How to boost your child's concentration through the use of environment, tasks and sensory techniques, as well as how to enhance memory and teach constancy of shape, colour, size and number.
Concentration is the ability to focus attention on the task being performed. It requires your child to sift out the important from the unimportant. For example, he needs to learn to focus on what he is listening to or doing regardless of the cars passing in the road nearby or his own thoughts of what he is going to do after this. Here are some important steps to take to help build his concentration:
- Choose a quiet setting with calm colours and minimal distractions that draw his attention away from the task. Keep clutter to a minimum. Only present the toy you are going to play with at the time and keep others out of sight.
- For example, go for blank, rather than poster-filled walls. Turn off television or radio sound in the background.
- Make sure the room has fresh air circulating and no unpleasant odours.
Novel and exciting tasks are a must – you need a show-stopper. If the task you choose is mundane he won’t focus much. Choose something with an element he loves.
For example, if he is interested in music, you could introduce the Musical Wooden Puzzle*. This improves his knowledge base, vocabulary and thinking skills while being of interest and holding his attention
Use touch and his name to help him refocus or to ensure he is focused when you provide instructions. Use as many senses as possible while playing.
For example, demonstrate how to play, while you provide the verbal commentary and move his body through the steps of the game.
Your child’s ability to recall visual or auditory detail and features, develops with practice. Provide the opportunity to recall by first providing something to look at or listen to and discussing what you are hearing and seeing. Remove the image or the sound and recall immediately.
At first provide a long time to look or listen. With time, shorten the amount of time you provide. You can also upgrade memory skills by asking your child to recall it immediately at first, then after 5 minutes, to stimulate short-term memory. Extend this to an hour, day, week, to work on long term memory skills.
Use the Smart Early Years Learn To Count cards* for visual cues. You can show your child a card with a certain number of items, for example 2 dots. Count to 2 with him. Say, “There are how many dots? Yes, that’s right. 2.” Turn the card over and ask your child, “How many dots were on that card?”
Constancy of shape, colour, size and number is a visual perceptual ability where your child learns to identify similar characteristics of objects in order to recognise, classify or match them according to form, colour, size or number.
To develop this intellectual ability, known as basic concepts, where your child can begin to name these aspects, provide games like Smart Early Years Learn to Count*. This develops number concept. Animals – My First Sticker Book* is good to work on form constancy.
Activities like Megabloks* demand focus as the child copies and places each piece in the correct spot. This also helps your child develop his understanding of colour, shape, size and position. Your child learns the executive skill of planning. He has to think which order to place the blocks to create the image.
His visual perception, that is, the brain’s ability to interpret what the eyes see, is targeted as he has to copy the image. Handling the blocks stimulates his tactile sense and his fine motor skills, such as eye-hand coordination.
Intellect takes many forms and each child has his own learning pace. Respect this and focus on the journey and you’ll reach the destination.
Top 3 toys for your child
Smart Early Years Learn to Count (35938), 3+ years
Megabloks 40 Pieces (09435), 3 to 5 years
Musical Wooden Puzzle (08987), 3+ years
* Products available as in January 2011. If discontinued, ask your toy dealer about similar toys.