Preschoolers are very energetic by nature! At this age they learn through play and exploring their environment. They can jump from one activity to the next in the blink of an eye! As they get older, a longer attention span will help them to learn in school. Here are some tips for increasing their ability to focus:
Build up gradually.
As a general rule, your child should be able to focus for the number of minutes matching their age plus one minute. For example: if Susan is 4 years old, we would start with getting her to maintain attention for 5 minutes and then attempt to increase a minute at a time as she seems ready.
Look and Listen
Turn your everyday activities into tasks that require concentration. In the car, you might ask your child to look for words on signs that start with the first letter in their name. Or have them listen for a particular word or phrase in a song on the radio and clap each time they hear it. You can play guessing games where you give clues to help them figure out an animal you are thinking about.
Make it a Game
Work together to make up a series of movements, adding a new one on each turn. For instance, you could begin by touching your toes. Then, your yongster has to touch their toes and add another motion, like reaching up to the sky. They will need to pay close attention to remember the sequence of movements as they get longer.
Jumping jacks, climbing, running around the yard, etc. are all excellent ways to burn up the physical energy that distracts students’ brains making it virtually impossible for learning to occur. Exercise is never used as punishment, but exists as an effective tool that they can use to “jumpstart” their brains. When you are getting ready to do a focused activity, put a song on and dance out the wiggles!
Whether independently, with a sibling, or as a family, reading develops attention spans as children maintain focus to find out what happens next in the story. Imagination, vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, and writing abilities are just a few of the benefits of reading. Read a story together each night and then ask your child to recall details in the story.
Television, computers, video games, personal music systems, and the like can quickly train the brains of young children to depend on hi-tech entertainment to excite their stimulus-addicted intellect. Even learning games on the computer do not rival spending time with your child to teach them. This age is one of the fastest periods of brain development in their life so it is critical that they are using their brain to foster those neural connections. Limiting “technology time” will help encourage your child’s desire for creative play and learning rather than a dependency on technology. Three to five year olds should spend no more than an hour on technology devices a day (this includes watching televison).