I can apply what I know or…
the ability to persist over time in switching back and forth between existing knowledge and information coming in from the senses to achieve an overarching goal.
Concentration is what allows a self-regulated child to stay on task over time to achieve a learning goal which has many parts. The children who can switch easily between looking, listening, remembering, considering a range of approaches and doing in the classroom are the children with strong concentration. The ability to switch back and forth between different parts of a task while keeping an overall goal in mind is vital for school success in later primary and high school years. This same pattern of switching back and forth occurs in imaginative play.
In fact, children who are at risk for concentration difficulties are easily detectable in imaginative play – they are the children who, even at kindergarten age, become very upset at another’s entry into their game. Group imaginative play, where children collaborate to make up societies or worlds, sustaining themes and storylines over long periods of time, switching as a group between planning the play and the play itself, builds concentration skills very rapidly. Here an involved adult can help a child without fluid skills to keep up with the other children in switching back and forth between existing game knowledge and the work of adapting to the new ideas being generated by the game – summarising, recapitulating and asking questions to clarify understanding - and build the concentration skills to cope with high school in the process.