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Teaching Your Child to Pay Better Attention

A small school boy with smartphone sitting at the desk in classroom, playing.

Let’s be honest: we all struggle with staying attentive to a task every once in a while. Thanks to modern distractions such as cellphones, television, and the internet that are constantly testing our attention spans, it’s extremely easy to lose focus and get sidetracked. Albeit frustrating, getting distracted now and then won’t take away from success in daily life. 

However, when maintaining attention on a task becomes a struggle every day—possibly multiple times a day, it can eventually lead to negative consequences. Especially with your child’s education!

Poor Attention Does Not Equal ADHD

First of all, just because your child has difficulty focusing in class does not mean they have a learning disability such as ADHD or ADD. These days that seems to be the default reasoning, but in reality, kids have never learned how to focus.

Your child’s attention span plays a huge role in learning to improve attention. When you better understand how long your child can maintain focus on a task, you can customize the way they learn. A new way of learning tailored to your child’s needs can result in less frustration and improved learning that feels good again!

The Typical Attention Span for Children

Childhood development experts say that a reasonable attention span to expect of a child is two to three minutes per year of their age [source]. 

But remember, it can vary depending on the time of day and be affected by mental health and environmental factors.

Nurture The Skills

Like many study skills, paying attention needs to be practised and used regularly to improve! Here are some strategies you can implement at home to help your child improve their focus on schoolwork and other tasks in their daily life:

  • When giving directions, start by saying your child’s name to let them know you will be telling them something important. Also, make sure you are physically near your child instead of shouting from the other room and instructions are clear and concise. 
  • Break down the tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks. 
  • Teach them to keep their eyes on the teacher or whoever is speaking when in class. When the eyes wander, the brain follows. 
  • Do not multitask! Switching between different tasks creates opportunities for distraction. 
  • Repeat and emphasize the instructions you gave to your child to ensure they’ve understood. Assuming they heard you the first time isn’t beneficial for either of you. 
  • Encourage concentration games and things like word searches and crosswords instead of turning on the tv. We all focus better on FUN things, and your kids are no exception!  

We Can Help!

Our programs focus on teaching your child how to learn, including focusing on the task at hand. If you’ve tried a variety of strategies to no avail, it might be time to dig deeper. Learn more about our cognitive learning approach here or reach out to your local centre and get in touch with one of our experts! 

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