At some point, most parents will wonder how they can help their child increase their attention span and their focus. Whether they struggle with homework, paying attention to small tasks around the house, or daydream and pick grass in the outfield during sports, we live in a world where there are constant distractions and shiny objects pulling at kids’ attention. This is particularly common amongst parents with kids who are hyperactive, who often show a lack of restraint or may struggle with the ability to perform well in school.
How Playing Helps Kids Focus
Often, parents see their kids struggling to focus and wonder if the remedy could be as simple as medication to help their kids stay more mentally “in the zone.” While we’ve seen kids thrive both with and without medication to help them focus, and while we certainly don’t have the medical expertise necessary to make a recommendation for your specific circumstances, one of the most beneficial things any kid can do is to stay regularly active. Unstructured play, sports, high-energy activities like karate - all of these things give kids a place to channel their physical energy that can often show itself as a lack of focus.
Studies show that 30 minutes of exercise per day can help kids focus and manage moods, especially when placed in social settings.
Here’s why: Exercise boosts the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that carry important information from one neuron to another in the brain. When boosted, the results are stronger connections in the brain and increased rates of learning. To put it another way, the more your body works, the better your brain works.
The most naturally helpful way of getting your kids to focus more regularly is by placing them in an environment where they are around other kids, performing physical activity. In an effort to improve executive function, sports that include running and jumping help tremendously. However, skilled sports such as karate, gymnastics, skating, and swimming, are all activities that force the brain to make new connections, opens up a new level of concentration and perception, which creates a sense of well being.
Learning to Move their Bodies
These sports focus primarily on the athlete learning to “pilot their own ship,” or use their own body as the primary instrument to accomplish sport-specific tasks. Other sports, primarily team-based sports like baseball, basketball, and soccer, require an external element like a bat or ball that the athlete has to learn to manipulate at the same time they’re learning to move themselves.
While this develops a narrow skillset within that particular sport, it doesn’t translate that athletic fluency to other sports as effectively as a sport in which an athlete’s primary tool is their own body. What we do at The Dojo has been shown in hundreds of families to significantly boost a child’s innate athleticism, which not only makes them more effective in their karate classes, but also has the added benefit of setting them up for greater athletic success no matter what sport they participate in down the road.
Let’s Wrap it Up
In any event, whether your kids struggle to stay engaged at school, seem to have more energy than you know what to do with, or if you just want them to set themselves up to be as successful as possible no matter what challenges they decide to take on, it’s important to let them get out into the world and move their body.
Having fun, particularly with friends, by being up and active has benefits that go well beyond just the physical. You’ll see your child start to make stronger connections with other people, with their own body, and within their academic environment too.
So get up and break a sweat! Parents, it’ll help you too!