Attention span is the ability to focus and concentrate on an activity for a certain span of time. Among toddlers, the attention span is quite limited. Young preschoolers have an attention span of around 5 minutes.
By the time they start going to school, it may increase to 15 minutes depending on the activity they are being engaged in.
Why is it important to help your toddler improve their concentration?
Having the ability to concentrate will help your toddler accomplish important tasks. Whether it is eating food, scribbling on paper, playing their toys, or sitting on a chair without getting up, helping them increase their attention span will help her build life skills and participate in group learning activities at preschool.
In the beginning, you can help your toddler stay focused on the task on hand but eventually, they will have to learn to be attentive for longer durations. If they learn to pay attention to a singular task as a toddler, when they grow up, they will be better focused on their academic endeavors as well as extra-curricular activities they engage in
Also, an inattentive mind tires out the body. When unfocused, both mind and body expend energies on unnecessary distractions and the primary task remains unfinished.
Below we are going to suggest some activities that will help your toddler increase their attention span and increase concentration.
Gradually extend the storytime
Kids, no matter how young they are, love stories. Kids have their own storybooks with pictures. They never tire of listening to the same storybook day after day, and even week after week.
They are focused when they are listening to their favorite story. They pay attention to the pictures in the book. They want to talk about the characters in the story. They also pay attention to the sounds you are making and the expressions on your face.
Once you have got their attention, you can gradually extend the storyline to increase the time. You can add your own twist to the story.
Create a tangential plot but make sure that it does not confuse the toddler as confusion takes attention away from the story.
If they respond, engage them by asking probing questions about the plot, characters, and consequences.
Use the activities they already show interest in
Sometimes, it is less about attention span and more about what your toddler wants to do. Do they love taking a bubble bath while their rubber toys float around?
Get them some toys that can be constructively played within the bathtub.
It is not necessary to go out and buy toys, get creative! There might be many plastic utensils and bottles around (make sure they don’t have sharp edges) that your toddler can engage constructively within the bathtub.
Avoid giving a smartphone or a tablet to your toddler
Excessive use of digital content has become a worldwide problem. Too much consumption of digital content, especially on mobile phones and tablets, is known to rewire our brain activity.
Even adults have a problem with the attention span if they spend lots of time on their mobile phones. It disturbs their circadian cycle. It kills interest in creative activities because extra stimulation tires the brain.
Many parents think that handing a mobile phone to a toddler prevents them from throwing tantrums and keeps them busy for a long time.
Yes, toddlers seem to get engrossed by mobile phones and tablets for long periods of time, but this audio-video stimulation is counter-productive, and if this stimulation is used the toddlers lose interest in any other activity and this may hamper their physical and intellectual growth.
Indulge in activities with an end result
Kids, especially toddlers, are creative by nature. Give them something to complete. Ask them to build a tower of blocks. Encourage them to draw on a paper using crayons. If there is enough space, engage them in messy arts with finger paint or use watercolors on large sheets.
The activity must be goal-oriented. The toddler must know what is to be achieved. Then they will focus on the goal and perform all the necessary tasks towards a single objective.
For example, when she is coloring, she can be asked to draw all the major colors of the rainbow based on a picture placed in front of her.
If the activity involves construction-based toys, such as lock-blocks, a figure can be placed in front of them and you can ask them to create a replica.
The end result will act as a motivation and it will also keep your toddler focused.
Remove distractions from the vicinity
Don’t want your toddler to get distracted? The first thing you must do is, remove distractions.
If you don’t want your toddler to demand your mobile phone, keep the mobile phone out of their vision. Don’t use it in front of them. Don’t place it somewhere they can easily see it, especially when you are engaging them in activities that require focus and concentration.
In the same vein, if you want your toddler to build blocks, remove other toys. Let them focus on a single activity. When you are telling them a story, remove everything they are attracted to so that they can focus just on the story.
Allow your toddler to wear their own clothes
Putting on clothes, especially in the right order, requires focus. Your toddler may take a good 5-10 minutes to put on their clothes. Since they know that putting on clothes is a necessity that cannot be avoided, they will readily do it.
Also, since they see older people around her like her parents and siblings wearing their own clothes, they may want to imitate and hence, they will readily start wearing their clothes under your guidance.
When you want to increase the attention span of your toddler initially you can begin with their favorite activities and you can prolong these activities.
As an example, as mentioned above, if they like to listen to stories, and if you normally tell them a story for 10 minutes, maybe you can extend the activity by 5 minutes.
Then, gradually, you can also start focusing on activities that maybe they may not want to indulge in. The more you train them to focus on a single activity, the better their concentration will become.