Often, when I talk about concentration in babies, I'm met with confused looks. Isn't that for older children? Or children at school? When they're working?
Therein lies the problem - we are separating work and play. For children, work IS play and play IS work. They are not separate entities.
The truth of the matter is, that actually children can concentrate, for long periods of time, at any age. Even babies.
"But my toddler is a whirlwind!" I hear you cry. "They don't sit still for 30 seconds, how do you expect me to encourage them to concentrate?"
Yep, I thought that too until I saw it for myself. Babies really CAN concentrate. I remember learning about this just a few years back, when my son was a toddler himself. As an incredibly active child, I couldn't imagine him ever sitting for long periods of time, let alone concentrating on a task.
Maria Montessori found that, in fact, newborn babies could show signs of concentration, when placed in the right environment. And that there is the key element - the environment.
No wonder our kids struggle to concentrate in today's world. There's so much going on, so many things to see, to listen to, so much colour etc. Generally, the environment just isn't set up to promote concentration.
But WHY is it so important to encourage concentration in our kids?
"The child who concentrates is immensely happy." - Maria Montessori
Children are learning these skills from birth whether we like it or not. The more opportunities they are allowed to truly concentrate, the better they'll get at it (it goes without saying) but also, the more opportunities we give our children to practise their concentration, the faster they'll master skills, creating more and more neural pathways in their brains as they do so. The 2 year old has more synapses than ever, and I believe that as parents, we have a duty to nurture that.
Here are my top 4 tips to promote concentration in your kids.
Your child can't concentrate without...
A CLEAR AND TIDY ENVIRONMENT - too many toys, items, pieces of furniture, pictures and colours can cause your child to become distracted by the sheer number of things around them
PEACE AND QUIET - too much background noise can prevent your child from concentrating really deeply on the activity they're playing with. Turn off the TV, speak in softer tones and turn down the radio.
SIMPLE, CHILD-POWERED TOYS - providing your child with simple, battery-free toys allows your child to concentrate on one thing at a time. Much more beneficial for developing minds.
TIME AND SPACE - interrupting a child when they're deep in play breaks their concentration and therefore their efforts to master the skill they're learning. Back off a bit, give space and watch the magic happen.
If you want to learn more about how to promote concentration in your kids through Montessori, come along to my workshop Intro to Montessori on 1st November 2020.