Stress is a major reason for preschoolers to have trouble focusing in school. Another common reason is attention disorders such as ADHD. In both cases, the child is unable to keep the desired center of attention and may easily lose interest altogether. This problem is not as pervasive in a Montessori classroom where keeping children active and engaged is at the core of the program, but it is still a problem from time to time. Keep in mind that your child does not have to have an attention disorder to become bored and restless.
Reduce External StimuliOne of the most common reasons preschoolers have trouble staying focused is because there is something else going on which seems more interesting. This is a pervasive problem in traditional classrooms because all of the students in the class are working on the same material. As children master the current lesson, there is nothing left to hold their attention and the smallest things - a butterfly on the windowsill or dogs playing just outside of the schoolyard - can consume a young child’s attention span. Keep the lessons engaging and interactive and reduce outside influence by pulling shades or closing open windows.
Develop Engaging Lesson PlansThe better a teacher's class assignments are at holding a child’s attention, the less likely they are to become sidetracked. The Montessori method is especially beneficial in this respect, as the Montessori approach to education is to allow children the freedom to choose their own activities and to keep them engaged and active. Keep in mind that children are naturally inquisitive, and use that curiosity to keep them interested in the lesson at hand.
Activity Affects Mental PerformanceRecent studies have shown that children are more alert and interested after physical activity. In traditional schools, this is being addressed by longer or more frequent recess periods. In the Montessori classroom, physical activity is a natural part of the lesson plan, and preschoolers are encouraged to move about or move to a different activity freely. Exercise is critical to keeping the brain focused, and a bored child with nothing to do will quickly begin to daydream or otherwise lose interest in the subject matter.
Sensory ToolsAlthough they were developed for children with attention deficits, sensory tools are equally useful in a preschool environment. Vibrating or buzzing devices serve to keep children grounded in the here and now, and even something as simple as an exercise ball can have a profound effect. Fidget spinners and other toys which promote quiet activity for individual students help children keep themselves occupied without distracting the entire class.
Exercise and sensory tools alone are not enough to capture and hold a preschooler’s attention. Combined with an engaging lesson plan and individual participation, these tools can be ideal for removing stress and encouraging healthy, interactive behavior. The main thing to remember is the importance of combining mental and physical activities in a way that promotes personal interest and involvement. The teachers and staff at the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus can work with you and your child to ensure they are handling stress properly while still being able to focus on their school activities throughout the day. To learn more about the Montessori method, contact us today.