Children have visible cues that show concentration. It happens at school and at play; take a peek!
|Iris, age 2|
Signs like a tongue out, rocking, stillness, even a quickly moving leg can tell us that the child is focusing. It’s important to know what it looks like when your child or student is concentrating. Through recognizing this, we become aware of this vital learning skill for each individual. Once we learn the ways in which each child finds concentration, it is the adult's job to aid and protect it.
Here are some simple ways to aid concentration in children:
- Don’t interrupt. A wise woman once told me; do not interrupt the focusing child unless you observe disrespect, danger, or destruction. I always run over that checklist in my head before engaging concentrating child. It can be a challenge for little ones to return to focus.
- Set the stage. Clear the clutter and prepare the environment. Children can have a hard time focusing if there are too many distractions. Get low and imagine how it feels to a child. Remove the unnecessary. Be sure the work or activity is complete, and that all parts needed are nearby. For Montessori work, most is kept on a tray where all needed materials are right in front of the child.
- Be aware of your influence. In the most valuable concentration experiences, the child’s motivation comes from within. Hovering or over-correcting can make the child feel less capable, or nervous about performance. As parents and teachers, it’s important that the child’s process be about their needs, not our external expectations.
- Only help the child when it is absolutely necessary. Dr. Montessori said, “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” If you jump in to the rescue to quickly, the child misses the opportunity to concentrate and complete the task. Waiting and observing the child instead of helping can ensure that he/she gets the chance to succeed. Standing back pays off, anyone who hears a child explain, “I did it!” knows the value and joy that comes with independence.
- Follow their interests. If you see a child concentrate on a task, be sure to provide the opportunity it again. The repetition helps the child concentrate, gain skills and satisfaction. And for us, we are still squeezing juice.
Originally posted in 2011, edited in 2015