One of the determining factors of how well your child will adapt to school is his or her ability to focus. We all know that children’s inability to pay attention has an impact on how much they learn and how much they are able to remember.
Inattention in children also has a negative impact on the development of their social and emotional skills. It can also lead to difficulties interacting with other children and thus to trouble making and keeping friends.
A recently concluded study has found that kids with attention problems are 40 percent less likely to graduate from high school. Worse, this problem can stay with them throughout their academic career. The study evaluated the reading and math skills of 386 children over time (as early as first grade). Only a few kids had been diagnosed with ADHD.
The researchers found that children with even slight attention difficulties had significantly lower school grades after fifth grade. The study was part of the Fast Track Project whose objective is to evaluate the long-term impact of different interventions in childhood and beyond.
The findings suggest that children’s ability to focus is the strongest predictor of academic success. The researchers found, however, that early interventions that use a comprehensive approach focusing on academic skills, social skills, self-regulation skills and attention skills may help reinforce children’s attention skills.
A different study published earlier this year has come to similar conclusions. The IQ scores of 6- to 12-year-olds were assessed and their parents were asked to rate their children’s inattentiveness. The researchers carried out a follow-up study ten years later.
The results showed that inattention had a negative impact on children’s performance over time, whether or not the children had been diagnosed with ADHD. The results underscored the long-term effects of early inattention on children’s academic performance.
Both these studies highlight the need for early intervention programs to help children deal with inattention. In other words, the findings suggest that inattention can be remedied if action is taken early. There are several research-backed strategies to help children improve their focus and concentration. Here are a few things to keep in mind to tame your child’s inattentiveness.
1) Likability matters
One of the studies cited above found that although early attention skills were the greatest predictor of a child’s success in school, whether or not a child felt socially accepted by peers also had a great impact on his or her academic performance.
In other words, children with an attention problem who felt liked performed slightly better than those who had the same problem but who felt socially excluded. Peer relations can thus have an impact on student outcomes.
Being attentive to your child’s experiences – ensuring he or she has friends, organizing play dates, reinforcing communication, being attentive to bullying – can help your inattentive child’s performance.
2) There are always more ways than one to get things done.
There are many ways to encourage children to pay attention. A child may show disinterest when he’s asked to add up numbers written on a piece of paper, and yet be fully engaged when asked to add up exactly the same numbers using bricks. A child who doesn’t want to learn the alphabet by writing down letters might have to be pulled away from learning to write the alphabet in a sandbox or a container filled with sand.
Coming up with different and creative ways to do stuff can help teach your child to concentrate.
3) Use games
Many self-regulation researchers such as Megan McClelland and Shauna Tominey have shown that certain kinds of games are highly effective in teaching children focus and attention. For instance, the researchers suggest that games such as The Freeze Game or even Simon Says can go a long way in helping reduce children’s inattentiveness. Research has identified several games that can help improve kids’ focus and attention.
Even children without an attention problem have a difficult time following instructions if there’s no connection. Your child is more likely to listen attentively if you’re standing close and looking him or her in the eye. Remember that touch has a healing power.
5) Get rid of distractions
Any child would be distracted by doing homework while watching her favorite TV program. Reducing distractions can help your child with focus and concentration. Distractions may also be things like hunger and fatigue so deal with those before asking your child to take on a task that requires attention.
6) Use essential oils
Evidence suggests that essential oils have an impact on behavior. Using the right essential oils can help calm children’s anxiety and hyperactivity. Some essential oils can also help children focus. For instance, Rocky Mountain Oils has a Kid Line Collection that offers a wide range of 100% pure essential oils. One of these, “Concentrate” essential oil blend, is specifically designed to help improve children’s concentration.
7) Make him work out every day!
Although much research has not been undertaken on the impact of sports on inattention, there have been suggestions that encouraging children to work out every day, even in solo sports such as swimming, helps improve attention and has a positive impact on their well-being.
Sports help with attention because they encourage children to keep mentally focused for a specific period of time. Help your child find an appropriate activity and provide opportunities to work out – even by scheduling walks or time together outdoors every day, asking your child to rake leaves, etc.
8) Reinforce the bond with his teachers
Keeping in touch with your child’s teachers and showing them you’re interested in his education can also help your child. Talk to them about what you’ve found works at home and ask them if they would consider doing it in school. Ask if they would like you to try out some strategies they’ve found to be effective at home.
It is unlikely that a child who is disciplined for inattentiveness will get better. Moreover, the discipline methods employed – no recess, time-out, no sports – are likely to increase a child’s inattentiveness. Help his teacher explore alternative ways to enforce discipline, for example, activities that encourage your child to be active.
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