7 Tips to Improve Memory and Focus Skills in Kids

Memory and attention or two incredibly important skills for learning, and students who suffer from a lack of Focus and unwieldy memory face many more setbacks than their normally-developing peers. Classroom success means students must be able to begin a task without procrastination, recall and use relevant information as they complete it, and maintain their attention and effort until the task is complete.

In today’s digital world, kids can sometimes find it hard to pay attention in the midst of all the digital distractions. However, there are a variety of activities and tools which parents can implement to mitigate such concerns, and which even leverage technology in a way that helps support your child’s learning with ways to boost concentration and memory.

Tips to Improve Memory and Focus Skills in Kids:

1.) Find the best places to sit and study. Physical comfort can play an important role in an individual’s capacity to sustain attention. When it comes to studying, sitting at a desk on a hard chair with a lamp may not be the most comfortable setting. Some children do best sitting on their beds, others while laying on the floor. Encourage standing, stretching, sitting on bar stools or other elevated chairs if this can help your child concentrate. While this technique may not increase test scores, it is likely to increase the amount of time that your child can tune into work effectively.

2.) Take active breaks. Stretching and breathing techniques can help increase your child’s focus. Take a five or ten minute exercise break that includes anything from doing jumping -jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, or taking the dog for a walk. While at first you should determine your child’s breaks, your long-term goal is to allow your child to determine his own break needs. Your child should be able t demonstrate that he is using the break responsibly by returning to work focused and productive.

3.) Intend to exercise. It is not only important that adults understand how regular vigorous exercise improves learning and attention, but for children to recognize this on their own. Work hard to engage your child to engage in vigorous physical exercise, and then help him to step back and see the impact of his exercise on his attention span and learning. Emerging neuroscience research indicates that children can pay attention better and for longer periods of time after vigorous physical exercise. You may wish to encourage your child to engage in physical exercise prior to doing homework or studying for a test. Help your child chart, or at least, monitor the impact of vigorous exercise on his academic attention and performance. Spacing out exercise during the day is an effective method to help improve your child’s attention capabilities. It might be helpful to get your child to exercise for 30 minutes  before school in the morning by using an exercise bike or treadmill.

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4.) Don’t try to do too much. Make an accurate assessment of your child’s ability to sustain the necessary level of Focus and effort for a particular task. Identify tasks that your child already displays the capacity to complete, and then gradually add additional or more complex components to that task. For example, a child who may be able to help put the clean silverware away can earn the responsibility of putting the dishes away as well. Similarly, assembling a toy or piece of furniture requiring the use of hand tools could give your child experience in using the same tools in other settings. Ask your child to describe his capacities for using tools or other specific skills to bolster the self-confidence required to persist and complete tasks. Engage him in a discussion about things that he can do now (such as math, sports, and self-care) that he could not do one or two years ago. Point out how Focus, and sustained effort were required for these improvements.

5.) Make remembering easier. Don’t give yourself a chance to forget. Procrastination leads to forgetfulness. Although it is not possible to remember everything, there are things you can do to help your child with recall. This could include putting your child’s backpack by the door in the evening so that she remembers it for school in the morning or putting her clothes for tomorrow on the floor next to her bed. Attempt to develop other methods to make it easier to remember daily activities. This might include the use of brainstorming a list of daily strategies that might help your child to remember activities. Designating a drawer in the kitchen for your child’s papers, lunch money, and other school materials, as well as using a cell phone as a calendar.

6.) Workout the brain. There is compelling scientific evidence that cognitive workouts can improve memory skills in the same way that physical workouts can improve strength and flexibility. Give your child increasing levels of complex instructions. Once she has mastered one level of instruction (for example, she is able to perform two tasks at a time), start giving instructions that require three tasks at a time. Practice these skills through working on memory challenges together such as performing mental mathematical operations and manipulating mathematical facts. You can practice this type of exercise with your child in the car by doing something as simple as counting the number of red and blue cars that each of you see within a minute.

7.) Embrace technology. The app stores are filled with numerous useful tools for bolstering Focus and Working Memory skills in kids. To-do list and reminder apps help kids keep track of their schedule and duties, while note-taking apps help them revisit important information should they need a refresher. There are also web-based applications like Cogmed Working Memory Training — which has been demonstrated to yield tangible improvements to memory capacity — and interactive learning services like BrainPop and MimioReading which can help hold kids attention while they study.

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3 thoughts on “7 Tips to Improve Memory and Focus Skills in Kids

  1. I love that you mentioned monitoring the impact of vigorous exercise on your child’s attention and performance. My older sister is looking to find memory strengthening tools for her son so be can perform even better in school. I’ll be sure to talk to her about finding a professional who can help him monitor his progress and performance.

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