Do you wish your students could stay focused throughout the entire school day? Of course, paying attention to your lesson is a non-negotiable first step for students to learn new information.
It’s nearly impossible to be focused at all times. But thankfully, there are some things your students can do to get a boost to their concentration and, ultimately, their academic performance. In this blog, we will explore seven evidence-informed strategies that you can implement to improve your students' focus:
- Eat a nutritious breakfast every morning
- Exercise during breaks
- Channel stress more productively
- Cultivate mindfulness
- Drink water and stay hydrated
- Go outside
- Look at images of nature
It's not uncommon for students to skip breakfast. In fact, did you know that over 60% of boys and 70% of girls regularly miss out on their morning meal?
This has a negative impact on their focus levels, with research showing that students who eat breakfast, especially cereals rich in complex carbohydrates, have better concentration than those who skip it or choose energy drinks instead. This is because eating breakfast helps stabilise blood sugar levels, providing a steady source of energy throughout the morning. In turn, this promotes better focus and reduces fatigue.
Try encouraging your students to start their day with a balanced meal to ensure steady energy levels and improved focus throughout the morning – as well as seven more psychological benefits of eating breakfast.
Exercise during breaks
A study found that participants who engaged in a 45-minute workout during lunchtime performed significantly better in cognitive tasks. On days when they exercised, students experienced a 21% increase in their concentration levels. Beyond sharpening focus, exercise also works wonders for mood and stress management – both of which contribute to better focus.
Teach students to channel stress productively
It may come as a surprise, but a moderate level of stress (known as “eustress”) can actually work in your students’ favour when it comes to enhancing concentration. Researchers have found that some worry can help direct more mental energy to the task at hand, improving focus. However, it's essential to strike the right balance because excessive worry can be counterproductive, while too little may not lead to optimal focus.
In a seminal study conducted over 30 years ago, researchers discovered that when people are asked not to think about a specific subject (e.g., a white bear), they inevitably end up thinking about it. This phenomenon has been replicated in numerous studies since then.
Instead of pushing thoughts away, it’s better to actively focus on the present task. Teaching your students mindfulness techniques can help them manage their thoughts and maintain focus when needed.
Drink water and stay hydrated
Dehydration, even in mild cases, can greatly affect your students’ concentration. If they wait until they feel thirsty to drink water, their focus has likely already diminished. In addition to staying hydrated in the classroom, research suggests that drinking water during exams can improve concentration, leading to better performance. Therefore, encourage your students to drink water often during the day for better brain function.
Taking breaks in natural settings, such as parks or forests, can significantly enhance concentration compared to breaks in busy urban environments. A study found that students’ performance on monotonous tasks improved by 20% when they took breaks in natural surroundings.The reason behind this phenomenon is that natural environments replenish the brain, while urban settings demand constant alertness, further draining mental resources.
Look at images of nature
If your students can’t easily access natural environments, not to worry. Research indicates that simply looking at pictures of nature, particularly those featuring water, can provide similar benefits. According to an interesting study, these images "provide effective restoration breaks and allow [students] to return to their work cognitively refreshed."
By implementing these seven practical strategies, you can enhance your students’ concentration and set them up for academic success. Remember that consistency is key: make these practices a regular part of their day to fully reap the benefits.
And if you need some help with teaching your students how to focus in class, our Concentration Training student workshops will be perfect for you – book yours today.