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How to Help a Younger Schoolchild to Do Better in Class

29.05.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“Please, help me with advice. My child is 8 years old, in the 2nd year. The schoolteacher complains, the swimming coach complains, the child is inattentive, does not remember the explanations. He can do a simple task for 2 hours, he says that he doesn’t understand the topic, can be easily distracted. How to make memory and attention in a child better?”

— Anna, Artem’s mother

The first years of study often become a real test for children and parents. A bright preschooler suddenly turns into a non-achiever. He/she can’t concentrate at the lessons, doesn’t remember what a teacher says, can’t do homework without help. Bad marks and reproaches only make the situation worse. The pupil becomes self-unsure and nervous. “How to make patience and attention in a child better?” – parents are making panic. Don’t worry! Children just need some help to develop the cognitive processes necessary for learning. How to do this – read our article.


  1. Development of attention at the age of 7-11
  2. Development of memory at the age of 7-11
  3. Development of thinking at the age of 7-11
  4. Development of imagination at the age of 7-11
  5. Tests to identify the level of development of attention, memory, thinking and imagination
  6. Reasons of problems with cognitive abilities among younger pupils
  7. How to develop cognitive processes in a child: psychologist’s advice
  8. Development of qualities necessary for study with the help of the 7Spsy behavior modification technique

Development of attention at the age of 7-11

Development of student attention

A seven-year-old child can’t concentrate if bored. A first grader needs to be interested, it is important to keep his/her primary attention as long as possible. Eventually, children get used to concentrate not only on the interesting, but also on the necessary.

While active attention just begins to develop, a pupil isn’t able to do homework without assistance and to self-control.

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Attention and its features

Attention is an ability of the mind to focus on something, without being distracted. Features of attention are closely connected to memory, thinking, perception. In order to develop the attention in a child of 7 years and older, it is significant to understand its features in different age.

  • Attentional capacity of a 7-year-old child is small – they can remember instantly not more than 3-4 figures.
  • Attention span of a first grader is approximately 7-12 minutes, that’s why long explanations don’t work. At the age of 9-10 the attention span of children becomes much higher.
  • Attentional set-shifting – in the beginning of study it is difficult for a child to switch from one activity to another.
  • Distribution of attention. During classes you have to write and explain what you write; read the completed task and check it; listen and write during dictations. Until children have mastered the skills to automatism, it is difficult for them to distribute attention between two different actions. An 8-year-old child usually already knows how to do two things at the same time. But this reduces the concentration of attention.
  • Concentration of attention is one of the biggest problems of modern children of any age. Over-indulgence of gadgets develops superficial perception, clip way of thinking, concentration of attention is reduced.

Development of memory at the age of 7-11

“My daughter goes to the second grade, she doesn’t study very well. The French tutor almost gave up on us, she says that my daughter had a bad memory and classes are useless. What should I do… how should memory be developed in a child of 8 years old?”

— Irina, mother of Lena, 8

Memory is a mental process responsible for recognizing, capturing, preserving and reproducing the gained experience.

Pupils of a primary school find it easier to remember something specific: objects, faces, facts. Their visual-figurative memory is developed much better than semantic. It is difficult for them to remember logical definitions, to highlight the main thoughts in the text.

In addition, younger pupils have more developed involuntary memory: they easily remember what causes strong emotions, what interests them. Communication with feelings is the key to remembering. Therefore, memorizing poems, songs, fairy tales is easier for a child than homework or the multiplication table.

This is confirmed by the studies of psychologists A.A. Smirnov and P.I. Zinchenko. [1]

In the process of study a child develops voluntary memorization, which requires strong-willed efforts and is necessary for successful study.

Learning to remember randomly and meaningfully.

To master meaningful memorization, teach a pupil to make a plan. How did the story begin? What happened then? What is the main thing?

When a child divides the story into parts and gives them names, he/she learns to remember not individual events, but how they are connected. It’s easier for him/her to focus on the content, remember it and retell it. Bad memory is often associated with undeveloped attention. [2]

Development of thinking at the age of 7-11

“My son studied normally until the second grade. And now there are only bad marks, tears, he doesn’t want to go to school. The teacher drew a triangle, circle and square on the blackboard and asked the son what word they can be called. He didn’t know. The teacher says that the problem was with logical thinking. Was it due to poor memory?”

— Petr, father of Sasha, 8

Thinking is the highest cognitive process of a generalized and indirect reflection of reality which develops in a person from birth.

A baby learns the world through perception and action. Growing up, he/she discovers the connection of words and objects. In early childhood visual-figurative thinking prevails.

Conceptual thinking is rapidly developed in children in elementary school.

  • At the first grade it is still closely connected with specific objects and events. Seven-year-old children hardly understand abstract concepts.
  • By the age of 8 they are already capable of generalizations and logical conclusions.
  • Third graders have fully developed abstract thinking.
The broader the scope of a child, the greater his/her vocabulary, the faster mental processes improve. In order to develop a child’s thinking, it is important to teach him/her not only to acquire knowledge, but to individually evaluate his/her work, to look for answers to questions, to think logically.

Development of imagination at the age of 7-11

development of imagination in schoolchildren

“My daughter is a liar. I don’t understand when she tells the truth, and when she fantasizes. I’m afraid it’s not a habit. Either she goes with the class on an excursion that didn’t exist, or she meets a famous singer on the street. The child is 10 years old. Is it normal?”

— Valeria, mother of Katya, 10.

Imagination is the mental process of creating an image of an object by transforming reality.

A small child jumps on a stick and imagines that it is a horse. Thus the symbolic function of the imagination develops. Some objects act as others. With the help of imagination children learn the world and at the same time protect themselves from injuries and experiences.

In primary school a child receives a lot of new knowledge, learns to apply it in life and begins to reflect reality more believably. The imagination of a younger pupil is usually a simple reproduction of the environment. The child repeats in games what he/she saw while watching adults. Gradually, children’s imagination becomes creative.

Children can invent incredible stories and often do not distinguish reality from fantasy. If a child doesn’t misrepresent the facts for some reason (fearing punishment or for self-justification), but fantasizes harmlessly, there is nothing to worry about. Pupils with a well-developed imagination easily operate with abstract images, but can deeply immerse themselves in a fantasy world and be in the clouds. It is worth paying attention to a child who doesn’t know how to fantasize. And help him/her develop imagination. [4]

Tests to identify the level of development of attention, memory, thinking and imagination

You can check the level of development of cognitive abilities of your child with the help of simple tests. Do not be upset if the result is low. Just try to teach a child more where he/she fails.

Check of attention. “Landolt’s Rings”

You can check the level of development of cognitive abilities of your child with the help of simple tests Do not be upset if the result is low Just try to teach a child more where he/she fails Check of attention

Draw a table with two types of rings – with a slot on the top and on the left. A child must cross out as many rings of the same kind as possible within 5 minutes. Elder children may be asked to cross out both types of rings in different lines. The more figures crossed out correctly, the higher the child’s attention level. This test is suitable for any age as an exercise to develop attention.

Check of memory

Make a list of 10 simple unconnected words. Slowly read the words out loud and ask a child to repeat everything that he/she remembered. Repeat reading until the child remembers all 10 words (but not more than five times). If the child remembers 4-5 words at the first time, and all words after 3-5 repetitions, there are no memory problems.

Logical Thinking Test

Choose the suitable word

1) wolf : jaws = bird 😕

a) air b) beak c) nightingale d) egg e) singing

2) library : book = forest 😕

a) birch b) tree c) branch d) log e) maple

3) bird : nest = man 😕

a) people b) worker c) chick d) house e) clever

4) school : studying = hospital 😕

a) doctor b) patient c) treatment d) institution

If there are less than half of the correct answers, you should pay attention to the development of thinking.

Imagination test: draw something

A child is offered to draw everything he/she wants for 4-5 minutes.

Pay attention to whether there is imagination, emotionality in the drawings, whether the details are carefully worked out, whether the child came up with something original. If in the allotted time the child did not draw anything specific, it is worthwhile to engage in the development of imagination. [3]

Reasons of problems with cognitive abilities among younger pupils

Attention, memory, thinking and imagination are closely related mental processes. A child is inattentive, unable to concentrate at the lesson, can’t remember the material. The lack of new knowledge inhibits the work of thinking, etc.
  1. Attention problems usually appear in children, whose development was not enough maintained. Children who are not accustomed to independence are often scattered. If a child has a decreased educational motivation, he/she will not be able to concentrate on classes. The reason for absent-mindedness may be the concentration of consciousness on something more interesting.
  2. Memory problems arise due to the lack of training in preschool age; a child does not understand what he/she is trying to learn; does not know the rational methods of memorization; the child has no interest in the outside world and in learning.
  3. Problems with thinking. Thinking needs regular exercise, like attention and memory. Mental activity becomes weak because of weak concentration, low memory, undeveloped speech. All this interferes with the development of other cognitive processes.
  4. Problems with the imagination: most likely there was some lost time for the development of imagination in infancy.

How to develop cognitive processes in a child: psychologist’s advice

development of cognitive features

To develop attention in a child of 7-8 years old, it is necessary:

  • to study regularly, without long breaks;
  • to encourage any active mental activity (generalization and comparison, formation of conclusions);
  • during the tuition to protect a pupil from all external irritants, not to make comments, not to prompt;
  • to explain the assignment clearly and concisely;
  • to play observation games.

Create together a daily routine, including homework. Teach children discipline and accuracy gradually.

Remember that attention and memory must be constantly trained.

The development of memory in a child of 7 years and older can be done in simple ways:

  • control whether a child understands what he/she is trying to learn;
  • teach him/her to divide the material for memorization into small passages;
  • remind him/her to repeat what was learned the next day;
  • advise him/her to read aloud the material to remember;
  • get him/her interested in the information to remember;
  • make sure that a pupil does not overwork.

To develop thinking of a child of 7-11 years old, it is necessary to teach:

  • to systemize and combine the objects by their specific features and purpose;
  • to understand the meaning of a book and retell it;
  • to compare items;
  • to do independent conclusions;
  • to establish causal relationships;
  • to solve problems in mind.
For the development of imagination, children first of all need close emotional communication with parents and any creative activity.

Drawing can be very useful. In addition to imagination, drawing develops memory, attention, speech and fine motor skills. Drawing, along with a game, is the main way to study the surrounding reality for a child.

Art and didactic games are ideal for the development of creative thinking and imagination. [3]

If a child has serious developmental problems, and you are not sure that you can cope on your own, you should consult a specialist. The 7Spsy behavior modification technique showed good results in working with children of 7-11 years old.

Development of qualities necessary for study with the help of the 7Spsy behavior modification technique

Does a child have problems coping with the primary school program? You must act as soon as possible, until a low self-esteem has formed and a neurosis has developed. Moreover, the gaps at the very beginning of study can cause problems in high school.

We will teach your child to enjoy his/her studies

Make for consultation WATCH VIDEO

The 7Spsy behavior modification technique is a proven, scientifically based method of behavioral psychology. The technology will help a pupil overcome self-doubt, increase motivation, develop logical thinking and other mental cognitive processes. Diagnostic testing is performed before the course. Classes are held remotely. A child can study at home, in the usual atmosphere, at any convenient time. Clear psychologist’s instructions and feedback (online chat, email or phone) make the technique available for independent study, with minimal help from parents. The duration of the behavior modification course is from 2 to 6 weeks. The 7Spsy behavior modification technique will save your child from problems in study and behavior, help love school and knowledge.


  1. Issledovaniia protsessov zapominaniia v rabotakh P. I. Zinchenko i A. A. Smirnova (https://studbooks.net/1604574/psihologiya/issledovaniya_protsessov_zapominaniya_rabotah_zinchenko_smirnova)
  2. Volkov B. S. Psikhologiia detei mladshego shkolnogo vozrasta  — M.: KNORUS, 2016.
  3. Obukhov A. S. Psikhologiia detei mladshego shkolnogo vozrasta — uchebnik i praktikum dlia bakalavrov — M.: Izdatelstvo Iurait, 2014.
  4. Gonobolin F. N. «Psikhologiia» — M.: Izdatelstvo «Prosveshchenie», 1973 g.