Paying attention is a learned skill
(NC) Most students could maintain their focus if asked to complete a single activity in a quiet room by themselves. But put 30 children in a room together, and as the noise level increases, ability to concentrate decreases, and attention wanders.
A dropped pencil, a sneeze, a giggle, a bird outside the window(the list of distractions in a typical classroom is endless. Many parents and teachers might be forgiven for concluding that a child has an Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) if they are unable to remain focused, but it's possible many students simply have not been taught how to pay attention.
Nick Whitehead, the CEO of Oxford Learning, says that the increased number of children diagnosed with ADD may not necessarily mean that more children have attention deficits, but that we are not teaching our children the learned behaviour of paying attention.
“In addition to measuring and testing kids for attention deficit, we need to reconsider our lifestyles and the ways we teach children,” he explains. “Many kids can't pay attention because they have not been taught the skill of concentration. I am not trying to claim that attention deficits do not exist, however, many kids who have trouble paying attention do not have ADD. They merely have a short attention span.”
Whether your child has been professionally diagnosed, or could simply benefit from better concentration skills, these tips can help all students remain focused and learn better:
• Play the Attention Game: Teach and remind your child to be mindful/self-aware.
• Cue: Say the child's name first to get his/her attention before giving directions.
• Establish Routines: Schedule consistent homework/study times and spaces.
• Clear the Clutter: Within a dedicated workspace, get rid of distractions (TVs, phones, radios, etc.).
• Demonstrate: When teaching new tasks, demonstrate them. Repeat as necessary. Be patient.
• Get Organized: Teach and re-teach organization skills. Before starting, break tasks into smaller, more manageable parts and go over all instructions clearly.
• Build Confidence: Celebrate every success, no matter how minor.
• Be Positive: Focus on successes, not failures. Look at what your child is doing well and celebrate it.
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