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Children’s Attention Span: Tips and Workarounds You Ought to Know!

It may already be a tall order to keep a child’s attention when they actually want to pay attention — as it is known that children’s attention span is really short.

With that said, it can be nearly impossible to keep a child’s attention when they’re completely uninterested in the task you want them to focus on.

This is most evident in classroom settings, where students would play with their pencils, talk with their peers, and even look at everything in the classroom except on the task at hand.

Children’s attention span is elastic and will tend to wane as the day progresses.

If you’re a childcare educator or a parent who’s in need of tips to win the attention of their children, then you’re in the right place!

Learn more about children’s attention span and some easy tips and workarounds you can do to win them over!


I. Give Children a Reason to Pay Attention — Be Creative

classroom activity for chiildren's attention span

There are traditionally mundane and boring tasks that we let children do, yet is necessary for learning and development.

For example, writing their names on a piece of paper or writing letters in a workbook.

But while the task is necessary, how do we give children a reason to actually pay attention and do it?

A workaround? Well, instead of having your students write letters in workbooks, have them create their own ABC book or spell their names out using pictures of letters they find and cut from newspapers or magazines.

Once you have their attention with the activity, consider switching back with paper and pencil.

A little creativity (and flexibility) will go a long way to getting and keeping a child’s attention.


II. Let Children Play

outdoor playtime childrens attention span

If you keep a child stuck in a seat for more than an hour, they’re likely to explode – not to mention lose their ability to pay attention and stay focused.

Children — especially those who struggle with attention, need to have regular breaks for active playtime.

Try Incorporating indoor or outdoor playtimes, jumping jacks, or providing a quick stretching session. This will do wonders for a child’s ability to concentrate on a task and pay attention to what’s being taught.

Stimulating their mind and body with playtime before a challenging task or learning session will help any child stay engaged.


III. Eliminate Distractions

small toys cause of distraction childrens attention span

Creating the right environment promotes learning and development.

This is true for both home and classroom settings. However, it is very important to distinguish and pinpoint a balance between what contributes to the learning experience versus what distracts a child to focus and pay attention to learn.

Children are very good at finding entertainment with almost any object they get their hands on.

A paper clip can easily become a bouncy toy, a plastic bag can become a balloon, and a piece of paper can be rolled into a telescope.

At both home and at school it’s important to remove clutter and other visually enticing items from a child’s direct workspace. This gives children fewer reasons not to focus on the task at hand and improve their attention span.


IV. Break Complex Tasks Down to Bits

teacher explaining a task to her students to improve attention span

Complex tasks can quickly become too much and overwhelm children — which can cause them to lose interest and place their attention somewhere else.

Breaking a task down into smaller chunks can be an effective method for helping your child or your students pay attention long enough to learn and make academic progress.

Children who struggle with attention often complete tasks faster and more efficient when they’re broken down into smaller parts, rather than having them complete the entire task as a whole all at once.


V. Turn Tasks into a Game

teacher conducting games for childrens attention span

There isn’t much that keeps a child’s attention better than a good game. The same child that can only focus for a minute or two on math, will have no problem staying fully engaged for 15 minutes with a game they enjoy.

If possible and appropriate, try turning a task into a game. In a classroom setting, it’s most effective to create small groups of students that will play the game together, rather than with the entire class.

You can spice things up a notch by adding incentives for the winning group.

This way, children will surely be focused and engaged, all while the learning experience is shared with their peers.

You can do heaps more to increase and keep children’s attention span, you just have to be creative and always bear in mind that learning can be fun when done the right way.

If you’re an aspiring childcare educator who’s been wanting a career in early childhood education, then get qualified now with Inspire Education’s childcare courses!

Be part of the workforce that can make learning fun for children — click here to view our early childhood education course pages!

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