One of the most helpful qualities your child can have for any type of school experience is the ability to concentrate. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do at home to help your young child develop concentration.
I’m going to share some tips that work well at any time of the year. Right now, it’s summer vacation for many children, and it will be summer vacation soon for many others. Whether you want your young child to be ready for preschool (traditional or Montessori), ready for traditional school, or ready for homeschool at the end of the summer, the best quality to focus on is helping your child develop concentration.
Update: John Bowman has a great section on concentration and normalization in his Montessori at Home eBook. It includes a link to his post on the same topic at 1+1+1=1. Luckily, you can read the excerpt from his book on “Concentration and Normalization” here at Living Montessori Now! You can find out even more about how concentration and normalization fit together in my post on “What Does the Montessori Term ‘Normalization’ Mean?”
Summer is an especially nice time to focus on concentration. You generally don’t have pressing educational objectives, and it’s a perfect time to simply follow your child’s interests. If your child is interested in a topic or type of work, he or she is more likely to concentrate for long periods (and increase the ability to concentrate along the way). When that happens, you just have to be careful not to interrupt.
Here are 5 ways to help your child develop concentration:
1. Prepare a Montessori-friendly home.
Whether you’re a parent or grandparent, you’ll find ideas and links in my post on “How to Set Up a Montessori Space at Home.”
2. Give lots of opportunities for your child to do practical life activities.
Many Montessorians talk about OCCI – order, concentration, coordination, and independence. Those are qualities children develop naturally by working uninterrupted with practical life activities. Here’s a post with more about “Practical Life Activities.”
It’s your choice whether you want to prepare a number of practical life trays or just incorporate practical life activities naturally into your daily home life. If you want to prepare some activity trays or lessons, you’ll find lots of helpful ideas here: Activities – Practical Life. Check out my post with “Favorite Montessori Practical Life Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers.”
3. Follow your child’s interests.
This is important at any time, but I think it’s especially important during summer vacation. If you’d like to add educational activities during the summer, you could choose a simple Montessori-inspired unit study that follows your child’s interest at the time. You’ll find a list of my unit-study roundup posts (including some summery ones) here: “Should You Use Unit Studies?”
4. When your child is absorbed in an activity, don’t interrupt (and allow your child to repeat the activity as many times as he or she wishes).
I already mentioned not interrupting, but it’s such an important principle that I’m saying it again. Here’s a post that tells why it’s good to let your child repeat an activity over and over: “Encourage Your Child’s Sensitive Periods.”
5. Let your child spend lots of time outdoors in nature.
Maria Montessori emphasized the importance of children spending time in nature. The new movement to get kids outdoors also emphasizes the importance of kids spending time in nature. One of the symptoms of “nature-deficit disorder” is difficulty concentrating. Here’s a post with ideas for learning activities outdoors: “Montessori-Inspired Outdoor Environment.”
Do you have plans to help your child develop concentration this summer?