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Struggling to Increase Your Child`s Short Attention Span?13 November 2020
“Can somebody tell me how to get my child to sit in a single place for a few straight minutes?”
This or a variation of this is a very common problem faced in households brimming with the uncontrollable energy of young children. Children are generally known to be a bundle of endless energy and low on focus. Even as per developmental science, attention span increases gradually with age. The means that kids are naturally wired to have shorter attention spans.
Yes, to have a low attention span is a natural part of being a child. Let that sink in for a while and let that acceptance sweep you over. Once you accept it as a natural phenomenon you`ll feel less helpless. And that`s when you can start thinking and making use of the ways that we will share with you in this article for increasing attention span for kids.
Before that, let`s first understand what attention span actually means and what we`re dealing with here.
“Attention span refers to an individual`s ability to attend to a stimulus or object over a period of time. This ability is also known as sustained attention or vigilance.”
The above statement defines “Attention Span” quite accurately in a more clinical and precise way in Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development, 2011 Edition by Springer Link.
So why do children have a low attention span? Understanding that is quite simple actually. Many reasons come together for your child`s low attention span. They have an abundance of energy, they`ve little minds brimming with curiosity and wonder, their brains are low on information and are constantly seeking more information and processing it fast, they still haven`t made up their preferences and many more such factors related to what being a child means.
If you look at it positively, low attention span in kids is not really a problem that needs to be solved. It`s just the way children are. And understanding that opens us to many simple methods in which we can help our children build longer and better attention spans by practicing it over a period of time. And needless to say, keep calm and have some patience.
Simple ways to increase attention span for your kids
Pay attention to your child`s method of learning
We all have different methods of learning. Some of us learn better with auditory stimuli, others with visuals, for some kinaesthetics works and some learn through gamification. Some like to doodle their thoughts, some learn using flashcards. Some of us need complete silence to read, some of us read aloud and some even need loud music while reading. Hey, to each his/ her own. No judgement.
What you need to do is to pay close attention to how your child learns. Upon observation, you`ll notice some patterns for your child. You`ll be able to identify some learning methods that work really well for your child and use that to your advantage. For example, if your child loves their night time stories and remember those well, try using story-telling in some other activities too and gradually build up their attention span from there.
Catch them early, in a routine
A routine is anything but boring contrary to the popular notion. A balanced routine is good for us. It gives us structure and predictability and human beings respond well to that, rather than chaos. Making flexible and easy routines for your child from an early age will help them develop good habits and prepare them for what to expect at different times of the day. This in turn reduces anxiety and indecisiveness.
An expected routine helps children channel their energy in a bit controlled manner.
For example, here`s a sample routine for your child to take an afternoon nap followed by playing outside everyday between 4.00 - 5.00 PM and then study for the next couple of hours, dinner, some walk, bedtime story and tuck them in for a good night`s sleep, say, by 8.30 PM. This way children will come to know when to play and when to study and knowing this will make their mind wander less and help them focus better on the set activities in their daily routine.
Divide and conquer
Divide complex and long activities into smaller and manageable pieces for your children so that they stay engaged and interested for long periods of time instead of losing focus early on. Step by step steady progress on learning yields better results than overwhelming those little brains at one go. This way even if their focus wanders away from the task at hand, you can swiftly bring it back without much resistance from them.
Daag Acchhe Hain, is not just a tagline : A little play might be the answer
Learning can be fun. No, erase that. Learning should be fun. Especially if you want young children to learn, there is no better way than making it fun. There are plenty of fun games that will engage your child without boring them, while building their focus, increasing their attention span, sparking creativity and imparting problem-solving skills.
Quizzes, puzzles, board games, role plays, learning based activity boxes, experimental and hobby related activities, the list is long. Let them get their hands dirty, quite literally. And if you need help with this, The Banyan`s online program is here to help with loads of creative activities, camps and contests to keep your children entertained and engaged at the same time with expert guidance.
When your child is having fun, there is no reason for them to not pay attention. It will form positive recall associations for them about learning. Win-win for everyone.
Magic happens between the pauses - breaks and naps, may be a Promodore for your little ones
It`s alright to give frequent breaks to your little ones (and to yourself too). Breaks are necessary to revitalize us. Sleep is nature`s way to give us the necessary break so that we can heal from within. Children need more breaks than adults because of their short attention span. When their focus starts wandering, instead of forcing them to focus, it`s better to let them have a break, do something else, and start afresh after a while. It`ll keep their interest going.
Like some adults employ Promodore technique for deep work, you can also devise a customized version of this technique for your little ones, as per their requirements. Let`s say that your child can focus on a given task for about 15 minutes and after that starts becoming restless. Use that to divide the learning related activities in 15 minute slots marked with short breaks in between.
Children also need more sleep than adults and short naps during the day help them manage their energy flow. These breaks and naps can be the answer you`re looking for increasing your child`s attention span.
Get creative with your rewards
Children respond very well to rewards. Use that to build a system where the reward is also learning related but of their choice.
Let`s say that your daughter loves to solve math problems but hates learning languages. So you reward her with some time and some interesting math problems to solve after every session of language that she completes. The simple trick is to find out what learning activities your child loves and what they don`t. And then cleverly build a fun learning system gamified using both activities as task and reward.
Train that Little Brain - Developing healthy habits and environment
Ultimately, a little consistent practice and building a system and environment of healthy habits for eating and sleeping, a flexible routine, lots of play and a loving space helps train those little brains for a life of focus, attention and learning.
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