It’s the million-dollar question: How to Improve Focus? Parents, teachers and students want to know! Focus is the ability to attend, whether or not the subject interests us. Let’s look at 7 ways to improve focus and adjust the environment too!
Move to Improve Focus
If you have to choose one method for improving focus and attention, then encourage movement! Movement improves blood flow and raises endorphin levels, helping to improve concentration indoors or out. For example, movement can be used in a classroom: allow students to sit on a therapy ball, or read while standing on a balance board. You can also take a movement break in an action room located indoors. Or step outside to run and play. Ideas for movement include riding a bike, exercising, swinging, jumping, walking, climbing, dancing, or doing your favorite sport.
Listening Reciprocates Attention
The ability to focus can be contagious. To illustrate, when we are actively listening to our children (phones put away) we teach them how to attend. This starts from the day they are born and we give them our full attention. Eye contact, empathy, response to their sounds and conversations are ways that we model good habits for focus and attention.
Improve Focus with Heavy Handwork
Mindfulness can certainly show us how to improve focus. And, combining it with heavy handwork can be the secret key to learning to attend to the task at hand. Washing dishes, baking, building or playing with putty can provide the heavy handwork necessary to focus and attend.
Improve Focus through Music
Learning to play a musical instrument is much like learning a new language but the benefits of deep breathing (wind instruments), reading music, tuning your ear and staying on task are immeasurable. Music has a way of transporting us to a different realm of concentration where the sound really pulls us along. In addition, certain types of synthesized or classical music can improve our ability to attend as well. One research study showed that listening to classical music enhanced the activity of genes involved in learning and memory.
Try a Vibrating Tool to Improve Focus
Most of us quickly notice a vibrating object such as a phone on vibration or a vibrating toy. Vibrating stimulates large nerve fibers that quickly register our attention. Therefore, you can use vibration to notify a reticent student to pay better attention and improve muscle tone as well.
Fidgeting for Focus
Though fidgeting can distract from the subject at hand, it can also be used as a tool to calm and regulate, helping to improve focus. For example, if I have to sit for along time to do homework and sitting causes anxiety and stress, having a fidget tool can release some of the stress and allow me to sit and focus for a longer period of time.
Balance and Eye Hand Coordination are Key to Focus
Stimulating the vestibular system can improve our ability to focus. Use a balance board, play on a swing, toss a ball in the air, play a game of catch, juggle scarves, or walk on a beam to challenge coordination and balance and boost brain power.
Like anything, focus takes practice. Integrate a multi-sensory approach in your curriculum and daily activities. Take short breaks, and unplug electronic devices which can dissipate focus. Create a sensory space to energize. Each time you remember to throw in a great dose of movement, you level the playing field for all kids (and adults!) to improve focus.