With bright children you're probably familiar with the periodic "What on earth were they thinking?" moment. Our bright children have brains running at full gear and they can take them off on tangents. They can miss the forest for the trees (and vice versa).
It's great to go through life full of ideas and opportunities. It's also important to know when it's necessary to focus on the details and to have the ability to master ones attention to do this. In these highly competitive times being able to focus on the details in a test for an hour can make the difference between being accepted into the gifted program or the college of your choice and not.
The popular way to respond to this is to practice test taking. With bright children this can be counter productive. If your child already knows most of the answers expecting them to practice and practice on similar questions can bore them. Instead think of other ways to challenge them to see the details and teach them how to slow down and analyze what is required. Then when they're in a testing situation they'll be able to fall back on their skill set and pay attention when it matters.
Over our years of working with gifted children we've found three series to be standouts in improving the ability of children to focus in on the details in questions when needed.
Deductive logic is an important skill for life. Given a set of information what else do you know? In multiple choice testing deductive logic is the skill that gets you from not having a clue to deducing that even though you don't know the answer (a) and (b) clearly aren't it. Your deduction leads to a pretty significant increase in the odds of guessing correctly. The Mind Benders series serves the dual purpose of teaching children this important skill and forcing them to notice every detail. With Mind Benders the clues are dense (they're not wrapped up in a story or hidden in text). Every word matters. Many of our children are skilled at reading fast. With Mind Benders they learn the benefit of slowing down and analyzing the information they're presented with.
In the Editor-in-Chief series children read a story and identify the grammatical and factual errors. While grammar is an important skill in and of itself the beauty of these exercises is that your child can't be wrong. They're told how many errors there are to identify and if they're looking for nine and only find five they know that they need to go back over the text and try again. They're not finished yet. It's not that they're wrong - they're just not done. This series helps the child who rushes to complete to slow down and read every word and gives them a clear target. While it is most obviously a grammar book it is the improvement in paying attention and picking up details which you'll see leading to benefits in other situations.
are nothing like traditional dot-to-dot puzzles. As with Editor-in-Chief and Mind Benders there is a clear payoff to focusing and it will be obvious to the child when they've gone wrong.
Poor working memory is one reason why children may appear inattentive. Working memory for a person is like RAM for a computer. It's the information you hold in your mind "at your fingertips" as it were. With poor working memory you might have forgotten the first three digits of that phone number before you heard the last four. Your child might have to read and re-read that math problem because by the time they've got to the end they're forgotten what they're supposed to do. Recent research suggests that working on any area of memory has payoff in other areas. So, for example, working on visual memory seems to help auditory memory too. Memory Challenge is a software program which works on visual memory. The difficulty level can be adjusted so that the program is suitable for all ages. Look! Listen! Think! builds visual, auditory and cognitive skills with exercises training visual and auditory memory.