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Parents' evening last night - Can attention/concentration be taught?

(13 Posts)
CADS Fri 16-Oct-09 14:42:39

Hi everyone

After having parents' evening last night, I am feeling a little disappointed as I thought ds was doing well in Y1. However, his teacher has shattered my illusion.

Aparently, ds doesn't concentrate enough during discussion and instructions time and therefore, does not know what he needs to do when he has to sit down at the table to get on with his work. His teacher said that if his concentration and attention skills does not improve by christmas he may start to struggle and fall behind. She seems to think that he is able but lack of concentration is not enabling him to demonstrate his ability.

So my question is? Is it possible to teach a child to concentrate and if so how can I do this?

I have to agree with his teacher as I battle at home and always feel like he doesn't listen to me and much to my distress I have become a shouting mom. This morning I ask him to do some things: firstly, go get his book and choose his toy for golden time, 2 mins later I found him in the bathroom and he couldn't remember what I had told him to do! Secondly, he was asked to fetch his socks and get dressed, 5 mins later I had to tell him again what he had been asked to do. The scary thing is I have got so use to telling him things over and over again that I hadn't realised how bad it has got! :O

Thanks and sorry the long post

BoysAreLikeDogs Fri 16-Oct-09 14:45:28

things that you can do at home to increase his attention span:

jigsaw puzzles
board games
threading buttons/pasta tubes

that kind of thing

he is still v young, lots of time for him to mature yet, yes?

frogs Fri 16-Oct-09 14:49:38

Reduce the number of things you tell him to do at any one time, and try to reduce the overall number of orders you give. Dd2 (also Y1) is like this, and I'm careful to give her only one instruction at a time, otherwise it all falls apart.

Say it very slowly and quietly, getting right down to his level so that he's looking at you. I often get dd2 to repeat back to me what she's meant to be doing.

I also present it to her as a memory thing rather than an instruction, if that makes sense -- so I say 'can you remember what you're going to do now?' rather than endlessly telling her. That way if he forgets you can present it as a reminder rather than a confrontation.

Another trick is to say "look around and see if you can work out what you need to do next". This may need to be followed up by eg. "Look at your feet, what do you need to have on before you can go to school? Yes, you need socks and shoes. So what do you think you need to do now?" etc etc. V. dull and you do start sounding like Joyce Grenfell, but it does help them to start engaging their own brain around daily tasks, rather than let the flow of instructions wash over them.

Sympathies, while all dc are like it to an extent some are worse than others. But keeping it very calm and very simple does help.

AMumInScotland Fri 16-Oct-09 15:29:12

It sounds like he hasn't got into the habit of actually listening when given instructions. So, go down to only asking him to remember one instruction at a time to save confusion, and get him to repeat it back to you - that does help to get it into the memory. Once he seems to have got the hang of that, go back up to two things, then you can work up to longer lists from there.

Plus I agree that anything which needs him to focus his attention will help - games, jogsaws, colouring etc.

CADS Fri 16-Oct-09 19:55:51

Thank you for your posts.

Will definitely make sure that I follow your tips. Good news is ds came home with a "good listener" sticker today which shows that his teacher is working on it too.

Boysarelikedogs - love the name, something I find myself saying to friends who don't have boys.

Kelloggs36 Sat 17-Oct-09 13:11:23

Ask teacher if she can give some visual prompts for him - if he can read, list the order on the board of what needs to be done or have pictures to help. Maybe for things that need to be done every lesson eg learning intention/walt etc it can be stuck in the front of his book? Get him to repeat back what he needs to do before she sets him off (can be done on the quiet or to remind the whole class).

piscesmoon Sat 17-Oct-09 13:30:29

I agree with boysarelikedogs. Make it fun-play lots of games.

BrigitBigKnickers Sat 17-Oct-09 14:37:09

Sounds identical to the way my DD used to be. The number of times I sent her up to get some socks as we were going out in the morning and 5 mins later I would find her sitting on the bedroom floor drawing a picture and confused as to why there was steam coming out of my ears. grin

I got complaints from teachers about a lack of concentration all the way through to the end of year3. There was definitely a search party out for her in Fairy land!

This all changed in year 4 and I her teacher was surprised when I asked her about DDs concentration problems.

She achieved level 5s at the end of year 5 and is taking the 11+ in a few weeks time.

The beginning of year 1 is far far far too early to be too concerned about concentration. He's too little and he's a boy which doesn't help! Sounds like he's not quite ready for the sit down formality that comes as such a shock to many kids in year 1.

IwantGordonTHATway Sat 17-Oct-09 14:50:15

Sounds like my ds. He is very visual but finds it difficult to take in auditory instructions. Average attention span is your age plus one minute, so in Y1 about 6 minutes.

Fivesetsofschoolfees Sat 17-Oct-09 14:53:22

I think it can probably be taught, but is hard work for you. You have to be focused and consistent yourself.

I would say get rid of any 'instant gratification' diversions - computer games, console games and TV.

I agree with those who said jigsaws, beads, etc.

IwantGordonTHATway Sat 17-Oct-09 14:55:54

I don't think concentration can necessarily be taught. It depends on why concentration is a difficulty and OP's son is a bit young to establish that.

onebatmother Sat 17-Oct-09 15:11:35

Watching with interest. Any tips for 8 year olds (beyond pasta/beads) gratefully received..

piscesmoon Sat 17-Oct-09 16:47:16

You don't even need to buy games, you can play word games like 'I went to market and bought apples' and the next person says 'I went to market and bought potatoes and apples' and so on (easier to do alphabetically if they know their alphabet).
Even just games like I Spy help.

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