Preschoolers usually have a short attention span. According to an article on the Early Intervention Support website, a preschooler should be able to focus on a task or something that interests him for eight to 10 minutes. If you are the adult in charge of this child, this can seem like a short time, especially if you are trying to prepare a meal or complete some other chore.
Limit Media Access
"Television and Children," published by University of Michigan health system says that even having a television on in the house can cause 3-year-olds to develop more aggressive behavior, regardless of the content or whether the child is actively viewing the material. "Consuming Kids", a video from the Education Media Foundation, points out that commercials designed to be viewed with children's programming often portrays inappropriate behavior while encouraging consumption of sweetened food. An elementary school counselor speaking to a young mother explained that watching commercial television trains children to do things in 15 minute segments, the length of time programming is presented between commercial breaks.
Provide for Safe Exploration
Provide an area in your house for safe play. This might be your child's room or a corner of your living room or kitchen. Stock it with child-friendly supplies such as miniature house-keeping tools, a dress-up box, crayons, paper and books. Gear the items toward your child's likes and dislikes, focusing on interesting items that require little help from you. According to Julia Richards' article "Getting Children To Play Independently And Why It Is Important," written for the Parent Practice, free play encourages your child to problem solve and to be creative. Magda Gerber, of Resources for Infant Educare, reminds parents that uninterrupted play and freedom to explore allows children to focus on an activity.
Encourage regular sleeping times and regular, balanced meals. A hungry, tired child will quickly lose interest in a toy or activity. Quality rest and good nutrition help children focus and concentrate. Mayo Clinic says that a good diet for kids is similar to a good diet for adults, and should center around a balance of protein, vegetables and fruits. WebMD says preschoolers usually need between 11 and 13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
Read Aloud, Play Recorded Books
Reading aloud to your child give three benefits: personal time with you, a sustained quiet activity and introduction to books as fun and interesting. Reading aloud also promotes language development. When you don't have time to read aloud, let your preschooler listen to a recorded book. Unlike television, recorded books encourage your child to use his imagination because his mind has to supply the pictures to go with the words of the story. Begin by reading aloud short books or providing short books on tape, then gradually add longer ones as your child grows older.
- Kids Growth: Attention Deficit Disorder (Short Attention Span)
- Arkansas Tech University: Fun Ways to Increase Children’s Attention Span
- Early Intervention Support: Behavior Tips: Attention Span
- Scholastic: Ages and Stages
- Scholastic: Ages and Stages
- Pediatrics September 2007: Does Childhood Television Viewing Lead to Attention Problems in Adolescence? Results From a Prospective Longitudinal Study; Carl Erik Landhuis
- International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activitiy: Early childhood television viewing predicts explosive leg strength and waist circumference by middle childhood
- Media Education Foundation: Consuming Kids, The Commercialization of Childhood
- White Dot: It's Official: TV Linked to Attention Deficit
- National Literacy Trust: Why do Many Young Children Lack Literacy Skills?
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