by Gee Sany
Many children struggle or throw tantrums when asked to do something they don’t want to do. So it seems, getting them started is actually testing your creativity and flexibility as a parent and a teacher. In school, the curriculum is structured, repetitive and academic inclined. They learn to write, read and pronounce words as accurately as they can. Most of us are aware that this can be quite stressing on them.
Being kids, the first thing on their mind when returning home is, of course, PLAY. Because playing is intrinsically motivating for kids. It is very common to see our kids playing for 30 minutes but can’t sit still for even 5 minutes to write their names.
What can you do to manage this Short Attention Span?
1. Get Creative.
A little creativity can go a long way in turning something dull into something fun. Instead of sitting them down and asking them to start writing on the worksheets, let them have a chalkboard or white board. Play with playdoh and get ur child to form the letter he is learning in school. Currently, my son has his own ABC Book. I allow him to doodle on this book too. When reading, I ask him to point out the letters and at times, spell some simple words. Sometimes we use blocks to form some straight line letters. Once, I brought him to the beach and handed him a piece of twig. He was excited to write on the sand and even used his fingers! These simple activity helps improve what they have learnt in school and refine their motor skills. Take time to notice what attracts their attention the most and you can repeat the activity based on their interest. During walks, stop and point out what you think may interest them and get on to have a small conversation about it.
2. Give Attention.
Moms. We are all multi-taskers, aren’t we? I am guilty of being that multi-tasker Mom who shouts requests to her kids from the kitchen while doing the dishes. I realised it wasn’t effective. I knew I needed to change my approach. I discovered that being in close physical proximity and making eye contact while giving clear and concise instructions helps children focus better on what is being said. Once you have given them the instructions, ask them to repeat what they understand from your instructions. They are able to carry out their tasks more independently without much complaints.
3. Flexible Schedule.
If your child is mature enough, you can discuss with them what activity works best for them at what time of the day/week. When you let them feel responsible over their own life, they will focus and engage better in what they had planned to do. Keep a close watch on their schedule and give them gentle reminders to complete the tasks. On the other hand, if you have younger children, plan out their study time. Keep studying sessions short but with more frequency and have breaks in between to do something they like.
4. Limit Gadget Time.
In this current era, it is impossible not expose kids to gadgets. However, one of the main cause of very short attention span is the prolonged usage of gadgets such as ipads and mobile phone from a very young age. Too much exposure on the ‘virtual world’ with vibrant graphic colours and visuals will cause them to lose interest in our monochrome real world as it is visually less interesting. Some of the kids lose interest the moment they open up a dull black and white coloured textbook.
5. Minimise Usage of Mobile Phones.
The last tip applies to us, parents. I am one guilty parent, too. Recent studies shows that extended usage of mobile phones in the presence of our children affects their attention span. Just too many times, we witness a child calling out to their parents on trains and buses; only to be ignored or receive a very slow response rate. There is definitely something we can do as parents to ensure our children get the attention they want. Engage them during journeys. Talk to them. Make them feel connected to you.
There are many other ways to help your child manage their short attention span. These are some simple tips for a start. The key is to continuously practise these simple tips and let these be a norm in daily lives, and yours too.