January 8, 2013
Maybe it’s time to retire the idea of playing classical music or giving your child the marshmallow test to determine their scholarly potential.
You have been demanding your child’s attention since day one. As adults, we will collaboratively wave our hands, jump around, and make funny faces, just to get a baby to look our way for the perfect photo. Encouraging a longer attention span (and not just for that photo) can be a challenge.
Studies suggest that four-year-olds who show better attention and concentration, and are better at taking direction, have greater academic success. Children with better attention spans also showed improved reading and math achievement at age 21.
Here are some specific activities to do with your child to help develop attention and concentration early on:
- Hold a toy that your child reaches for near your face, say “look!” Your child should look at you and then the object. Reward by giving the toy.
- As they get older and more interested in books, use the pictures to attract their attention to a specific character/object. Encourage them to look at you, then the picture, which will build shared awareness or joint attention.
- Nearly every toddler loves bubbles, have your little one look at you (make eye contact) then track a bubble together by pointing and popping!
Joint attention, or the sharing of an experience between a child and a partner, is one of the first steps in early communication and is necessary for speech and language development.
The essential recipe for increasing attention span is mental stimulation. As a parent, you can create excitement in whatever is being taught during normal daily routines, like getting dressed, mealtime, or going out. This means encouraging face-time during play using basic techniques for word learning (unfortunately time attending to the TV doesn’t count).
Stay tuned for next week’s video blog for more tips on improving attention and eye contact.