Playing to improve concentration

Children’s attention span or ability to concentrate is constantly growing. If we compare a one-year-old and a five-year-old, it’s clear that the progression is huge. This aspect, like every aspect of childhood development, can be worked on. Children’s ability to concentrate can be stimulated through various activities. Being able to stop and pay attention to specific elements and stay focused for a certain period are simple, yet highly important factors. Read on to discover 10 activities that will help children develop their ability to concentrate.

 

  1. Blindfold a child with a scarf and give him verbal instructions he must execute. For example, you may ask him to clap his hands, spin around, stand on one leg, etc.
  2. The parrot game. Pronounce a word, a sound, or a series of two or three numbers and ask the child to repeat it/them. You may also trade roles and ask the child to say something that you must repeat.
  3. Ask children to be perfectly silent and pay attention to the sounds that are present within your daycare. Name the sounds and identify the source of each one.
  4. Clap your hands and invite children to move forward according to the rhythm (one clap=one step).
  5. Clap your hands and have children stamp a bingo marker once for every clap.
  6. Pronounce words. Have children draw a continuous line on a piece of paper until you stop speaking.
  7. Give each child an empty toilet paper roll. Let children have fun repeating the words or sounds pronounced by a child inside their cardboard tube. Give each child the chance to lead the game.
  8. Give each child a drum (plastic containers with lids work just fine). Tap a drum and ask children to reproduce each rhythm.
  9. Deposit coins in a jar. Children walk to the rhythm produced by the coins falling in the jar.
  10. Ask children to close their eyes. Make a noise (crumple paper, close a door, cough, sneeze, etc.). Have children name the sound.

You may have to adapt these activities depending on the ages of the children in your group. Gradually increase the level of difficulty. Keep in mind that the children in your group may not all have the same capacities, especially in multi-age groups.

 

Have fun!

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Working Memory

Imagine a teacher reads a word problem in math class. Kids need to be able to keep all the numbers in their head, figure out what operation to use and create a written math problem at the same time.
 
Kids with weak working memory skills have difficulty grabbing and holding on to that incoming information. This means they have less material to work with when they’re performing a task.
 
Working memory is key to learning. Having weak working memory creates obstacles to learning. But there are ways to get around these obstacles. With help from you and supports at school, your child can build up working memory skills so learning is less of a struggle.

Improve Working Memory

Notepad...Working memory is the ability to keep things in mind while performing an activity. It helps in remembering while you are in the process of learning. It involves the maintenance of information in mind so that an individual can use it for planning, learning, reasoning, and producing a result. Working memory helps to hold a thought or long-term memory in mind so you can act more efficiently in the present moment. For example, working memory might involve shutting off a television and remembering to gather one’s coat and backpack before leaving a friend’s house. Improve working memory by following our recommendations below.

Home and School Situations Requiring Working Memory

  • Taking notes in class
  • Recalling plans made or an assignment due date
  • Remembering the rules to a game or sport while playing
  • Following multi-step directions at both school and at home
  • Doing math computations in one’s head
  • Recalling answers to reading comprehension questions
  • Remembering a list of chores, items, or tasks

Hints and Strategies to Improve Working Memory

1. Simplify directions as much as possible. Your child will be more likely to recall short, simple, and direct instructions. For example, saying, “When you finish those two math worksheets, you can watch one episode of ‘Adventure Time’,” is much more direct than saying “When you finish your homework you can watch some TV.”

2. Encourage your child to seek assistance from others. Emphasize to your child that it is acceptable to ask the teacher to repeat instructions or to ask a classmate to borrow their notes. Role-play these scenarios at home so that your child will feel comfortable when the situation arises.

3. Find a mode of technology that is helpful to your child. For example, use a tape recorder to record notes or directions, or a cell-phone to program in reminders and scheduling changes. Digital picture frames can show a sequence of activities that are easily forgotten, such as eating breakfast, putting dishes away, and washing up.

4. Practice verbal memory like rehearsal, chunking, or mnemonic devices. Help your child to rehearse by whispering directions or lists to him/herself. Also, practice chunking devices that can help your child to whittle down two-step instructions to one, such as brushing her teeth and washing her face together. Mnemonic devices can be especially helpful, such as how ROY G BIV is often used to recall the colors of the rainbow in order.

5. Practice reading comprehension. Read the same material as your child and then have a brief discussion about it. This may help to increase your child’s focus and stretch their memory as an active component of working memory skills.

6. Showcase your own working memory difficulties by dramatizing your strategies to compensate for them. Many adults report difficulties with working memory in simple tasks such as remembering what they meant to do when they went into the kitchen or leaving the house and forgetting something important. Use compensatory strategies such as making notes, using Post-its, asking someone else to give a reminder, or doing something immediately when it comes to mind. Exaggerating and dramatizing your strategies for compensating your own working memory difficulties may be helpful for a child who has similar difficulties.

7. Select video games for your child that require the use of working memory skills.Brain training games, such as “Mind Quiz” and “Brain Age 2,” require the use of working memory skills and visual memory tasks. Other longer narrative games, such as “The Legend of Zelda” series, require the player to keep in mind incidents and objects from earlier in the game in order to be successful in strategies on later levels. Most importantly, try and get your child to recognize how memory skills can help in games and encourage your child to try out different strategies. These strategies can include the following: visualizing what (s)he needs to remember, over-learning math facts so that they become automatic, and repeating things out loud. These strategies may help your child in a number of memory tasks.

Games and Activities That Can Practice Working Memory

Playing board games – Most board games require players to use working memory to recall rules, remember whose turn it is, and relate the spin or roll to the appropriate move. Asking your child to help you remember what happens next in the game will even further improve this working memory activity.

Grocery shopping trip – Ask your child to help you keep track of the next three or four items you have to find. Have your child count them as you find each one.

“Memory” – This card game challenges players to match pairs of cards by turning them over two at a time while they are face down, allowing your child to practice his working memory skills.

“I packed my suitcase” Game – Players in this game have to picture and remember an increasing list of items. One child starts by saying, “I packed my suitcase and in it I put a toothbrush.” The next player repeats that phrase and then adds another item. This game can continue for as long as the players enjoy adding more items, and remember what came before what they’re about to say next.

“Big Brain Academy” – This game requires your child to keep facts in mind in order to successfully play the game.

 

Source can be found here.

Working Memory

 

Executive Functioning: Working memory

Working memory is a basic mental skill. It’s important for both learning and doing many everyday tasks. Working memory allows the brain to briefly hold new information while it’s needed in the short term. It may then help to transfer it into long-term memory.

Most kids with learning and attention issues have trouble with working memory. Working memory is an ability that allows us to work with information. It helps us learn and perform even basic tasks.

Working memory is one of the brain’s executive functions. It’s the ability to hold on to new information so we can turn around and use it in some way. Working memory allows us to hold information without losing track of what we’re doing.

Working memory is like a temporary sticky note in our brain. It holds new information in place so the brain can work with it briefly and perhaps connect it with other information. (Attention plays a big role in this process.)

The teacher may ask your child to put her snow boots away, but first hang up her coat. Your child may only do one task or forget which one she’s supposed to do first.

Your child may also find that the information she has remembered doesn’t make much sense. Because of her working memory problems, her brain didn’t package it properly in the first place. If kids learn information in a disjointed way, they have trouble using it later.

A video from Executive Function Coach Benjamin Mizrahi.
Mr Mizrahi is a coach, a learning specialist and a teacher.