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Are there any strategies I can use to help my child concentrate better?

• Break tasks down into smaller, more manageable segments. Activities can be timed using a stop watch or egg timer for e.g. “we work for 30 minutes and then when the timer goes off, we can go and play.”

• Regular exercise – 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, ipads etc. 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 to 3 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 disorganisation, which can both impact on attention.

• Being in close physical proximity while giving clear and concise instructions helps children focus better on what is being said. Touch them on the shoulder to get their attention, be at eye-level with them and make eye-contact.

• Remember to give your child some downtime where they can relax and play. They also need the opportunity to let their minds wander and relax.