What do you understand when you see this in your child’s report card?
- Does the teacher mean to say your child asks many questions, but they may not be relevant?
- Or does she mean to tell you that he talks to his friends often and is not paying enough attention in class?
- Or do you interpret it as your child may be easily distracted in class?
If your guess is any of the 3 above, your guess is as good as mine. This is because, I see this often on my children’s report card too!
In fact, my children are not alone because I read a study that claims as many as 65% of our children suffer from some form of attention or focus problem!
So when I received an invitation to attend an “Instant Focus” workshop targeted to teach parents scientifically-proven techniques to improve their children’s focus, I quickly enrolled myself for the class.
The workshop was conducted by Thinkers Box. I have heard of them because of their specialty in promoting brain development in young children. They are not your typical tuition centre as they “teach” their students the right skills to succeed beyond the classroom.
When I reached there with my daughter, we were assigned to go to different locations at their centre. My daughter was brought into a play-class with other children from other workshop participants, and the parents proceeded to a separate classroom.
At the class, Felicia, the founder of Thinkers Box, started by asking a thought-provoking question…
Do our children have the right abilities to learn effectively?
I could see some parents almost wanting to ask – what abilities?
Felicia continued by informing that parents, like you and me, instinctively want our children to have a better and easier life by giving them more opportunity to shine and do well in life. But ironically, more opportunities for our children meant more challenges for their ability to focus, concentrate and learn! Hence, our best intentions might actually become roadblocks that stop our children from doing well in school and life!
And no matter how much tuition they attend, if the child does not have the ability to learn effectively, much effort will be wasted.
To me, this is akin to trying to fill a glass that has full of holes, with water. The water, in this case knowledge, will never be retained.
So she revealed that the abilities for a child to learn effectively are actually their cognitive, or brain abilities. These are really your child’s ability to receive, process, sense-make and apply the information or knowledge that he is given.
After some explanation on the science behind cognitive abilities, the subsequent topic in workshop’s agenda became highly interactive and interesting.
Felicia explained that there are actually 27 cognitive abilities – such as Auditory Attention, Visually Tracking and Visual Observation, to train and improve in our children. A series of activities and quizzes that serve to reinforce these training were “tested” on the parents.
It was quite fun for me to actually attempt those puzzles, some of which were rather challenging. And when we were enlightened on the science behind the activities and quizzes, many, including me, were impressed!
For instance, we played a game that looked like this.
According to Felicia, this simple game will help in boosting the Visual Observation of our children. That is because this forces the child to really concentrate to find the anomaly. In real life, how this activity helps is to eliminate the child’s chance to make careless mistakes because “half-hearted” checking.
This was another example of a game that we played. The caveat is, we could not use our fingers to track, or move our heads.
Don’t think this is childish and useless! If your child plays this enough with using only his eyes, his Visual Tracking skill will improve. This gives him the ability to read without skipping lines on a page, or copy what’s written on the board with ease!
After 2 content-packed hours, I along with all the other parents in the workshop learned a lot. The techniques I uncovered could easily be applied on my children to improve their fundamental cognitive abilities so that they learn more easily. It was almost likeunlocking many new abilities that I didn’t know existed in my children.
Before Felicia ended, she revealed that the children in the play-class weren’t just being baby-sat. They were all given a series of activities and puzzles too. Throughout their class, the teachers observed each child’s cognitive abilities, and filled up a profile.
This is the profile they did on my daughter.
With Felicia’s explanation, I found out my daughter did fairly well for her age. But she also pointed out that it didn’t mean children who got lower scores were unfocused. It just meant they just needed more training, especially using the techniques that we were just taught.
When my daughter was reunited with me, she wasted no time to tell me about the fun activities that she did. She even showed off her new activity book that Thinkers Box gave to families who signed up early for their workshop. Suffice to say, that kept my daughter occupied for the subsequent few days.
Before we parted, I had a long chat with Eric, another co-founder of Thinkers Box. Throughout our conversation, I could clearly sense the passion and drive he has in helping his students in his regular courses.
Remember about the comment in your child’s report card?
“Your child is inquisitive and participates actively in class. However, he needs more focus.”
If you can relate to this, I am quite positive that with the right training to your child’s cognitive ability, not only will his focus and concentration improve in a short period of time, he will soon achieve more success even outside of school!
This article was first published in Oct 2015.