In a time and when there seem to be so many distractors readily available to divert the focus of a child’s attention, what can you do to help increase your child’s attention span? The task may seem daunting at first.
Technology is so pervasive, it seeps into every part of a child’s day-to-day. Smartphones, tablets, computers, big screen TV’s…all provide ample opportunities to sap your child’s concentration skills.
Overstimulation from increased exposure to screen time riddled with quick-cuts and fast-paced storytelling can negatively impact your child’s ability to sustain focus in stimulus-rich environments.
Not to mention the variety of other external environmental factors that may be detrimental to the development of focused attention skills. Maybe a task is too hard, or your child needs a break.
Perhaps they’re still hungry and need a snack, or there’s something more fun they could be doing in the other room. Who wouldn’t rather be playing dress up or racing a new set of toy cars than sitting still and practicing writing the alphabet?
On top of all that, you want to ensure your child will be capable of handling the academic pressures that are sure to come in the future, so you want them to start now in developing good habits to increase attention span.
It also wouldn’t hurt to see your child increase their attention span sooner rather than later—this would certainly give you a break from having to do so much multitasking!
Fear not: there is a myriad of things you can do now to not only help increase your child’s attention span today, but also ensure that they build good habits for the future when they’ll be challenged to maintain focus in unpredictable and often distraction-filled environments.
Here are 4 ways to help increase your child’s attention span:
1. GIVE 'EM A BREAK!
According to experts, children around the ages of 4 to 5 should be capable of maintaining focus on a stimulating task for two- to five-times their current age. That comes out to a maximum of 25 minutes at a time that a young child is expected to be capable of staying focused on a single task!
That’s not very long, and if we expect or demand them to do more than they’re developmentally capable of, that’s just a recipe for conflict.
You can foster good habits and positive associations with focused work by allowing for ample break times during the completion of a task and between new tasks.
Research shows that short, regular breaks can significantly improve a child’s concentration skills. And don’t be afraid to use the prospect of a break as a way to motivate your child to remain focused now so that they can reap the benefits of the break later.
2. PROVIDE A HEALTHY SNACK & A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP.
It goes without saying that a healthy lifestyle is a key component to helping your child develop and improve essentially any important skill—and increasing attention span is no exception.
Experts note that hunger and sleepiness can easily fatigue a young child, and these can readily create a frustrating distraction.
This can be fairly easy to curtail, though: make sure a healthy snack is always readily available. It’s never a bad idea to ask if your child needs a snack, and of course this will provide the perfect opportunity for one of those much-needed breaks!
And of course, a good night’s rest can make all the difference. Make sure your child is sleeping well and getting the recommended hours of sleep each night if you hope to see them sustain focus on any activities the following day.
3. MAKE ACTIVITIES CREATIVE & ENGAGING.
It’s not enough to expect a child to simply sit and practice writing the alphabet or their name. The best way to encourage focused attention and concentration on a task is to make a task or activity fun, creative, and engaging!
The more interactive, the better. A child is more likely to remain engaged in a task if it involves them doing something that is fun and physical. Want them to practice writing their As, Bs, and Cs? Have them do it with paint on an easel, or let them spell out each letter using macaroni or toy cars!
If the educational task involves a physical activity or stimulating objects, a child is more likely to remain focused on the task at hand.
More than one study has shown that physical activity supports cognitive function and development, and further research has shown that concentration skills are significantly improved when children exercise before engaging in tasks that require sustained focus.
So whether it’s during a break or before beginning practice on those A-B-Cs, make sure your child has an opportunity to get plenty of physical exercise!
In the context of virtual and screen-based learning, it’s especially important to provide ample breaks and plenty of on-your-feet physical activity for your child.
Limiting screen time will certainly help increase your child’s attention span, so make sure that you’re providing screen breaks between learning sessions while your child is actively engaged in the Daily Learning Program or a Live Online Class!
Summary on How to Increase Your Child’s Attention Span…
1. Give ‘Em A Break!
2. Provide a Healthy Snack & a Good Night’s Sleep.
3. Make Activities Creative & Engaging.