What are concentration skills?

Other than yelling “CONCENTRAAAAAAATE!” at the top of your lungs, how do you get kids aged 3–6 years old to concentrate and focus?! 

We know it sometimes feels like an uphill battle, but your little one being able to concentrate is absolutely essential to all of the learning areas.

In a nutshell, concentration skills are about being able to settle into a structured environment (such as a lesson), understand rules and maintain focus on a specific task. 

Having these skills means that little miss or mister will be able to apply themselves to what they’re learning in class while ignoring distractions like birds singing in the trees outside, a teacher helping a student nearby or their classmates cheekily talking a couple of seats behind them.

Every time your tot is distracted, they take a small detour off the path towards learning a task or developing a skill. Once they refocus, it then takes them a little bit of time to get back into the swing of things and reach the optimum level of concentration.

Therefore, teaching junior how to give their attention and bring themselves back to focus if they do get distracted will therefore have a really positive effect on their journey of learning.

As an added bonus, developing your scallywag’s ability to concentrate has the domino effect of not just priming them for being able to focus and learn in class, but also to be able to pay attention to things at home too!

Below you’ll find our tips and strategies for developing your youngster’s concentration skills. Happy reading!

You may also want to check out our page on Sensory Processing (the brain’s ability to understand and process the information the senses give it) to find out about the ‘calm alert state’.

The calm alert state is the delightful midpoint where kids have their best learning moments because they’re the most receptive – open, responsive and undistracted. There’s also quite a lot of tips that even adults will find useful!

(NB: click on the image above to watch a video for more concentration info)

What do concentration skills involve?

As a general rule of thumb, the average attention span for children is 3–5 minutes for every year of their age. For example, a 3-year-old should be able to concentrate for around 9–15 minutes and a 6-year-old should be able to focus for approximately 18–30 minutes.

Interestingly, junior’s ability to hold their attention can be easily influenced by their:

  • Motivation – how much they want to participate in a task, including how much they enjoy it
  • Sensory integration – how well they’re able to use the information their senses give them in order to complete tasks (e.g. touch or hearing)
  • Self-esteem – how confident they are in themselves and their abilities, and how likely they are to ask for help if they need it
  • Language abilities – being able to understand language, follow instructions and communicate
  • Practise – the opportunities they’ve had to be able to practise their concentration skills within both quiet and ‘busy’ environments

How do I know if my child is having difficulty with their concentration skills?

Your child may have difficulties concentrating if they struggle with any of the following:

  • Persisting with tasks from start to finish
  • Ignoring distractions (e.g. sounds)
  • Completing age appropriate tasks by themselves
  • Following instructions or remembering the steps or details of instructions
  • Sitting still and not fidgeting
  • Coping with multiple tasks (e.g. copying what’s written on the blackboard onto paper while listening to the teacher speak)
  • Adapting to change
  • Choosing relevant information from a large amount of information (e.g. finding a specific pair of socks in the sock drawer or finding the answer to a question on a page of writing)

Find out more about concentration skills

PlayBiz has put together an assortment of tips and strategies that will help you help develop little miss or mister’s concentration skills.

Under General Tips are some basic ideas for creating ideal learning environments that foster concentration. Once you’ve had a squiz at these, scroll down to Interactive and Playful Tips for some really fun and engaging ways to help hone your youngster’s ability to focus.

Don’t forget that becoming a PlayBiz member gives you access to a comprehensive library of activities that will help you help your whippersnapper develop their crucial foundation skills!

This includes 2-minute Play-a-Short videos that give you and junior a fun and entertaining ‘therapist style’ demonstration of how to develop specific foundation skills through playful activities.

There are also the 10-minute Play-a-Long combined videos that combine several foundation skills for optimum effect. Picture a fun and educational TV program like PlaySchool crossed with an occupational therapy session that’s chock full of strategies to help develop your little one’s essential foundation skills.

Ready, steady, learn!

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Ways to help develop your child's concentration skills

Some overarching tips that will help your whippersnapper focus are:

  • Reducing background noise (e.g. turning off the TV or radio when you’re at home)
  • Minimising distractions (e.g. closing the curtains so they don’t stare out the window daydreaming, facing them away from the things they find especially distracting)
  • Giving them verbal and visual cues to encourage them to focus on the task (e.g. calling their name, bending down to their height, making eye contact)
  • Repeating instructions and asking them to echo them back to you so you’re sure they understood
  • Using simple language to explain things (e.g. being clear and specific)
  • Use ‘heavy work’ activities (e.g. activities that require pushing and pulling movements) – there are a whole load of examples below under ‘Interactive and Playful Tips’
  • Keeping instructions brief or breaking them down into sub-tasks
  • Allowing for regular breaks that keep the average attention span for their age in mind (i.e. 3–5 minutes per year of age)
  • Alternating between mentally and physically challenging activities
  • Scheduling to learn 'new' or challenging tasks early in the day when they’ll be feeling their brightest and most alert (and therefore least resistant!)
  • Developing a routine that includes visual schedules (so they know and can see what’s going to happen next)
  • Using a timer so they know how long they’ll need to finish the task (e.g. an egg timer, especially a novelty one)
  • Playing ‘sequence’ or ‘organisation’ games that require sorting and arranging (e.g. card games such as Uno or Snap)
  • Using ‘desensitisation’ techniques such as gradually increasing the amount of distraction there is while they’re doing an activity (e.g. starting with no noise, then turning on white noise such as a static radio, then low-impact classical music, then music with a bit of a beat and so on)
  • Using ‘sensory motor input’ where you use many elements such as touch, hearing and movement (e.g. using big body movements to learn the patterns they’ll need to form letters)
  • Playing games that have a defined start and end point such as mazes, puzzles or joining the dots

Interactive & Playful Tips

Activities known as 'heavy work' activities are used for increasing attention. They typically involve pushing and pulling movements such as tug-o-war or climbing.

Don’t let the name ‘heavy work’ fool you though! They’re actually fun and engaging activities that you can use in various places such as at home.

Indoor Play

  • Animal walks (e.g. walking sideways like a crab on the hands and feet with stomach facing the sky, doing bunny hops by pushing the hands off the floor, lying on the belly and pulling the body across the floor using the forearms like a seal)
  • Carrying miniature bean bags on the shoulders, head and hands and increasing the speed of the walk while trying not to drop the beanbags
  • Bouncing on an exercise/fitness ball
  • Pinching, rolling, poking and pulling playdough, plasticine
  • Popping bubble wrap
  • Singing action songs such as ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ (e.g. sitting down facing each other with your feet touching and holding hands, and then ‘rowing’ by pulling each other back and forth)
  • Sipping water from a water bottle
  • Blowing bubbles with a straw in a cup of water
  • Playing ‘rough and tumble’ games (e.g. play wrestling, gentle pillow fights, falling onto cushions)
  • Dancing and jumping to music videos

Outdoor Play

  • Jumping on a trampoline
  • Animal walks (e.g. doing bunny hops by pushing the hands off the floor)
  • Playing tug-o-war games
  • Hanging and swinging games (e.g. monkey bars)
  • Digging in the sand box (wet sand) and carrying buckets of sand
  • Climbing activities on playground equipment
  • Ball games (e.g. kicking a football or soccer ball)
  • Jumping and rolling games (e.g. star jumps)
  • Blowing games (e.g. whistles, bubbles, playing the harmonica)
  • Riding a bike
  • Playing with water pistols and squirty water toys

Cooking/meal times

  • Eating crunchy foods (e.g. celery sticks, apples, dry cereal, rice crackers
  • Sucking thick liquid through a straw (e.g. thickshakes, smoothies)
  • Chewing on ice
  • Squeezing water out of sponges in the bath


  • Pushing a child-sized wheelbarrow
  • Carrying buckets of water to water the plants
  • Watering the plants with a water spray bottle
  • Digging in wet sand
  • Raking the leaves with child-sized rake

House Chores

  • Helping to mop the floors or wipe the table
  • Washing/wiping windows or mirrors
  • Helping to wash the car
  • Helping to carry shopping in from the car
  • Helping to carry the laundry basket to the clothes line


  • Wearing a backpack with a heavy drink bottle inside
  • Squishing squeaky, squeezy toys
  • Eating chewy, crunchy foods

PlayBiz Members Only Content

This content is especially for PlayBiz members. For a modest fee* you can gain exclusive access to even more foundation skill building strategies, including video demonstrations of our ‘teachable moment’ activities. Want an Access All Areas pass to a bigger, brighter future for your little one? Become a PlayBiz member today!

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Combined Videos

Combining several foundation skills, our PlayBiz Play-a-Long videos run for 10 minutes or so. We’ve carefully ordered the activities so they enable your youngster to have an optimal learning experience and develop the skills they’ll need for school by joining in the ‘teachable moments’. Picture a fun and educational TV program like PlaySchool crossed with an occupational therapy session that’s chock full of strategies. Ready, steady, learn! Please note: The Play-a-Long videos don’t need to be viewed in any particular order.