
Reducing distractions when we are trying to learn a new task is important. We are surrounded by distractions in our everyday world and who knows this better than your school going child. There is television, social media, and phone technology which can make it difficult to pay attention while watching you-tube clips at the same time.
Have movement breaks when studying. In order to help consolidate learning it is important to take breaks between topics. Instead of getting on to social media, encourage your child to have a movement break. This stimulates learning and parts of the brain light up that help children retain information better. Moving your body helps to stay focused and is a good tool for learning new tasks. The vestibular nerve is stimulated with movement and it helps the brain to be focused.
Don’t be upset when your child is fidgeting and squirming when you are tyring to do homework with them. They are trying to focus by using movement and are doing this unconsciously. Have lots of fun breaks in between learning tasks that could involve your child moving around and this will help their focus.
In order for children to be engaged on one topic, it needs to be presented in a fun way and this helps to engage them fully. Children have a short attention span. Helping them learn in new ways and with lots of movement breaks helps them in all the stages of learning.
Helping children have time to repeat the tasks helps them to recall things that they have learnt. It is important to children understand when their attention is decreasing. This will help them to let you know when they need to do something for themselves in order to improve their focus and concentration. With the right tools, a child can learn faster and with more focus than increasing time on tasks that tires them out and may decrease their interest in learning and having fun with new tasks. Some of the most productive schooling systems in the world advocate less learning time and use lots of tools to make the time used for learning as effective as possible. If you have concerns about why your child may not be able to concentrate or learn at the pace expected of their age level, talk to a psychologist trained in educational psychology or children’s health clinic Melbourne, to help and build your child’s self-confidence and skills to be a happy learner.
Written by Dr Raj Khillan,
Director Western Specialist Centre
and, Dr Malini Singh, Psychologist, Change for Life