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Managing Students With Low Attention Spans

By rasmed on October 4th, 2021

distracted girl

Children have a very fragile attention span. Even when they want to pay attention it can still be really hard for them. They fidget, drink water, sharpen pencils, look out the window… basically, anything can be a distraction to them. Managing students with low attention spans is a deliberate and well thought out process.

Research shows that children should be able to focus on tasks for 2-5 minutes multiplied by their age. That means that a 5-year-old child is able to focus for 25 or 10 minutes. The difference though varies from child to child and depends on the task. Attention is an important part of the learning process and so it needs to be managed. Here are 7 tips for managing students with low attention spans.

7 Tips for Managing Students With Low Attention Span

Break Down the Task– Seeing as attention spans vary, it is important to break down tasks in such a way that a 25 minutes class is not spent just listening to you. Break the class tasks into small bits and have students focus on one at a time. Let them take short breaks at the end of each task.

Spice Up Mundane Tasks– The use of teaching aids like legos, play-dough, craft paper, stones and the likes make your lessons more interesting.  You can also use practical examples, role-play or storytelling techniques that get your students involved in the lesson. The more activity and entertainment a lesson comes with, the more it is likely to hold your student’s attention.

Avoid Routine– Shake things up in your classroom every now and then because students with low attention span get bored with routine. Consider having class in new locations like the lab, on the playground, in the kitchen, sitting on mats, etc. Be as creative with your lessons as possible. Note this, the more hands-on and involving a lesson is, the more the students pay attention.

Eliminate Distractions– Knowing that students can get distracted easily by a lot of things is good insight for you as their teacher. You can remove every possible source of distractions around them like water bottles or colourful/fancy pencil cases. Also, separate friends seating together and switch the window view of an easily distracted student. These are not sureties that there will be no distractions but it reduces the chances.

Practise Paying Attention– There are activities that can help improve your student’s attention span. Such activities include focused games like – board games or spot the difference, movement breaks or concentration activities like walking or balancing exercises. These activities, practised at non-crucial times of the day and without pressure, will help a lot. Find more useful activities here.

Praise Efforts– We are used to giving praise for the outcomes of efforts but when dealing with students with low attention span the opposite is the trick. Say, “Wow, well done, you wrote your name within the line”. Or “Thank you for paying attention” after they are able to correctly answer a question you ask them. You must be deliberate about praising them as that can be an encouragement to them to do better.

Get Help!- Observing your students behaviours will help you determine if their low attention spans can be managed with these tips. Otherwise, they may need more complex and medical help to pay attention to. Some students with low attention spans may have Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and may need to be treated by a doctor. Have conversations with your student’s parents about their child’s attention span. You can help them realize that there are medical options available to help their kids if they are not aware.

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