One common problem with younger children, more specifically preschoolers, is their short attention span. With their naturally curious and unmatchable energy, it can be difficult to get them to sit in one place and finish something without getting distracted. And while this is understandable due to their young age, there are actually many different ways parents can help improve children’s concentration skills. Regular practice is also a great way to prepare your child for their school life late on. So, first, what exactly is attention span?
What is attention span?
Attention span, by definition, refers to a person’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 length of one’s attention span might vary based on their age or cognitive development. Due to this, children’s attention span tends to be shorter than that of adults.
In order for a child to focus on something completely, they have to block out all other stimuli - such as sound (the class next door making a noise), visuals (friends playing in the field) or any unnecessary information (old notes on the board).
Once children are in school, they will have to learn to concentrate on various different tasks for an extended period of time, which can be overstimulating and exhausting for some. This is why parents should help children build their attention span from an early age, as well as monitor their progress as they go. With regular practice, their skills will improve steadily, and they’ll have an easier time adjusting to their school life.
Average attention span of preschoolers at different ages
As previously mentioned, a person’s attention span varies based on their ages or cognitive development level. Typically, the re/asonable period of time a child can focus on a given task is roughly 2 - 3 minutes. Here is the average attention for children from 2 to 10 years old.
- 2 years old: four to six minutes
- 4 years old: eight to 12 minutes
- 6 years old: 12 to 18 minutes
- 8 years old: 16 to 24 minutes
- 10 years old: 20 to 30 minutes
As you can see, the average concentration span of a preschooler is usually less than 15 minutes. However, with regular practice, children will be able to concentrate for longer, and these practice activities can totally be incorporated with children’s playtime. With that being said, it’s important to remember that children develop at different rates, and should not be forced to practice if they are not ready for it.
Some activities to improve your child's attention span
The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Italian consultor Francesco Cirillo, is a method that “divides long working or study sessions into manageable blocks of time, with brief rewards or breaks built in between each session.” Since children have fairly shorter concentration than adults, make sure each session is shorter, and the activity is interesting enough to hold their attention.
Here are the steps on how to practice this technique with your child:
- First, choose a single task for them to accomplish. Remove all other distractions.
- Next, set a timer for 5 - 10 minutes and let them work on it until the timer goes off. Remember that time period should be chosen based on your child’s age and personal development.
- Then, let them take a five minute break
- After two or three of these 5 - 10 minute intervals, let them take a longer break (15 – 30 minutes) to recharge.
Research has shown that this technique improves motivation, allows for better concentration, reduces stress, and limits distractions. If your child needs to engage in a lengthy activity that requires them to keep their focus, try cutting it into smaller blocks, and insert a reward in between.
Children tend to learn a lot through play. Engaging them with fun activities will help increase their attention span while still having a good time. There are various concentration games, such as memory games, puzzles, or spotting the difference, all of which are perfect for improving your child’s focus and attention. Through these repeated play challenges, your little one will be able to focus better, and for a longer period of time.
Moreover, parents should take notice of your child’s progress, and reward them for their efforts. We all know it can be so easy to get distracted, even for adults. And your little ones are trying their best.
These story - based activities are perfect for attention - span practicing, and the kids have such a great time doing it too. You can either read your child a short story and then ask them questions about the story’s content. Or you can start a story and then ask them to continue it, giving them hints or cues along the way.
This way, children will engage more easily in the activity, and while they are focusing on the story, both their attention span and imagination will be buzzing. It will also benefit their development of logic and sense of humor.
Built-in breaks in the routine
It’s important to take breaks in between focus sessions, which can actually increase concentration power and help you destress. The same logic applies to children. After putting their full attention on a task or activity for a certain period of time, they should be given time to rest and blow off some steam. If the focus time runs too long, it’s easy for your child to feel overstimulated or overwhelmed, which can ruin all their progress. During this break time, children can play freely, have a quick snack, maybe do some drawing and coloring or even take a short nap. This will make all the difference, we promise! Your baby will come back happy and ready to take on the next challenge.