BE HERE AND NOW- HOW PARENTS CAN HELP IMPROVE THEIR KID’S ATTENTION SPAN AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO DO SO
How often do you catch your children drifting away in a daydream or slowly shifting to another task from the task at hand? If you find it happening often, then you sure need to know about attention span. Attention as all of us know, is our ability to focus on a task over a period of time without being distracted. Distractions are quite common and holding attention over a long period of time is difficult. With a few tips and tricks, it is possible to extend the attention. In this edition of Parent Central, we will look into why attention span is important and how as parents you can help improve your kid’s attention span.
Get your children to take the Attention Span Test to check out their attention span!
WHY INCREASE THE ATTENTION SPAN?
The attention span can be quite tricky. While we think we are paying attention, we would have already drifted off to another zone. Attention span is of importance because it ensures that whatever is learned within a zone is understood and retained. The longer your attention span, the more the information learned and remained. The attention span directly corresponds to better performance. Crystal clear understanding of what is happening within a zone simply puts an individual in a better position in terms of performance.
The attention span also works the other way. Better the attention span, less will be your learning time. As a rule of thumb, if you are completely in the moment, grappling all the information then it simply means your work is done much quicker. People with a good attention span are much more efficient when it comes to studying and working. Attention span is a powerful tool and in the right hands, it can do wonders.
FOCUS GAMES- LET'S UTILIZE THE RELAXATION TIME
There are gazillions focus game options online. Focus games are designed to improve the attention span by providing various stimulations. It is a sought of brain training that gets the brain to focus and prioritize. Our particular suggestion of focus game for you would be Dual N Back. Dual N Back provides cognitive training to its users by presenting them with a sequence test that involves audio and visual stimuli. Research suggests that Dual N Back improves working memory.
VISUAL-SPATIAL MEMORY LET'S USE THE STRENGTH OF EVOLUTION
Humans are evolutionarily designed to focus better on visual-spatial aspects. Mankind evolves to think and remember in terms of space and images. We all know kids find it much easier to think and remember in pictures. The same technique applies to improve attention span. When kids learn through images, they find it way easier to connect with them because of the evolutionary wiring of the brain. With a little effort and interest, this evolutionary inheritance can be used to your advantage.
If you want to improve your kid’s attention span, the best options we would suggest are:
SLEEP- HELPS CONDENSE MEMORY
Just like water, sleep is the solution to most of your cognitive problems. It is long been said but never practised. The best way to improve your kid’s attention span is to make sure they are getting sufficient sleep. Educate your kids about why it is important to get enough sleep. Tell them that sleeping helps condense their memory and improve their attention span. Always remember the one single rule of sleeping- Feeling sleepy? You need to go right away and sleep.
LET’S TAKE A BREAK - POMODORA METHOD
All of us are familiar with the “let me study for 45 minutes and take a 5-minute break” statement. Although it is an effective method to catch hold attention, the mechanism is a bit more complex. Holding one's attention for 45 minutes could be quite a task. Pomodora method involves holding one's attention over a period of time, taking a break and then going back to paying attention. But the process has to be more progressive.
Some of the technique you could follow is:
Begin with getting your kids to focus for 15-minutes and then take a 5 minutes break
Then extend the focus time to 30 minutes
Then again extend it to 45 minutes with a 15 minute break.
The rule is to begin slow and proceed in chunks. Feel free to experiment with your own techniques.
Step one in improving attention span is being able to channel the mental energy. Mindful meditation allows us to do exactly this. It allows us to control how we spend our mental energy. Practising meditation helps the kids clear the mind. A clear mind is like a blank canvas on which you can direct and let the art be done precisely the way you want it to be.
Some of the app suggestions for mindfulness meditation are:
LET’S GIVE 5 MINUTES FOR FANTASIES
Once while I was watching a talk show, I heard this psychiatrist talk about fantasies in teenagers. She said “you cannot separate teenagers and fantasies’. One technique she spoke about to deal with these fantasies while studying was to allocate a specific time for them in your schedule. From that day on if I spend 30 minutes on studying, I give myself the luxury of running fantasies in my head for 5 minutes after which I go back to studying, It always helped me and believe me those 5 minutes made 30 minutes of distraction-free studying possible.
“WHAT IS NEXT?” These three words are what will keep your kids going. Curiosity improves mental stamina and gives the strength to focus longer. Your kids need to be less bored with what they are doing to be able to continue doing what they are already doing. I still remember the times in 12th grade when RNA and DNA were very difficult concepts to process. So I watched the videos on Amoeba Sisters about it. Difficulty melted into curiosity. One process leads to another and then I found myself searching more and more about them. In the end, not only did I know enough to pass my exams but was left with a complete understanding of how the microcosm inside us work.
JOIN A SPORT, CULTIVATE THE HABIT OF READING AND ALSO LET’S GET OUR HANDS INTO COOKING
Sports are not only for improving team spirit but also to improve focus. Sports like football, basketball or any other sport for that matter requires you to be present. You will need focus, lock your target, pay attention and go for the win. This practice will go a long way when it comes to improving attention span. It trains your mind to zero in on what is important and stay there. Kids will benefit hugely from being part of sports and training on them. It improves their physical health, mental strength and also improves attention span.
The one big gift you can give your children is not a book but the habit of reading. Reading demands a reader to be fully present at the moment and focus on what he or she is reading. Reading can be absolute fun. But the kids will have to experience the joy of reading and practice the art. When kids learn to focus while reading, they can simply carry forward and apply the habit while studying.
Got no time to purchase books? Then you should try out the Kindle-eBooks. You get plenty of options to choose from in Kindle eBooks and you can open it in on any device at any time.
Cooking can be meditative if you let it be. While cooking, all your senses are at work. It is a sensory experience. From reading the recipe to choosing the right measures for cooking, it demands a person to pay full attention. Here are a few recipes you can start cooking with your kids: https://tasty.co/article/melissaharrison/cooking-with-kids
AN ORGANIZED SPACE FOR MORE SUSTAINED ATTENTION
According to a 2011 Princeton study, clutter tends to overwhelm the visual cortex and makes focusing difficult. A cluttered environment makes it difficult for kids to focus on studying. There are way too many distractions in a cluttered environment. The best way to handle the situation is to make studying spaces more organized. Another option would be to have separate places for studying and for all study supplies. According to the Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo, tidying can change people’s lives and can help individuals achieve their goals. To grab a copy, click here-The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. The book could be a good start to organizing your kid's study space.