How to improve your child's concentration

My son is in second grade. His attention span is very short, and he frequently has a "dreamy" expression on his face. Is there anything I can do to help him expand his concentration skills?

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As children grow, they often show behaviors that appear to be regression or cause for concern. But in fact, these behaviors are signs of new maturity. For instance, the dreamy expression your second grader exhibits may be a sign of his newly developing ability to reason and analyze information. Nancy Richard, a child development expert who wrote a chapter for each of the books in the "How Is My -Grader Doing in School series," writes in the second grade book: "Second Graders ponder, consider and weigh things. On casual observance, this may look like idle day dreaming, but it is really thoughtful reflection, a new and powerful tool for problem solving."

In other words, what you are describing may not be a sign of a short attention span. One question to ask is: Can my child concentrate when he is doing something he loves or when he is participating in an activity that truly interests him? If the answer is yes, then you need to find ways to help him stay focussed on tasks that appeal to him less. Because seven to eight-year-olds are beginning to explore new ways of thinking, they can be easily distracted. You might try suggesting that your child work in areas where noise levels or visual distractions are reduced. Or you might search for ways to help your child become more engaged in the learning at hand. One way to do this is to make sure that he understands the purpose of a learning activity and that he feels confident in tackling it.

If on the other hand, your child never seems to engage in any activity for more than a few moments, you may want to discuss these concerns with your child's teacher and/or his pediatrician.

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