Children can have a hard time concentrating for many reasons. Children with ADD/ADHD have a particularly hard time not getting distracted, so homework can be quite the challenge for them. Other children may be distracted for other reasons, maybe they are having a hard time understanding the material so they can’t concentrate, or maybe there is a lot going on at home. Both parents and teacher can use certain techniques to improve the child’s ease to concentrate.
Children that have trouble concentrating will not be able to adhere to the more traditional techniques such as sitting down at a table for a long time, pen and paper in hand with books and study notes. In order to help them do better in school, the following strategies can be used.
Communication Between School Staff and Parents
Communication between teachers, parents, guidance counsellors, and other support staff children may have is very important. The parent may have sought out some outside treatment, and received recommendations from these sources as how to best help this particular child. It is important for everyone involved to realize that no matter if the child has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD or something else, they are all different and need an individualised approach which best meets their needs.
One way to help a child focus when they are studying is to allow them to move around. They can either do this by walking around with the book in their hand while they try to memorize stuff, or have it on a easel of some sort. An example of how this can be incorporated is when trying to learn spelling words. With someone’s help, they can dictate the spelling word, and the child can take one step forward for each letter they spell correctly. Moving will help avoid distractions they will have sitting still.
Find a Distraction Item
When it is impossible for the child to move around because they are in class, they need to have an item they can use to distract themselves and allow them to concentrate better. This can be something as subtle as a stress ball that a child can have to calm them down thus allowing them to increase their attention towards the material that is being taught.
Say it Out Loud
This is a good technique for anyone who is an auditory learner. When a child has a hard time concentrating, when reading something in their head they will not recall anything they are reading. That being said, when they read it out loud it forces them to concentrate on what they are reading. It is not only important to read out loud, but the child should also say it in their own words afterwards.
Gather Everything they Will Need in Advance
Having everything they will need at their fingertips will help them avoid distractions. When a child has to get up to get something they need, they may get caught by something on TV they want to see, or may stop to talk to a sibling. It is important to know what they will need in advance. This includes a glass of water if they like to have something to drink while studying.
Study for Short Periods at a Time
Because they have a hard time concentrating, studying for a long period of time will be hard and discouraging for the child. For this reason, it is better for these children to work very hard, but for short periods. This will not only improve their ability to retain information and do better on their assignments, but in the end it will also be less time consuming.
Give your Child Structure
It is important for the child to have a set schedule of how their day is going to be. It is best for this to be written somewhere so that the child can look at it often. It will help them concentrate if they know that there will be a time to eat, a time to study and also a time for them to do the things they enjoy. As important as it is to make the schedule, this is the easy part. It is important to stick to it so the child adheres to this structure. For example, if they have no homework on certain nights, study time should still be used to do something like reading a book or magazine.
Change Subjects Often
When a child is doing an assignment or studying, it is important to let them change subjects often. This means that when they are working on something and you, or they notice their attention drifting, they should switch to a different subject. When doing homework, there could be several switches back and forth before everything is completed, but as with studying for short periods at a time, this will also increase the amount of work they complete in the end.
Talk it Out with Others
One of the best ways to get more help and strategies on helping your child concentrate is to talk to other people. This can include speaking to parents, teachers or relatives. Many people have dealt with similar situations, and may have some suggestions that have worked for them in the past.
In conclusion, although having a child who is easily distracted can be frustrating at times, it is important to remain calm and not blame the child. Chances that having a hard time studying, which in turns hinders their performance at school, is as frustrating for them as it is for you. It is important to stay positive, and try different things to see what works best for a particular child, after all they are all unique.