How to boost concentration skills of Preschoolers?
The preschool age group of children in India is around 3-5 years old. It is hard to find a child at this age sitting still at one place and focused on one task for a long time. If the adults find it hard to concentrate nowadays, imagine a child of that age, who is full of energy and enthusiasm, to explore new things with curiosity and wonderment. It is difficult to channelise their energy on one thing at a time, especially with studies and activities they might be least interested in.
However, it will be a generalized assumption to say that kids don’t like to do homework or studies. It also depends upon the kind of schooling they receive and the type of pedagogy they are exposed to. If the learning process does not allow them to participate or interact with the subject actively, it will definitely become boring for them. The children belonging 3-5 year age group can concentrate on something at most for 15 minutes, which is very short when we consider the attention required to begin and be consistent with any task. Keeping this practicality in mind, we need to find solutions to improve or expand this time period.
Reasons why preschool kids might lack concentration skills :
- Lack of interest or motivation – This is the most common reason for not just preschoolers but humans across various age groups. The moment you find something boring, you will lose the focus to accomplish that task even if it is essential. It becomes the case with daily chores since the monotony sets in the boredom and there is rarely any escape from it if they are important to make us more organized.
The same is applicable for children around the age of 3-5 years. Children are not that great with a set routine. Most of the times, they need the fun part in every activity, while studying or play. They lose their patience quite easily if that is absent. Moreover, staying away from parents, making new friends, and adapting to new space at this age is difficult for many children.
- Improper diet and lack of exercise – A healthy nutrition and right amount of body exercise will be helpful in releasing happy hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, endorphin and serotonin. The lack of it would ultimately create imbalance and reflect in their actions. Dehydration, lack of right nutrients, untimely eat and sleep plus lack of body movements hinders the focus as well. This also takes place because of increasing screen time and less outdoor play nowadays.
- Lack of good facilitation – Parents and teachers who conduct one way communication and do not allow active engagement in learning process might face the issue of a child lacking interest in learning the subjects. More theory, less practicals will bother the preschool going kids and they will get easily distracted to other space in no time. Plus absence of breaks during learning will also affect their attention.
9 Ways to improve concentration skills of preschoolers :
- Having a flexible routine – Ensure that the daily activities are scheduled in a way that lacks monotony and brings in more variability for these children. Make them involved in the scheduling process some times when its feasible. They will love to be the part of decision process.
- Including wide range of activities – This is applicable for studies and enrichment tasks like art, craft, games or any kind of community engagement. In fact, making learning fun through games, online and offline, both ways will enhance the interest of children of this age. Just ensure that they stay less on screen when you involve gamification in the process. Reward based tasks like puzzles, or board games will really fuel up their interest in being in that moment.
- Regular breaks – For all the fun they have, kids require good amount of rest to reboot their bodies and minds all the time. It is important to have frequent short breaks in between study periods. Make sure that these breaks do not require active indulgence in other form of activity that demands too much of mental or physical stimulation.
As even play breaks would demand certain amount of energy and sitting for studies after that would be exhausting for the child. They will need to rest after play too. Hence, incorporate activities that will be as simple as mindful sitting, observation or meditation with creative imagination. Or simple movements like catching bubbles, freeze and move etc.
- Narrate stories – This has been an old tradition, followed by our grandparents, parents and the ancient Guru-Shishya system wherein the teachers used to narrate fables and stories orally. Coming back to the today’s date, the screens have replaced these recitals or we get to put on our headphones and listen to some digital storytelling. Try to avoid this and bring back your narration into the place where you can make the kid travel in a fictional world.
Enact the stories with use of hand gestures, postures, and expression. If possible play a background music to enhance the process. Entertain them with your performance and make them part of that as well. It will augment their imagination skills.
- Break down tasks in small chunks – Since the concentration level of preschoolers is already low, divide the entire task in few minutes and a deadline to be achieved in that schedule. This will activate the children in doing those tasks on time and finish it as well. Moreover, be patient with them if they do not abide by the rule. Some children find it hard to cope with the pace. Keep a flexible timeline for them and let them enjoy doing it on their own.
- Communicate clearly – Avoid giving too many instructions and bombarding them with a lot of how-to-do’s and don’ts. Guide them with compassion and at a slow and steady pace. One step at a time. If they find the task difficult to accomplish, or overwhelming enough, they will lack the interest and focus to do it. Ensure that you give them precise and understandable direction.
- Understand the learning style – Everyone perceives the information differently. This has to be inculcated while drafting a pedagogy for children as well. Not everyone will be interested in the same subject. Moreover, you will need to add lot of innovative ways, trial and error methods to check what kind of facilitation works for whom. It could be difficult to cater to individual needs all the time, but we can observe and categorise children on basis of their ways of learning and include a wide of range of activities accordingly. Plus that will not make anyone feel isolated or left out in the class.
- Reduce distractions – Keep these children away from screens as much as you can. Have a set time for them to use gadgets or watch anything on television or computer.
- Spend time with them and be attentive – Children often try to seek attention and be center of attraction when they feel they are not being heard or seen by parents or teachers. Its their way to communicate their feelings. Make sure you are listening to them carefully when they are telling you something, because usually they have lot ot say and ask. Do not get too busy on phones or any other task while they are trying to have conversation with you. This also helps them in listening to you in return when you ask them to pay attention on any given task. Set an example. They will follow you gradually.