Attention and Teenagers

8 seconds. Multiple sites on the internet state that a teenager’s attention span is 8 seconds… and that the attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. Dig a little deeper and you find that this is an urban myth. (Just goes to show that you can’t believe everything on the internet… you have to know your sources.)

Attention Training and schools

So, why does attention really matter in your child’s life? Intuitively, most parents and teachers recognize that children need to pay attention to learn something or follow instructions. However, attention is more foundational than that. For example, attention is needed to sustain appropriate focus on a task.

For both teachers and students, paying attention can be especially challenging during the coronavirus crisis as it upends what everyone is used to. It is a lot harder for students to pay attention on Zoom than during in-person classes (a distraction is only a click away) and teachers are still getting comfortable with the new way of teaching.

Boys and ballet - Attention and boys

What do Training attention, boys and ballet have in common? 

In 4th grade, I started playing basketball in large part because I was tall for my age. By 6th grade, I was 6’3” and towered over my classmates. Growing so quickly created a lot of awkwardness. I “lost” the ability to do a layup and often tripped over my own feet. It was a painful stage that just took time to overcome.

Bedtime routines - Working Memory

One of the great joys I have is talking with parents whose children are using the Attention Arcade. Recently, I spoke with JoAnn, whose son has been using the Attention Arcade very diligently (20+ minutes nearly everyday) for three weeks.

Attention and Distance Learning

While most children find distance learning to be disruptive, children who struggle with attention challenges can have additional challenges with home-based learning and remote teaching. Recognize that some things are beyond your control, but other things are not. Here are a few suggestions to improve your child’s focus.

Reduce At-Home Distractions

Your child will likely engage the online learning class better with headphones that block out ambient sounds and a microphone that amplifies your student’s voice. 

back to happy - attention testimonial

Our daughter struggled, with a capital S, in middle school.  It made me remember the soul crushing awkwardness of that age, the confusion of higher expectations, the need for social acceptance, the loneliness of exclusion, the fear of being less-than.  Yep!  Middle school is hard for lots of people. 

Families and Executive function - working memory

Attention is thought of mostly as a cognitive choice. When teachers and parents say, “Pay Attention!” they imply that the child being inattentive is doing so by choice. What if, like being able to do a cartwheel or a handstand, attention is something that some children do with ease while others require much more training and assistance?

Attention and School Outcomes

My child can’t stay focused in class.  

The past year was difficult.  We started the year doing pretty well and then things started to slip.  Teachers called to say that assignments were missing, not once or twice but regularly.  We tried punishments, no trip to the river if you don’t turn in your homework.  There were tears and tantrums and in the end.  Nothing short of constant supervision made an impact. 

Attention and school outcomes we can help

What’s the difference between students who do well in the classroom and those who don’t? In many cases, attention is the underlying difference between classroom success and failure. Students with strong attention skills do markedly better than those with weak attention skills.

Most educators know that attention is important to learning.