With so many distractions around nowadays, it's no wonder that some kids can find it difficult to pay attention.
If you're starting to think about ways you can begin preparing your preschool child for when they start school, there are lots of simple games, activities and exercises you can use to help build their attention span. From simple puzzles to easy maths activities, there are many different ways to help children learn how to focus.
Once they've mastered this important skill, it will become a lot easier for kids to learn, which will be a big help once they start school. Here at Kidadl, we've put together a list of some simple activities to help improve focus that kids are bound to love!
We might not always realise it, but the simple activity of colouring within the lines is actually a fantastic way for kids to develop their ability to focus. Not only does it help hand strength and accuracy, but taking the time to make sure they colour between the lines requires attention to detail, which in turn leads to improved ability to concentrate!
Ultra handy for getting kids started with arts and crafts, this easy activity requires concentration to cut along the lines correctly. Simply take a piece of paper or card, draw some simple lines, and ask your child to cut along as close to the line as possible. As they improve, you can make the lines more complex, and in turn improve their skills.
Matching Flashcards Game
Memory games are the perfect way to help kids learn how to retain information effectively. All you need are some simple flashcards with matching pairs. Place them all face down, and challenge your child to lift them one at a time to make pairs. The fact that they will have to remember what each card said will help develop their memory, and in turn, concentration.
This fun organisation activity will both help your child's attention skills develop, as well as learning a bit of maths along the way! Simply take a few coins, and ask your child to organise them from 1p all the way up to £1. You can also switch up this game by challenging your child to arrange the coins from smallest to largest.
This classic card game is based on reaction time, so is a really entertaining way to engage your child and encourage them to focus. To play, split a deck of cards in two. Each person, without looking at their card, puts one down, face up. Keep taking it in turns to place cards on top of each other, until there are two of the same number in a row (or suit, depending on complicated you want your game to be). The first player to shout 'Snap!' gets to pick up all the cards. The aim of the game is to collect all the cards!
The Tray Game
This is another, slightly more challenging memory game which children will love to play. Place a few objects on a tray, and allow your child to study it for thirty seconds. Then, cover the tray with a cloth and get them to recount all the objects they can remember. This game is great as is can be adapted to your child's ability, adding more or less objects as you see fit.
Which Cup? Game
Lots of fun for children and adults alike, for this game you just need three opaque cups, and a ball or other small object. Place all three cups upside down, and show your child which one has a ball inside it. Then, move the cups around and see if your child can remember which one had the ball in!
Puzzles and jigsaws are fun, rewarding, and great for learning. Encouraging children to consider how different shapes fit together improves memory, and they will get better and better each time they play.
This game is super easy to play as a family, and can carry on as long as you can remember the previous person's story. One person starts with the beginning of a story, such as 'I went to the shop and I bought a tomato'. The following person repeats the story, and adds an item: 'I went to the shop and I bought a tomato and a newspaper'. This sequence carries on until someone forgets an item! You can alter this game to be as challenging or as simple as you like.
Put those fine motor skills to the test with some snazzy pasta jewellery using dried penne pasta and thread. The act of threading something on a string aids focus and hand-eye coordination, and you are left with some super accessories! Plus, you can develop this into a craft activity by adding some paint and glitter.
This simple 'copying game' requires children to pay attention to instructions. One person is assigned to be 'Simon' and gives instructions like 'Simon says... pat your head', and the other players must do that action. However, if 'Simon' issues an instruction without saying 'Simon says' first, anyone who does the action is out!
A simple game of throw and catch gets your child to react quickly and maintain focus. It's also one of those activities you can play any time, so each time you can try and play for a little longer, to keep improving their attention span.
Having your child copy a simple line drawing or picture means they need to pay attention to detail. This activity can also be very rewarding, as they will have their very own picture to keep at the end!
Timed activities and games are great for developing concentration, and the house might even get a little tidier in the process! All you need to do is give children two minutes to tidy up all their things, and challenge them to finish before the time is up.
Cooking or preparing snacks with children is a really helpful way to show them how to effectively follow step-by-step instructions, as well as the importance of accuracy and measuring. This blog post has lots of easy recipes you can prepare with kids, with options of healthy snacks and yummy comfort food.
Tongue twisters will get kids thinking about how words and sentences are constructed. These are some easy examples to try:
'I scream, you scream, we all scream, for ice cream!'
'Red lorry, yellow lorry' (repeat as quickly as possible).
Great for hand-eye co-ordination and concentration, getting your kids some colourful building blocks is a fun way to encourage imaginative thinking, and in the process aid focus. Try challenging your child to build the tallest tower they can, or get blocks of different shapes so they can play and consider how they can all fit together.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
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