Physical activity has been shown to sharpen focus, possibly because it can help trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that are thought to affect learning and memory. Involve your children in sports and spend weekends or afternoons outdoors where possible.
Reduce screen activities e.g. TV, TV & computer games, I pads etc. Children under 7 years of age should not be exposed to more than an hour of screen time every day (due to the fact that their brains are still developing). Rather encourage tasks that require planning or problem solving e.g. jigsaw puzzles, reading, building models from blocks or Lego etc. These require active concentration.
Reward charts can be used to motivate children to concentrate for longer periods of time. They can be given a star/ sticker each time they complete a homework task and at the end of the week can be rewarded with an outing of their choice for example.
Diet has a significant impact on attention. Try to give your child foods that are not processed and don’t have flavourants, colourants and preservatives. Limit sugar intake during the school day. Eat things like whole-grain pretzels, raw veggies dipped in fat-free dressing or hummus, yogurt, and peanut butter spread on a banana or apple.
Drink enough water -mild dehydration can lead to inattention.
Make sure that your child gets a good night sleep. Avoid doing screen activities for 2 hours before bedtime. Rather let your child have a nice warm bath and then spend time doing relaxing activities like colouring-in or reading.
Have a daily routine. This is essential for children as it helps them to have a feeling of security and predictability in their day. This in turn eases anxiety and disorganization, which can both impact on attention.
Written by Tamaryn Hunter – BSc. (Occupational Therapy – Occupational Therapist)