As the old expression quotes, “energy flows where the attention goes.” No expression was ever more accurate. No attention means no critical thinking means no progress. In the classroom, so many constructive seconds, minutes, and hours await the attentive learner. Several studies support how high levels of concentration leave a lower susceptibility to distraction. There’s only one huge in this equation — It’s hard to keep kids focused. Teachers and parents face the challenge of keeping young ones focused on what’s important every day: at dinnertime, homework time, mealtime, etc. It would all be easier if there were ways to improve one’s child’s attention span. Well, luckily, there are! In this article, we discuss how to help a child focus and pay attention.
Why Do Kids Have a Short Attention Span
Children, by nature, have a far shorter attention span than adults. Most experts agree that, on average, the attention span of a growing human being increases by about 2 minutes every year until age 18. As it turns out, there are quite a few factors that influence attentional functions (regarding age):
Firstly, there is a shift from passive to active. Babies are swayed and captivated by absolutely everything they see. As they grow, things that come into their line of sight or sense-perception become subjected to a higher degree of concentration control. They begin to choose from which things they learn from. Another factor is the ability to filter out information. Young children simply can’t filter out the information that crosses their path as well as their elders. That also means that the things that they like are harder to let go of! That’s why fascinating stories, cartoons, games, etc., can grab their attention and keep it for so long!
The last factor is unsystematic to systematic searching. This means that as kids grow, they learn to put things in order — it’s far easier to focus amidst order than random chaos. So yes, kids naturally have shorter attention spans. It’s normal for them to find it challenging to listen to long lectures. An uncleaned mess may not mean that they’re lazy or sloppy — they were probably just distracted by something else. The question is then, how to help a child focus and pay attention? Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing next.
Tips For Paying Attention in the Classroom
Here’s some of the best way to improve the attention span of children:
- Nutrition and Diet
We begin with what’s most important — proper nutrition. The body and brain operate much better with a balanced diet and sufficient sleep. Make time for your kids to get enough rest and eat healthy food every day. Make this part of a non-negotiable routine for the best results for your child.
- Take Play Breaks
Physical exercise gets blood to the brain and releases any pent-up energy. Allow at least 10 minutes every hour for playtime. For best results, take your child or class outdoors during break time.
- Encourage Listening
A great way to increase focus is to offer a prize incentive for kids who paid attention. One great way to do this is to ask questions after reading or listening to a story. This functions as a cognitive exercise for their attention span and fits into most teaching approaches already.
- Play Games
Some games like I-spy, hidden object games, puzzles, and story-based games help stretch a child’s attention muscle. These sorts of games force a child to focus on detail which they’d otherwise ignore. There is also the aspect of remembering in these games. Check out this post for more information on how to motivate kids through playfulness.
- Shorter is Better
As we mentioned before, kids (especially young kids) find long bouts of attention difficult. Try to assign tasks and activities that last for shorter intervals. Imagine that there are rounds within the activity or classroom of focused engagement and then, less focused non-attentive discussion. It even helps to inquire about a child’s work to intentionally disturb their focus and give their cognition a break.
- Remove Distractions
This one is straightforward: Remove whatever may cause a distraction from the learning environment. This includes excess clutter, unruly kids, bright or noisy technological devices, and anything else.