Children naturally have a short concentration span. They start with a lot of enthusiasm then find something more interesting to look at or explore. This is completely normal; it just means they are still growing, and the need to absorb the knowledge through all senses supersedes the need to concentrate on one specific facet, however important it might be (to their parent).
Homeschooling parents often find they have this issue with regards to getting their children to concentrate on learning in their environment that is usually used for play and downtime: the home. This is especially true when the room they do their “schooling” in, is also the “TV room”. Their brain will very much associate this room with leisure.
According to child psychologists, this is a natural occurrence and is rarely a cause for concern. However, there are still ways to capture your child’s attention span that are easy and natural.
Let’s go through some of the possible causes and how to overcome them.
What causes lack of concentration?
The most common cause is poor routine.
All children, especially those coming from an educational facility to being homeschooled, need a consistent, reliable routine.
The routine is put in place to train the child’s mind into accepting and handling more and more responsibilities. A consistent routine gives children focus because they are aware of their activities at each particular time, that they start and end and another activity starts.
That being said, the routine should be flexible and accommodating to the child’s needs. Time to themselves to do as they please should balance their needs as children and the expectations set to nurture them. A good balance will make the routine more natural and acceptable to the child, minimizing the risk of and friction.
Diet plays a significant role in the concentration of a child.
Diets rich in sugar, fats, and junk food without any sustaining nutrition tends to make children energetic and hyperactive, naturally, after consuming calorie-dense or sugar dense food their focus will be on moving around and playing, to burn that energy instead of concentrating on learning.
Consistent mealtimes and a diet which consist of a balanced meal allows for easier digestion, and the full process of food consumption will be done as needed, in time for the child to have room for proper concentration on learning activities. Parents need to be aware of the importance of observing a proper diet and mealtime.
Unfortunately, diet is usually a sore subject and despite this being proven, diet is the thing parents find the hardest to adjust.
3. Medications or illness/disorders.
Organic disorders like ADHD will most definitely affect how much a child is able to concentrate. Additionally, the medications they take to manage the disorder, have been known to cloud the child’s thinking; they also reduce the child’s general functionality because their mind is not mature enough to protect itself from the effects.
The medication could actually end up shrinking bits and parts of the child’s brain denying them standard functionality.
Dr. Umar Johnson talks a lot about ADHD, misdiagnosis and also the effects of medication given to children.
4. Instability in the home front.
At home, there could potentially be many factors which affect a child’s concentration level.
These include arguments between parents or siblings, new relationships in the house, family disagreements, and friction. For a child going to school, such conditions are already hard enough and will likely play on their mind throughout the school day; for a child who stays at home being homeschooled, they are exposed to that toxicity all day and night.
It’s difficult for the child to avoid being distracted and losing concentration in learning in such a situation. Such psychological problems can have a lingering effect on your child outside of concentration in learning.
What improves the concentration?
1. Exercises which improve a child’s concentration:
Several exercises have been known to improve the concentration level of a child. One of them is visual learning exercises.
These include diagrams, colours, and other innovative ways of relaying the lesson that doesn’t have words and reading only. Spot the difference games are considered one of the brilliant ways of getting your child attentive to small details, requiring complete concentration.
They can be tailored to a child’s age and are readily available. Such games include puzzles tailored for learning exercise only, such as asking to spot certain words in English, which helps in vocabulary and sentence formation. Backward counting in numbers is also helpful because it needs concentration.
2. Foods that improve concentration:
Some food choices can harm your child’s concentration level and should be avoided, for example, fatty, junk foods during learning hours, simple (white) sugars, etc.
A proper diet consists of enough protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates. Oatmeal is also suitable for concentration, as it doesn’t give children a burst of energy and then a crash – it is slowly released.
Greens like green peas, leafy green vegetables packed with antioxidants to grow brain cells, broccoli, fish (or a vegan alternative such as flaxseed or an algae supplement) which is filled with omegas, protect your child’s brain from a decline in their mental skills and enhance concentration.
They will then be more focussed and able to absorb knowledge, etc.
For breakfast, apple and linseed porridge are useful for focusing the mind; raspberries and hazelnuts could be included in the meal.
Diet is a big part of enhancing a child’s concentration because the quality of energy they get depends on what they eat.
3. Essential oils for concentration:
Yes, essential oils in an oil burner can improve concentration amongst many other things.
The best essential oils for concentration include peppermint, which is useful for preventing your child from fatigue and improving general exercise performance; there are also spearmint and sweet orange essential oils, which contain citrus Sinensis from sweet orange and menthe spicata from spearmint, which could improve performance if inhaled.
Rosemary essential oil has a stimulatory effect that affects the mood states, the autonomic nervous system, and brain wave activity.
This should be regulated to the correct amount with a mixture of other essential oils for a good learning mood and environment.
4. Make learning fun!
Making the learning experience fun also improves a child’s concentration significantly.
This could mean using unconventional means to impart knowledge. You can incorporate the child’s hobbies and things they enjoy doing in the curriculum or the learning process efficiently. Making the work schedule acceptable is one of these unconventional ways.
The use of music to learn is also another way of making the experience fun. Songs and dances can be incorporated in understanding and memorizing places, names, planets, rainbow colours, etc.
Learning should be made enjoyable so that children do feel forced or bombarded instead welcome the process. After all, it’s still a child, so what they see matters more than what they hear.
Similarly, if you have browsed this page enough then you will have recognised how much I champion the concept of Gameschooling. If not, it is exactly how it read; children learn through play!
5. Take care of all of their senses
I personally love to burn a smudge stick of some white sage. It really calms the nerves of both myself and the children.
An afternoon with some classical music or 432hz relaxation music with some sage burning… that definitely has everybody in high spirits. Sage burning has many good properties such as removing airborne bacteria, improving intuition, purifying the living space, enhancing the mood and most importantly, in this case, stress and anxiety relief.
If you are struggling to source sage smudge sticks locally, I buy them on Amazon at a good price and size – you can check this listing out here or try this batch of 12 which is also good value for money and ships worldwide.
I notice we are all more productive when I take this approach.
Likewise, on the matter of taking care of all of their senses, be mindful of the overall learning environment. I find that when there are toys everywhere or the house is messy, I cannot work efficiently or think with a clear head. It is almost as if the clutter of my environment clutters my mind.
I can see this same impact within the children so we always make a habit of tidying up before starting a new activity or task.