As a parent, you have probably struggled in the past to focus your child's attention. While children can be very intensely focused on one thing at a time, their attention tends to wander from activity to activity. This can prove extremely difficult when trying to convey information or when conducting education. Forcing a child to concentrate beyond their attention span can lead to fights, tears, and lots of frustration from all parties involved.
According to child development experts, children tend to be able to focus their attention for between 2-5 minutes per year of age. This means that a 3-year-old attempting to begin to learn their letters and numbers will only be capable of focusing on a task between 6 and 15 minutes at a time. While this can seem very inadequate, what's important to remember is the at-a-time aspect. That is, just because your child can only focus on practicing their letter shapes in short bursts, it doesn't make them incapable of learning throughout the day. We just need to adjust our thinking and approach to learning!
The first step is integrating learning in different ways. Approaching the same concept from multiple angles keeps the learning fresh and exciting for a young child. Are they tired of trying to trace the letter A? Let's get up and go on a letter A scavenger hunt around the house! Incorporate counting into snack time. Can you count to 10? Then that's how many grapes you get! Have a queue of short learning videos prepared on YouTube or a children's album loaded in the CD player or downloaded onto your phone. Let your child lead you in their own education. As we've discussed before, kids want to participate and be helpful, so make them feel as if they're doing a great job!
Another way to keep your child focused and improve their attention span is to learn their rhythms. First, make sure your kids are getting the recommended amount of sleep and rest so that they are fully capable of focusing without yawning or dozing off. Next, keep track of your child's energy levels. If they crash after lunch or go into a 3 p.m. mania, don't force them to sit at the desk and count. Take advantage of the quiet time to teach behavioral skills or demonstrate caring with stuffed animals they share a bed or nap area with. Dance around with your kids when they're bursting with energy. By mirroring your child in this way, you are supporting their feelings, helping them listen to their body, and making the most out of every day by taking full advantage of the times when they are calm, focused, and alert.
Lastly, once you have determined your child's rhythms and patterns, start to construct a schedule around them and begin to enforce it. It's never too early to learn to be responsible. Having a set plan for what you expect your child to do throughout the day will help you both stay focused. Communicate often, and help your kids understand more complicated concepts like planning ahead and delayed gratification. As your child ages, they will grow into being responsible and managing themselves by following your example.
Here at Best Brains, we believe in listening to our students and following their lead. Our one-concept-at-a-time curriculum is designed to maximize your child's attention span and present learning in the best way for them. Click here to learn more!