How to improve children's concentration during the school day

Sep 2012
Improving children's concentration during the school day
Parents can help to improve children's concentration during the school day

Being able to concentrate and focus for sustained periods is a skill that children will need to develop in order to make the most of their education.

School days can last for six hours or more depending on the Key Stage that children are in and the individual timetables of their school.

There are several things which parents can do to improve children's concentration during the school day, which should have the added benefit of improving their overall focus.

Start the day with a good breakfast
Before children set off for school, ensuring that they have a filling breakfast based on foods that release energy slowly could help them stay alert throughout the school day.

A review by researchers at King's College London (2009) found that having a bowl of cereal at the start of the day helps to reduce a decline in performance later in the day by more than 50%.

Dr Katrina Campbell, one of the researchers, said: "Consuming breakfast cereal reduced the deficit to attention and for some aspects of memory prevents the deficit altogether."

Putting the right resources in place
Ensuring children have the right equipment, text books and other resources to complement their studies could help to ensure that they have fewer reasons to be distracted from their work. This could include anything from mathematics equipment to dictionaries and exercise books, though some of these resources may already be in place in your child's school.

Staying hydrated
Many schools allow children to bring in bottles of water to drink throughout the day as water has been shown to improve general levels of concentration. According to Education Scotland, drinking water in school can have the following positive effects on children's ability to focus:

  • The key to boosting the capacity to learn is to keep well hydrated throughout the day

  • When we are thirsty, mental performance deteriorates by 10%

  • Pupils concentrate better because they are not distracted by the symptoms of dehydration such as thirst, tiredness and irritability

  • Can aid behaviour management by helping to settle pupils in the classroom