Dr Richard C. Woolfson
It is so frustrating to see your six-year-old sit for hours glued to the television without moving, when you know the minute she gets into the classroom she is all over the place. You struggle to understand how her concentration for learning is so poor, while her concentration for leisure is so good!
Concentration, however, is connected with other aspects of your child’s development and thinking. For instance, it depends on her:
Interest in the activity.Your child aged five or six years only concentrates on something that grabs her interest – if she has no enthusiasm for work in the classroom, she will allow her mind to wander.
Desire to learn. Most children have intrinsic curiosity, which drives them to imbibe new information and learn new skills at every opportunity. If your child’s curiosity isn’t so strong, then she will have difficulty concentrating in the classroom.
General alertness. Concentration also depends on your child’s level of wakefulness and freshness. If she is tired, hungry, thirsty or unwell, her ability to concentrate on learning will be greatly diminished.
Check Out The Learning Environment
Before expressing annoyance at your child for her lack of concentration in the classroom, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does she sleep well at night and appear rested each morning?
- Is her general health good?
- Is she well organised when she leaves for school?
- Is her classroom airy, bright and at a satisfactory temperature?
- Can your child drink plenty of fresh, cold water throughout her school day?
- Are pupils in her class allowed to visit the toilet whenever they want?
- Does the class follow a structured, daily routine quietly and calmly?
If you answered “NO” to three or more of these questions, then it is possible that your child isn’t comfortable in the learning environment. This could explain her lack of concentration. Think about ways in which the learning environment could be changed to become more suitable for her.
Learning Skills & The Curriculum
The next stage is to consider the possibility that your child concentrates on everything except learning because learning in the classroom is too challenging for her. After all, if you had to go into work every day to a job that you couldn’t do properly no matter how hard you tried, your mind would soon wander. The same applies to your six-year-old.
Have a chat with your child’s class teacher. Discuss her learning skills (how she copes with acquiring new information and concepts) and also her curriculum (her books and other learning materials used in school). There needs to be a close match between her ability and her educational programme – a mismatch will result in reduced concentration and distractibility.
And finally, do what you can to boost your child’s motivation and enthusiasm for learning in the classroom. Discuss her programme each day when she arrives home in the afternoon; ask her to tell you about the different learning experiences she had that day.
Praise her successes and efforts to complete her educational assignments. Homework should also be a priority – despite protests, set aside 5 or 10 minutes each evening to supervise your child with any homework given in school that day. These basic supportive measures are more likely to lead to improved concentration for learning than an alternative approach based on confrontation and disapproval.
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