How often do we find ourselves telling our kids “pay attention” , “concentrate”, “look down in your books” and other similar things especially while they study.  We would all have noticed how kids today have smaller and smaller attention spans.  And while we may think that this is something that is just related to studies, that’s not the case either. Even when they play, go for extracurricular classes, or watch cartoons, at that time too you can notice how little time is spent on one activity before moving to something else.

“Child development experts say that, on average, a 4- or 5-year-old child should be able to stay focused on a task for two to five minutes times the year of their age. So, young kids should be able to focus between 4 and 20 minutes, possibly more, depending on the task.”

– Leslie Harris O’Hanlon on

Blame it on the screen time that they are exposed to or the instant gratification that we as parents are responsible for, and these as we know cannot be avoided completely.

So, here are some additional tips that will help improve their attention span and help concentrate better, spend longer duration on on day to day and routine activities and control their mind and thoughts.

Improving attention span for shorter duration activities

Give clear instructions

Children are not able to comprehend & remember multiple instructions or a series of long directions. So, to make it easier, give clear instructions and one at a time. For example, if you tell them something like – “ Clean up your table, put all the stationary in the box, sharpen your pencils, get your books and finish your homework” chances are that something will be missed and while following this series, something  else might catch their attention and none of the activities would get completed. So break these into single instructions, see them to completion before the next. Eventually as the children grow, and form a routine, for such activities you can progress to multiple instructions at a time.

Reduce distractions

While the children are sitting to study or even at play, ensure that their work space is clutter free. Having story books, or toys around their study tables are bound to distract them. Similarly when at play, teach them to remove one toy/ game at a time so the distractions are minimal

Set a timer

Kids are fascinated by timers or countdowns and love achieving targets. So, use this effectively especially while studying. Allow them to set their own target for completion of activities. Again, break their activities into smaller tasks, so it is fun for them to try and race the timer with achievable targets.

Follow a routine

Have a daily routine and set time for activities. This will ensure that they know that there is a fixed time for all activities, and if they have other activities to look forward to. So, there should be a fixed study time, TV time, game time, play time etc. and the same time everyday. You could also have some special activities for weekends as well as some special ones as rewards if the normal activities are completed faster.

Use visual aids

I have found visual aids to be very helpful with my kids, be it flash cards, simple sticky notes or even following a Kanban board (more on that in a separate post). But these, I find, are able to catch their attention for longer duration.  Also, they are able to grasp faster and memorize for longer

Plan for breaks

While following a routine, or during activities, plan small breaks. I do stretch breaks in between subjects, rotate wrists between pages, water breaks etc. This helps with preventing them from getting bored and they are back to the activity refreshed.

Along with following these tips, make sure

  • Your children sleep well and enough
  • Have a balance between study time and play time
  • Enough physical activities and enough time
  • Attention from the parents.

All this put together will surely help increase their attention span and concentration levels while performing tasks of shorter duration.

Coming up next : How to help improve attention span for longer duration activities 🙂


About Author

Sabeeka Lambe

I have been working in the software technology services space for over 15 years. In my professional life I help in implementing quality standards like ISO, CMMi & Six Sigma to make developers and testers jobs easier & process oriented. Through this blog I am sharing similar techniques coupled with age old wisdom from my mom and grand mom to make our living healthier and medicine free. To work in any new field, it helps if you read and train too, and I did the same. Have got a diploma in Naturopathy from Mumbai to enhance my knowledge and skills on this topic that I am passionate about

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