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Parents: 5 tips to help your child focus

Many parents tell me that their child finds it difficult to focus in lessons. If this rings true for you, then I hope that this article will help. Attention span, or the ability to stay focused on a task while avoiding distractions, is a crucial skill. Your child’s lack of focus at school can impact their potential to learn and to achieve good grades. Helping children get the most out of their education and learn focusing skills in the classroom can be difficult, but by working together, it’s likely that their ability to pay better attention can improve. Luckily, there are ways to hone the skill of concentration and improve focused attention. Here are five simple tips to consider when helping your child:

 

1. Have a good breakfast. This may seem irrelevant to focusing during lessons, but eating a nutritious meal in the morning will give your child fresh energy for the day. Now, a good breakfast does not just mean a big breakfast. Try and provide variety; some slices of toast or a bowl of cereal, some fruit or fresh orange juice (with pulp, if possible), yoghurt and a boiled egg is an example of a good breakfast. If your child consumes a meal such as this, they’ll feel more energised and less tired throughout the day; paying attention will be much easier.

2. Get a good night’s sleep. Students should get at least nine hours of sleep each night. However, it’s hard to maintain those good sleep habits. Set a bedtime routine, and encourage your child to go to bed at the same time each night. Check on them at intervals to ensure they are in bed and not otherwise occupied. Their mind will not be able to concentrate if it’s not rested.

3. Remove distractions. Try and remove as many distractions from their environment as possible. Some children get distracted easily and that can be normal. Problems arise when distractions keep us from learning. Is that loud music holding all their attention? Then encourage them to lower the volume so that they can focus. How about that Playstation humming in the corner of the room? Encourage them to turn it off and start taking notes. Does your child have a mobile phone permanently in the palm of their hand? Encourage them to put it away when doing homework or in the company of others. Remember, the behaviours and habits they learn at home will be the ones they bring into the classroom.

4. Engage and communicate. When you ask your child to help at home or get prepared for an activity, be sure you get their attention. Teach them to give you eye contact when you talk to them. You may want to check their attention by asking them to repeat your instructions. Limit screen time (television/gaming/computers) so they don’t become dependent on constant stimulation for attention, and listen to audio books in the car so they sharpen their listening skills.

5. Play games.  Engage your child with activities that require focused attention and develop imagination. Play board games together as a family. Encourage focused attention and healthy competition by regularly playing games. Whether it is ‘I spy’ on a car journey, or asking your child questions about a recent experience, simple games and meaningful conversations can rapidly increase their ability to focus.

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