Concentration

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One of the regular comments that we receive from parents when they visit is that children just don't concentrate - either at school or at home.  Sometimes the staff notice this too.  All children are now living in a world with many competing stimuli - many of which are bright and loud.  The ability to focus on one task, especially when others compete for attention, is a difficult skill.

At an individual level there may be many reasons for a lack of concentration.  These may include:

Lack of sleep Children need LOTS of sleep (see our Sleep Page).  Insufficient sleep will influence their alertness during the day and the effort that they are able to put into their work.  Agree a definite bed time and don't allow much variation from this (children will often find an activity or a 'must see' programme on the TV which finishes after the agreed bedtime).
An unbalanced diet (too much junk food, not enough fruit and vegetables) This is true for adults too.  A balanced diet influences many areas of our lives.  Many schools report that children are far more alert in the morning after a suitable breakfast but that concentration changes drastically in the afternoon after a fix of 'e' numbers at lunchtime!  Children who have a cooked school lunch or a balanced packed lunch will usually concentrate better in the afternoon lessons.
Too many stimuli There are many good and educational programmes on TV but there are a huge number that are not.  TV is a bright and slick environment contained in a box within the room.  It may be on when the children are not watching.  This gives them the message that it is OK to ignore such a stimulus and they will then do the same when adults talk to them in the 'real' world.  Try planning viewing with your children in advance.  Turn on the TV for the programme and turn it off after it finishes - make them make a conscious choice to watch a specific programme rather than watch because the TV is on.

Most TV programmes will teach your children something.  Be aware of what soap operas will teach.  These programmes aim to reflect real life but they give a very biased view of what life is.  Real life would not make very exciting TV so everything is dramatic and most interpersonal relationships are shown to be very intense - sometimes with considerable shouting and aggression.  Adults are able to differentiate the difference between real life and fiction but children are less able to do so and their behaviour patterns may be learnt from what they see.

Anxiety If a child is worried about something specific they will not concentrate as well as usual.  This is, of course, true of adults too.  We aim to ensure that they are as happy as possible in school and are always ready to listen when things are not going as well as usual - either at school or at home.
Medication Certain medications can have an influence upon concentration.  If you think that this is the case please speak to your GP.