Developing Concentration Skills
If your child has some difficulties with concentration,why not try these fun games with them? They can be played anywhere, from the living room to the kitchen to the car, and they’re great for long car trips. Plus, they help children learn to concentrate and focus. They may also help your child “become” smarter. Children who can concentrate better, can learn better.
This game is great for any child who can count. You count from one to ten (or one to twenty, depending on the age of the child), leaving out numbers every so often. When you leave out a number, the child should call out the number you left out. For example, you might go “One, two, three, five,” and by the time you’re saying “six”, your child should have called out “four”. (Don’t stress if your child is consistently missing numbers. If, after you’ve said “six”, the child hasn’t called “four”, playfully point out that they missed one, and start the game over. Leave out different numbers each time, of course.)
A tricky variation on this game for older children involves counting by multiples (for example, three, six, nine, twelve, etc.) and occasionally leaving out one of the multiples. Don’t be surprised if this game is almost as difficult for you as for the child. Both of you will probably mess up many times over; that’s all part of the fun. Laugh over it together, no matter which one of you messes up, and start over.
This game is great for younger kids. You call out a word (hot, light, soft, etc.) and the child gives you the opposite. With young children especially, be sure to pick concepts they know. And remember that some words will have more than one opposite. If you say “happy”, for example, the child may say “sad”, or they may say “angry”. Both choices would be right. They shouldn’t say “excited”, however.
These include perennial favourites such as:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper Picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
She sells seashells by the seashore.
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
And chuck as much as a woodchuck would
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.
Betty bought some butter,
but the butter Betty bought was bitter,
so Betty bought some better butter,
and the better butter Betty bought
was better than the bitter butter Betty bought before!
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,
Fuzzy Wuzzy lost his hair
When Fuzzy Wuzzy lost his hair
He wasn’t fuzzy,
Here are some other games and activities designed to improve your child’s concentration. Remember to eliminate as much background noise, such as music, television, etc. as possible before starting these games. Also bear in mind that it’s not possible for a child to always sustain their focus and never be distracted, so start off with shorter, easier games and make them progressively longer and harder.
- Tap a rhythmic pattern on the table top and get your child to repeat it.
- Search for a letter, or word or picture on a book or magazine – commercial books and games are available for this but it can just as easily be done at home with everyday things.
- Place some items on the table, let your child look at them for 30 seconds or so then cover them up and get your child to remember what was there. You can also take an item away and they need to look again and identify what was missing. Teach your child strategies to play this game, such as touching each item as they look at it or naming each item.
- Build patterns with blocks of different colours and shapes and then scramble them up and ask your child to repeat the sequence. This can be done with picture cards, toy animals (for little children), paper shapes, etc.
- Cut up a cartoon or comic strip and get your child to put them in the correct order. This can be done with pictures only for younger children. If the sequence they create is wrong, ask them to tell you the story as they may see the pictures differently but their story may make sense.
- Play card games, such as pairs using pictures first then number cards.
- Learn songs and rhymes.
- Get your child to close their eyes and listen to all the noises they can hear and ask them to identify the noises – you could make a noise when they have their eyes closed for them to identify.
- Read to your child daily and ask them questions about the story, either at the end or as you are reading.
- Learn tongue twisters.
- Play “Simon Says”.
- Try playing the shopping game (‘I went to the shops and bought a loaf of bread’ the next person must repeat this and add one item to the list and so on).
- Say the days of the week, months of the year, numbers or colours of the rainbow out of order and get your child to put them in the right order for you or leave out one of the words and they have to identify the missing word.
- Show your child a picture for 30 seconds and then ask them to describe it to you in as much detail as possible.
- Get them to look at a room and memorise where things are, send them away and move one object and they must come back and identify what was moved.
All of these games should be fun for you as well as for the child. Remember, keep them fun. You know that the child is learning concentration and developing important skills that will last them the rest of their life, but the child doesn’t know that, nor should they. As far as you’re concerned, this is playtime. Make the most of it.