My child can t concentrate

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					                              DORRIDGE JUNIOR SCHOOL
                                    TELEPHONE : 01564 772836 (2 lines)
                                        FACSIMILE : 01564 771323
                              Head Teacher : Mr S D Taylor, B Sc (Hons), M Ed, MCT

                             My child can't concentrate

Being able to concentrate means that we are able to keep our minds focussed on a task for a
reasonable period of time. The task doesn't have to do with work. It can be reading the paper,
watching television or listening to someone talking. The period of time doesn't have to be too long.
Almost everyone stops concentrating after a while - no matter what they're doing. We all need to take
a break to help re-focus our concentration.

Children are referred to here as 'she'.

What affects my child's concentration ?

There are six factors which affect our ability to concentrate.

1       Age
Generally speaking, younger children find it harder to concentrate for as long as older children and
adults. This isn't always true of course. But if you're worried about your child's 'lack' of concentration,
you do need to know what is reasonable for a child of her age before you become too concerned.

2        Motivation and interest
If we're interested in what we're doing, we seem to be able to concentrate on it for longer than if we're
not interested. That's why many adults talk about 'time having flown' when they've been really locked
into an activity. Your child is no different. You can probably think of times when concentration appears
not to be a problem for your child. Like you, when she is interested, she will concentrate for longer. It's
as simple as that.

3       Personal circumstances
Like you, your child will find it easier to concentrate if she is less troubled in her personal life. A child
who has fallen out with friends at school, who has lost or broken a favourite toy, who isn't getting on
with her teacher, who is always being told off or who is in the middle of continuing arguments between
parents or friends will find concentration harder than other children.

4       Health
Your child's concentration is affected by her general state of health. If she doesn't get enough sleep,
always has a cold, can't see properly, has pains in her ears or is generally hungry, it's going to be
harder for her to concentrate. For some children, what they eat and drink seems to matter too. Some
children respond badly to certain fruit drinks or other foods. Finding out which food affects them and
replacing it with something else can improve their concentration very quickly.

5      The surrounding conditions
Some children - and adults - seem to be able to concentrate, whatever's going on around them. This
might be because they're very interested in what they're doing. Most of us find it hard to concentrate
when the conditions aren't right.
Generally, the more noise and activity taking place around your child, the harder she will find it to
concentrate. This doesn't mean that she needs to be locked in a soundproof room every time she
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My child can’t concentrate
needs to concentrate. It does mean that you should try to provide the best conditions you can to help

6        Knowing what's needed
It's easier to concentrate if we know what we are supposed to do and how long a task is supposed to

What can I do to help ?

Watch your child carefully

Most children can concentrate on something. Before you begin to think that your child can never
concentrate, watch her carefully for two or three days. Make a note of the times she doesn't seem to
be able to concentrate and the times she does. Look for what's happening when she is concentrating.
It might be watching television, building models, playing a game or doing a particular piece of school
work. You're likely to find some evidence that your child can concentrate for longer than you thought.
This might tell you something about her natural interests and about the conditions under which she
finds it easier to concentrate. As a result of watching your child, you might realise that concentration
isn't the real problem.

Be reasonable

Don't expect your child to be able to concentrate for too long. Most adults need a break after about 20
minutes of concentration. (Any longer than that and we only pretend to be concentrating.) As a rule of
thumb, if your five-year-old can concentrate happily for five minutes at a time, your seven-year-old for
15 minutes at a time and your 11-year-old for 20 minutes, things aren't too bad after all.

Try to interest your child in what she is doing

If your child is interested, she will concentrate better. Children do develop natural interests in some
things, but most of the time they learn to be interested by sharing the enthusiasm of others around
them. That's why parent who read often have children who read, parents who like playing with
machines have children who like playing with machines and so on. Your own interest in what your
child is doing helps develop her interest. Interest becomes motivation. Motivation helps concentration.
If you want your child to concentrate better on those tasks she is not naturally interested in, your
interest will help.

Praise more than criticise

Your interest on its own doesn't guarantee the interest of your child. Your interest could be so great
that you become frustrated with your child and start to criticise her. Interest plus praise is very
powerful, though. As adults, many of us don't like bosses who are 'always finding fault'. Yet when we
listen to our comments to our children, we often find that we find fault much more than we praise.
Praise will give your child the confidence to keep going.

Give rewards

It's fine to give rewards to your child when she works well. If you are trying to encourage your child to
concentrate more, a small reward when she has shown an improvement can work wonders. Make
sure that the reward is something your child wants. Extra television for 10 minutes is only useful if your
child wants to watch television for a little longer.

Be clear

Let your child know exactly what you want her to do and how long she has to do it for. This also makes
giving rewards easier as both you and your child know whether she has done what you asked her to.

                                                                                 Dorridge Junior School
                                                                                      Information leaflets
 2                                                                             My child can’t concentrate
Create the best conditions you can

If you want your child to concentrate on something, create the best conditions you can. Choose the
quietest place to read with your child. Turn the television down a little if she has some work to do.
Keep brothers and sisters occupied for a few minutes. Find a little space in which your child can work.
You don't have to create the perfect conditions. Just try and create the best you can.

To Sum Up

Like you, your child will be better at concentrating on some things than on others. Everything we have
already said should help you to help your child concentrate a little better. If it doesn't, your child might
have a particular problem which needs sorting out. This is when you need to talk to your doctor or ask
your child's school to investigate further.

Dorridge Junior School
Information leaflets                                                                                    3
My child can’t concentrate

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