If you would like to help your child learn how to stay focussed for longer periods of time, here are some ideas.
Know Your Child
The first thing to know is that children have much shorter attention spans than adults. A child’s maximum attention span is about two to three times his age, so a five-year-old child would have an attention span of, at best, fifteen minutes.
Make sure your child is well-rested and not hungry. Also, different children focus better at different times of day – learn what time of day is your child’s best time to focus on a task.
Children thrive on routine. Build a ‘focus task’ time into their daily lives that becomes a constant part of their routine.
Think about the distractions your child is going to face. Not all are as obvious as noisy siblings.
A major distraction for young children is their own energy. If you want your child to focus on a sit-down task, like homework, first get them to do something that will burn off that energy. Kicking a ball around the garden or riding a bike for a few minutes can do wonders for a child’s focus later.
Technology is a massive distraction and can give too much stimulation for a young mind. You should follow the lead of many Silicon Valley parents and limit your children’s access to technology or ‘screen time.’
Children pay more attention to things and people closest to them. So, if you want your child to focus, be nearby.
Reading stories to your children is one of the easiest ways to help them learn to focus. Working on a puzzle or building something out of Lego is another enjoyable way to help build your child’s attention span.
You need to be aware of the difference between what you want your children to do and what they like to do. If you want your children to focus on reading, you need to learn what interests them and find books, magazines, or comics that will appeal to their interests.
Make It Easy to Succeed
When children fail, it is very discouraging, even if the failure often isn’t theirs. Children need simple instructions.
Think about how many tasks are needed to ‘wash the dishes.’ This is simple for an adult, but a child would need the steps broken down: Stack all the dirty plates and cups in the sink; Now wash each one and put it in the drying rack; finally, take a towel and dry each one.
If you want to get your children to focus on an instruction, ask them to repeat it back to you. This helps them focus.
Children love success. It is a positive emotion that makes them want to try again. Help your children find success in focussing and they will perform better in school and life.