Plus: The importance of concentration for your child, how reading increases concentration and special Executive Function features you have to try on the Nooksy App

“Concentration is the key that opens up to the child the latent treasures within them.”

That’s a famous quote by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori (best known for the Montessori educational philosophy), who believed that… 

“The great principle which brings success to the teacher is this: as soon as concentration has begun, act as if the child does not exist.

“Naturally, one can see what they are doing with a quick glance, but without the child being aware of it.”

But that was back in the 1800s. Is concentration really as important as Montessori believed?

Why is concentration important?

Concentration is a foundational skill that is necessary for many other areas of development. Developing strong concentration skills in early childhood can definitely help children to be more successful in school. 

A 2011 study found that a child’s ability to concentrate is a key contributor to academic success.

But concentration goes beyond the classroom. Children with strong concentration skills have been shown to be better able to regulate their emotions and behaviour, which can help them to be more successful even in social situations.

In fact, another 2011 study found that children born in the 70s who exhibited the kind of self-control that comes with an ability to concentrate and focus were better off financially and physically healthier as adults years later.

And what more engaging and fun way to stimulate those concentration skills than with something children already love – stories!

Check out our collection of books about ways to deal with emotions.

5 Ways reading increases concentration in children

1. Engages the brain

Reading (and especially comprehension) requires you to concentrate and focus, as the brain must actively engage with the text to understand and process the information. This, in turn, helps teach the brain how to concentrate and focus in other areas, too.

And it's worth noting that stories are a great way to engage the brain in this way because there’s a built-in motivation – the child is interested and actually wants to know what's going to happen next. That’s so much more effective than trying to force someone (anyone!) to concentrate.

2. Develops attention span

It’s much the same with attention span. Following a book helps flex those centres of the brain that impact sustained attention, so they develop faster and you’re able to hold attention longer and longer. Learn more about how reading increases attention span.

3. Teaches how to cope with distractions 

Because reading is so engaging and immersive – if you’re reading the right kind of books, of course! – it helps a child naturally engage and focus. Again, a skill that spills over into other parts of their lives, too.

4. Enhances vocabulary and comprehension

By giving a rich source of new words, pictures and concepts, and by encouraging the child to start thinking, imagining and asking questions, reading helps them WANT to focus and understand the information.

5. Improves cognitive flexibility

An interesting one. Reading engages many different parts of the brain. There are a lot of different processes going on while reading – from visualising to making inferences, and critical analyses to understanding figurative language. 

This “jumping around” to various parts of the brain is what helps to improve a child’s cognitive flexibility – being able to shift attention and adapt the brain to different tasks and information quickly.

See how reading develops imagination.

Taking it a step further: Executive Function

In childhood development milestones, Executive Function is an important set of mental processes that govern how we plan, make decisions, focus, filter out distractions, set goals and achieve them (as you can imagine, all very important later in life).

And, according to Harvard University’s Centre on the Developing Child, the perfect way to help your child develop these skills is to provide them with a safe, loving and consistent environment to practice and develop their 1) working memory, 2) mental flexibility and 3) self-control.

Now, reading together can help you do a lot of that automatically. Here’s how:

The best part: Your Nooksy App has these functions built-in

Did you know that your Nooksy App already has advanced features that help build your child's Executive Function? It’s called Nooksy Tips.

It’s right there in the app, and was created with the help of childhood development specialists. A selection of stories (soon all of them!) have a feature that prompts you to stop and ask a question, highlights an image or gives you a little extra talking point to explore etc.

Have you tried using Nooksy Tips yet?


Explore more topics around childhood development and see how reading improves school readiness.

Also, see how reading improves listening skills.

You might also be interested in…

See how even picture books develop literacy, learn how to select books for your child and get the lowdown on how to create a fun family reading routine.

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