10 Tips on Promoting Consistent Concentration in Students
One of the biggest issues an educator faces is trying to keep all students focused on their learning. Concentration problems occur for a variety of reasons, so no one strategy is going to work with every student. Some children become bored easily, while others try hard to concentrate and yet are distracted by every sound or movement that occurs. There are as many reasons for lack of concentration as there are students. Some strategies, however, have proven to work in a variety of situations. The following ten strategies, when combined, can help keep most students on task.
Model Expected Behavior
Children are more apt to do what they see others do rather than what they are told to do. As a teacher, practice paying attention to a child when he or she talks. Give the child your undivided attention and respect them by not rushing them to finish what they are saying or interrupting them. In essence, listen to them in the way you want them to listen to you when you speak.
Connect Learning With Sports
Most children can relate to how much time and attention needs to be put into sports. Tell them about how an athlete starts out with small steps and works up to the level of skill they are seen to have. Talk to your class about how they can increase their ability to concentrate by taking small steps, just like the athlete. Let them see how easy it is to concentrate for two minutes and then next week work up to five, then ten and so forth. By adding just a little bit more time each session, you help make the task less intimidating.
Teach Refocusing Strategies
Things are bound to happen that will create a distraction. An important skill is to be able to ignore the distraction and return focus where it belongs. Teaching students techniques like deep breathing will put them in control and make them realize they have the ability to choose where their focus goes. As they become more efficient in this, they will give in less to distractions in general.
Let Them See the Progress
Children respond well when they can see the progress they have made. Create a graph or other chart that shows the progress made by either the whole class or by individual students. As they see their progress, they will get excited about future success.
Remember that each student is different and any one strategy is not going to work with all of them. Try not to become frustrated if the current strategy isn’t working with a particular child. Move onto another one and, if necessary, yet another one. In the end, you will find a strategy that will work with that particular child.
Adults often forget that a child can be very perceptive when it comes to knowing what works for them and what doesn’t. Take time every so often to discuss the situation with your class and ask for opinions of what is working. If current strategies are not working as well as they should, ask for input from the students. Trust in there insight and incorporate any logical suggestions.
Breaking It Up
Instead of expecting a child to focus on a great deal of material all at once, break your lessons down into manageable chunks. Some students may excel at being given the assignments for the entire day and told they need done by the end of class. Others will become overwhelmed and need to be given tasks one at a time, or even parts at a time. Providing breaks between sections of the tasks will help the child refresh between tasks.
There is a task management technique called the Pomodo method. What it entails is setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing on one task until the timer goes off. You then take a five minute break and then another 25 minute session. The use of timers in a classroom can work wonders. When a student knows they only have to focus for a certain period of time, they can feel a sense of relief. Knowing that there is an end, and being able to see how far away that end is, helps alleviate feeling overwhelmed.
Some classroom teachers are discovering how useful it is to add a daily meditation session to their day, for the students. Teaching children a simple meditation method will help them relax and clear their minds. This enables them to approach the next set of tasks with a fresh mind and renewed energy. Meditation is something that can be done just about anywhere and requires no special equipment so it is a skill that many students will be able to carry out of the classroom and into other areas of their lives,
Provide Positive Feedback
It is often easier to remind a child of what they are doing that requires changing than it is to tell them when they are doing something correct. By keeping in mind that what we as adults may consider “normal” behavior is often very difficult for a child. Take time to notice when your students are focusing and let them know that you not only noticed but are proud of how well they are doing. In spite of what it may seem like, the majority of children want to please the important people in their lives. Your positive feedback will encourage them to continue trying.
It can be frustrating for a teacher to try and do a good job when it appears the students aren’t interested. Keep in mind that the ability to focus is not a skill that many people come by naturally. Some find it easier than others, but it is still something that needs taught. The good news is that once the ability is learned, it is something that lasts a lifetime and can be used in just about every area of life. The time and frustration you may need to put forth will be used throughout your students’ lives.