How to Help Kids Stay Focused


Industry research has found that as many as 40% of Australian students are not engaged in learning at any time during schooling. Given the scale of this problem, the question arises: how to keep kids focused and attentive during their learning time? How to identify when kids are losing concentration? Early childhood education forms the premise for much emotional, cognitive and social development and if children are interacting with their peers and teachers in an engaged manner during this time it can contribute to additional opportunities as schooling continues.

Maintaining a State of Preparedness

Frameworks for early childhood development recognise that social situations and interactions are essential for “interactional” learning. According to the textbook, the quality of interactional learning can be evaluated by an analysis of available emotional support, classroom organisation and instructional support. The evidence demonstrates that well-organised teachers are more likely to keep kids engaged as they can facilitate the flow of one lesson to the next by being prepared before entering the classroom. A combination of open-ended and closed questions is the best way to keep children engaged with their learning, when coupled with expert information. We always use these techniques at Willow Bee Early Learning Childhood Centre to keep your kids on-track with their learning.

Children are only comfortable interacting with what they know, and can become unresponsive when overstimulated. Teachers need to build on existing knowledge structures when communicating lessons in the classroom rather than introducing new concepts with no context. By doing so, our teachers ensure that children are able to contribute to their own learning and that of their peers during the process of learning new information.

Environmental Factors

Environments that are emotionally positive are more likely to engage children. Children seek praise and become disengaged in negatively-charged emotional environments and unpredictable environments. Using positive reinforcement when a task has been completed is a great way to ensure children continue to interact within their learning environment. While it’s not always easy, be patient with little ones, especially when they’re attempting something they’ve never tried before – it will help them remain engaged and focused.

Behavioural Modification

Children imitate what they see, and have all kinds of mannerisms they use to express themselves non-verbally. Teacher interactions that fixate on behaviour tend to disengage children who are simply performing what they have seen in the home or elsewhere. Indeed, correcting children’s behaviour generally catalyses more ‘misbehaviour’ which takes away from valuable learning time. Rather than trying to correct your children’s behaviour, simply ask them what they’re doing. Most times a child will be able to explain what they’re doing and will gain confidence as you express interest in them.

All of these factors contribute to a positive learning environment enriched by teachers who are knowledgeable and who care about their students. By being prepared, creating a positively-charged emotional environment and by showing your kids we’re interested in their self-expression we help to engage them with their early childhood learning, preparing them for later stages of life.