There’s an old saying insinuating that goldfish have a short attention span. According to recent data, that attention span is nine seconds long. If you have young children in your house, you know that goldfish may be able to hold on longer than some kids. So, what can we do to help our youth stay focused? How can I stay on track when my best friend’s third cousin just got married in Hawaii and the pictures should be on Instagram now?! Let’s take a look at staying focused-together.
Day2Day Parenting says the attention span of kids is anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes depending on age. That may be a bit higher than what you were expecting! Keep in mind, the average adult attention span runs close to the same at around 20 minutes. So we need to find a way to keep the kids, and ourselves, entertained.
Every motivational article you read will always talk about being active. For those couch potatoes, like myself, that is the last thing I want to hear. I am not telling you to go take your group of 3rd graders to run a marathon. What I am saying is find a way you and your children can get ‘antsy.’ Have you heard of Fortnite? Fortnite is a popular game among kids today. In the game, there are tons of dances that have taken the internet by storm! Look up some of these dance moves, or have your kids show you. In between lessons or chores, throw in a quick Fortnite dance battle. It’ll up your productivity and burn a calorie or two!
Get off topic from whatever it is you are losing focus on. Trying to discuss long division with 5 year olds? That’s going to be rough on you AND them. Let’s jump to something else. Give a second to ease the forming anxiety of a hard lesson and the limited patience on your end, to something else constructive. Can we play a game? Can we get moving? Can we take a 5-minute coloring break? Implementing "brain breaks" are important.
Give into Your Phone-Checking Urge
The more we tell ourselves not to do something, the more we want to do it. Instead of telling yourself you can’t check Facebook all day, tell yourself you can in moderation. Set goals for yourself but don’t wreck your patience by abstaining from all cellular contact. The same can go for your older children as well. Are they completely distracted by something on the phone? Obviously, ensure there is no problem at hand first. Then see if there is some way we can incorporate the phones into a lesson in the future. Kahoot.com is an awesome service that gives people the chance to pick multiple choice answers from questions you design. Bringing in a modern touch to a boring lecture will help amp up participation for the day.
Snacking, when done in healthy moderation, can be a way to trick our minds into easing some of that attention deficit we may feel midday. There is a reason why we call certain foods ‘brain food' and they can be tasty too! Not only is a full tummy a way to keep a hunger-headache at bay but the constant growling won’t divert our focus. Making sure you are satisfied with your hunger levels can keep you from staring at the clock waiting for lunch break. Also, a vitamin B-complex might help your overall energy! B12 has been known to increase energy by keeping the body working in tip-top shape. Make sure you consult a doctor before making any food changes to your diet!
We all get tired. We all get bored. Finding ways to keep your kids excited and on-topic will be one that continually needs to be nurtured and strengthened. Finding out the cool topics of the day and trying to incorporate that into lesson plans and daily life could be what your child needs to stay focused! Let’s keep Grey’s Anatomy out of the lesson plan, ladies. Although McDreamy might keep us focused, he won’t win the kids over as well as the newest meme.
Melissa Miller has been working to keep students learning even while having fun with her blog Bad Science Jokes. She is a NASASocial Alumni, author of the ALKYNES book series, and social media marketer. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.