Learning cannot happen without concentration. Concentration cannot happen without interest. Whether we are learning to brush our teeth, write our name, bake a cake or solve complex algebraic equations, there is intense concentration specific to the task at hand.
Concentration is a skill that needs practice to improve and develop.
Montessori classrooms provide an environment that offers the time and opportunity to practise deep concentration. The uninterrupted work period enables the children to focus on a task for as long as they wish without an adult-imposed schedule. The adult in the environment is cautious not to interrupt and break the children’s concentration. As the ability to concentrate improves, the children also develop better self-control and self-regulation.
What can we do to nurture and protect concentration at home?
In recent times there has been a strong social message for parents to spend lots of ‘quality time’ with children. This could be because of the increased amount of time typically spent away from the home. Parents sometimes fear their children may get bored and try to compensate for the loss of quality time by providing videos, iPads and computer games that can keep children occupied. This is often counter productive as it may lead to a reduction in concentration spans.
It is important to spend meaningful time with your children interacting with them. It is just as important to offer children the opportunity for self-initiated play and the time to become bored. The best way to develop concentration is to practise it, and the best way to let children practice is to avoid interrupting when they are beginning to pay attention to something.
Here are some suggestions for you to do at home:
• Observe your child and identify what it is that holds their attention.
• Arrange the materials they use so they are accessible and organised.
• Nurture their creative endeavours.
• Resist the urge to interrupt when they are deeply concentrating. Just supervise.
• Be a good role model and show your child that you have work that needs concentration.
• Provide uninterrupted time to complete their task or activity.
• Ensure your child has opportunity to develop their gross motor skills through outdoor play.
• Work on relaxation and introduce meditation or quiet time at the end of the day.
Adapting these practices at home will support your child to develop concentration, a skill essential to success in schooling and life.
‘Concentration is a part of life. It is not the consequence of a method of education.’ Maria Montessori
Ayesha Meer – Children’s House Program Coordinator & Teacher