5 At-Home Exercises to Help Your Child Focus
Children with special needs can find it hard to focus in school and at home. The ability to focus is like a muscle that you can’t see. The more that muscle is exercised, the better your child will be at focusing and the more it’s neglected, the harder concentrating will be. So we came up with 5 exercises you can do at home to help your child focus.
While children are taught to focus in school, there is no place like home to give your child the individual attention she needs to improve. Here are a few fun ways to practice focusing at home!
Click for more information on our Occupational Therapy Services.
1. Play “Freeze! Focus!”
If your child has a problem paying attention to instructions especially, try playing this fun game. How do you play? Tell your child that, sometime within the next minute, you’ll ask him to freeze. The anticipation can be exciting!
When he hears “freeze!” he’ll have to stop what he’s doing and stand at attention as quickly as possible. After you say “Freeze!”…say “Focus!” While you have his attention during the focus period, give him a set of verbal instructions and ask him to complete them without asking you to repeat yourself. This will help your child focus.
Examples: The instructions you give your child can be simple and fun like, “Hop on one foot, then pick up a ball, then bounce it twice.” They can also be productive like, “Make your bed.” Start with something that can be completed in just a couple of steps. Then, gradually lengthen the time and complexity of the tasks to give your child a chance to improve even further.
2. Music is Your Friend!
Music is a fantastic tool to help your child focus and remember a set of steps. You can turn almost anything your child is having problems focusing on into a song.
Examples: You can use songs for personal care tasks like shoe tying, teeth brushing, or getting dressed…or you can use songs for spelling words, math facts and other school-related information. Clap, chant, make up rhymes and make it fun!
Puzzles help build focus too! Puzzles don’t have to be tangible. They can be logic puzzles and any type of problem solving question that requires your child to think without distraction.
Example: Start easy and give small rewards to your child for figuring steps out. For instance, if your child is a beginner, try making up a logic puzzle like “If Grandma is my mom and Uncle Joe is my brother, who is Uncle Joe’s mom?”
As your child becomes more skilled, make the puzzles harder and even browse around to find puzzles for sale.
Below are examples of puzzles you can buy. Choose ones that you think match your child’s abilities or just use this list as inspiration to help you find something that’s best for your child.
- Kindergarten-level logic puzzles
- Logic puzzle books for elementary aged children and teens – from Amazon
4. Create Stories
Stories can help your son or daughter overcome challenges with routine-related focusing. Create stories about your child’s day with fun characters and names that he will enjoy. This will help your child focus.
Example: For instance, say your child has trouble focusing when getting ready in the morning. In your story, your child can be a jungle explorer, who ends up stuck in a rainstorm (i.e. the shower), rubbing his body with a magic potion that gives him powers (soap), and putting on a suit of armor (clothes) to go tame a dragon (walk the dog). Make it fun! This can help your child internalize his daily routine and help your child focus.
Turn any task that you can into a contest. Either compete with your child or let your child race the clock. When your child finishes the contest, act excited! For instance, if your child has to pick her toys up and put them into a toy bin, you could say, “Let’s see how fast you can put your toys away!”
Make up a victory dance with your kiddo, so the two of you can do the victory dance when the task is complete. If you’re naturally goofy, this might still work. If you’re a more serious parent though, your child might get a real kick out of seeing you dance around. She might be extra motivated knowing that mommy or daddy will act funny and goofy if she completes the task.
Ready, Set, Focus!
Alright, moms and dads! Now, you have some useful tools and ideas, you can be creative and have fun with them. The great thing is that, when you improve your child’s ability to focus at home, this should help improve focus in school and elsewhere. So, sing, dance, tell stories and play games to your heart’s content!