Improving your kids’ attention spans

In today's media-saturated world, many people have short attention spans. We're used to having a question and getting an answer within a few seconds thanks to the internet, and this can affect children as well. Parents can help their kids improve their attention spans with a few tips:

Start with food
The word "hangry" refers to when a person is hungry so they become angry and grumpy. Kids can feel this, too, and being hangry is not conducive to patience and focus. Make sure your kids eat balanced meals with a lot of fiber. Whole wheat bread and oats, for example, offer long-lasting energy that trickles off as the day goes on. Sugary cereals on the other hand provide a quick burst of energy that may lead to impatience and lack of interest in those morning classes. Snacks like celery and peanut butter, granola bars and even nachos can stabilize blood sugar and increase your kid's attention spans later in the day.

Encourage breaks
Far too many people avoid taking breaks because they're afraid they will interrupt productivity. In reality, when a person is struggling to pay attention, he or she may find that focusing on something else for just five minutes can greatly improve concentration. Students may find scheduling work/break times is beneficial to getting things done and being more focused. Start with doing 20 minutes of homework and then taking a 10-minute break. Then, as this becomes easier, kids can move on to longer work periods like working for an hour and then taking a 15-minute break. Off-times should include doing something totally unrelated to the task at hand, such as reading for fun, going for a walk or even browsing social media.

Change tactics
Watch your child work on school assignments. You'll probably find there is a subject or topics that he or she has a hard time with and avoids. To make it easier to pay attention and get these items done, encourage your kids to change what they're doing. Working on Common Core math, an often under-appreciated subject, for 20 minutes should be followed by an easier subject for another 20 minutes. This way the child can better concentrate for shorter periods of time and know that relief is on the way.

Limit distractions
It's incredibly difficult for parents to get work done when their computers and phones are constantly lighting up with notifications about emails and photo likes. Kids have a similar experience as their attention shifts from homework to text messages or listening to the TV in the other room. To promote better attention spans, reduce as many distractions as possible. This may mean creating a homework area of your home where there is little noise and nothing to look at so students have to focus. Kids should consider putting their phones in a drawer on silent or even leaving the devices in another room so they aren't tempted to take a peak until break time.

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