Concentrate?! How??

Concentrate?! How do I help my child or children in my class!

Concentration is a very broad term and has a variety of causes and effects! The mere mention of concentration when it comes to our kids has us in a flat spin. However, there is no need to fear – here is some more information on concentration and ways in which we can help our kiddies!

Concentration can be described as the ability to focus on the task at hand while ignoring distractions (Moran A, 2012). There are three different aspects of attention – namely concentration, selective perception and divided attention (performing two skills at the same time equally well). 

As a general rule of thumb we can use an attention span between 2-3 minutes per year of their age. Therefore the following can serve as a general guideline:

  • 2 years: 4-6 minutes
  • 4 years: 8-12 minutes
  • 6 years: 12-18 minutes
  • 8 years: 16-24 minutes
  • 10 years: 20-30 minutes

It is however extremely important to note that certain aspects can affect a child’s attention: sleep patterns (Batjat D, Lagarde D, 1999) , hunger and additional factors such as their sensory integration difficulties. Sensory integration plays a significant role in concentration. Children that have sensory reactivity (modulation) difficulties may find it difficult to ignore certain input. Furthermore children with sensory perception and/or praxis difficulties might find a task difficult leading to them not paying attention. 

So with that being said how can we encourage our children to pay attention to certain task:

  • Aim to keep tasks within the child’s developmental level. If a task is too difficult or too easy the child will experience difficulty paying attention. 
  • Be creative and incorporate as many sensory systems when expecting a child to concentrate. For example use your sense of touch, movement, vision and hearing. 
  • Incorporate fidgets for kids needing items to manipulate. A fidget box can be used especially when children are required to listen and sit still. The fidget box can have rules such as each child may pick one and another child is not allowed to be disturbed with this. Effective fidgets include – stress balls, stretchy toys, PopIts and more. 
  • Incorporate short breaks where the children can be encouraged to regulate according to their sensory needs. This may be to jump on a trampoline for our children who need more movement, sitting in a tent or teepee for our children needing a quiet space or perhaps receiving some deep pressure by sitting under a weighted blanket. 
  • Break instructions down. We recommend breaking each step of an instruction down by visually drawing or indicating what the child should do. You can also explain this to the child.
  • Ensure the child is sitting in the correct place in the classroom. This would be according to sensory needs. Children who are very sensitive to visual and auditory input should sit away from windows and doors. 
  • Ensure an organized workspace with limited distractions. 

An occupational therapist can assist your child in learning appropriate regulation strategies to help them to concentrate longer or to investigate causes of below average attention span. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Written by Ashley Brecher, Bright Eyes Therapy. 

For more information you are welcome to contact us on 0836161662 or email us at

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