Considering Concentartion

Imposed concentration or joyful focus? If the work is attractive or it sparks the interest, children will cross usual concentration period of 20 min. If its enforced, one may not even wanting to do. Let’s be F-A-I-R to children.

My first encounter with concentration was when a yoga teacher asked me to close my eyes and concentrate on my breathing only. Thirty seconds, and I was already thinking all kinds of thoughts, far away from any type of concentration.

If you have never practiced yoga, try this NOW and see how far you can go. At an age about thirty years less than ours, are we over expecting from children? Is a child, at this tender age really supposed to be able to concentrate for long duration? Are we being unreasonable? Can’t we consider this as yet another skill the child will acquire as he grows up?

Now tell me, if I gave you an extremely boring task to do, will you be able to concentrate? Which means level of interest is directly proportional to level of concentration.
Does you child show lot of concentration when playing with his car or gun or doll or computer game? In which case is his concentration low or the ability of the task to engage his attention low?

So next time before you complain about child’s concentration, let’s see if the child wants to complain about the interest level of task.

Our brain is a goal oriented organ. Once it knows why and what is to be done, it is able to generate resourcefulness for the task. Most time we just command our children to do something, without them having a clear idea of the objective or the Aim of the task.

Two construction workers were laying bricks. Asked what they were doing, one answered, “I’m laying bricks.” The other replied, “I’m building a temple”.

Clearly what counts is not so much what work a person does, but what he perceives he is doing it for.

Ensure the Aim makes sense to the child; it is relevant from child’s point of view. If you can’t convince why I should do something, how can you expect me to concentrate on it? Can you push me to concentrate?

Also the Aim should be challenging for the child. But while challenging, it should be within ability. If it is frustrating, it’s distracting. If math is where your child doesn’t concentrate, check if she knows how to solve the problem. If writing is what is distracting, check out if constructing sentences or spellings are frustrating her.

Research has shown that human brain concentrates continuously best for twenty minutes. In a classroom check out how the first twenty minutes go like a flash and how the eyes turn towards the watch in the rest of the time. Research suggests that it is best to take a small break after every twenty minutes of concentrated work. Which leads to planning of study or homework time into chunks of twenty minutes each, with breaks of five minutes in between. So rather than spending the study time standing on their head, it’s a good idea to spend these breaks with the children – eating, singing, dancing – having some fun.

Can you ever concentrate when fear is on your mind? Especially with studies, a whole lot of time children have fear of making mistakes or getting scolding from parents or teachers. Build a praise system that looks for positive, and children will concentrate to generate more positives. So even if your child did just three out of ten right, praise her for that, not reprimand for getting the seven wrong. See her concentrate to get the praising on the seven the next time.

Let me sum this up with a (trademark) formula called FAIR:

  • ‘F’ for FUN– if I am enjoying, I am concentrating.
  • ‘A’ for AIM– the more clear I am why, the more I apply.
  • ‘I’ for Interest– cater to my interest and distractions are no more interesting.
  • R’ for Rewards– if I get sensitive praising and encouragement, I am most eager.

Remember concentration is a habit of mind. One needs to help children develop it (see Lovely Labels below). Without expecting it as something natural, let’s put effort in providing them opportunities to do so.

SIDENOTE: While most children are able to develop concentration quite naturally, some children suffer from acute lack of concentration, which is clinically termed as “Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADD/ ADHD). If you child is not able to concentrate at all for any task whatsoever, it is recommended that you first consult your pediatrician who may then recommend you to proper diagnostic tests.
Do also read a very sensible book on the subject – The Myth of an ADHD child by Thomas Armstrong.
In fact a very interesting article is available on his websiteclick here