Age of Learning, creators of ABCmouse Early Learning Academy and Adventure Academy, understand the frustrations that virtually all parents and teachers experience when trying to get a child to focus on a task for an extended period of time. Seemingly no number of discussions or amount of pleading can convince a child to buckle down and stay focused long enough to complete the required work. This is largely due to the correlation between attention span and age. As children grow older, the average length of their attention span increases. The education experts at Age of Learning know that for most children below the age of 10, focusing on a task like homework for more than 30 minutes is nearly impossible. Today, Age of Learning Reviews hopes to educate the public on attention span expectations, ways that children’s attention spans can be negatively affected, and strategies to help increase kids’ focus.
Many childhood specialists agree that a general rule of thumb when determining a child’s attention span is to expect 2-3 minutes of attention per year of their age. It should be noted that while some developmental researchers put this number closer to 5 minutes per year, most agree that number is too high. Although every child is different, on average, most children can be expected to be able to focus for the following amount of time:
- Age 4, 8-12 minutes
- Age 5, 10-14 minutes
- Age 6, 12-18 minutes
- Age 7, 14-21 minutes
- Age 8, 16-24 minutes
- Age 9, 18-27 minutes
- Age 10, 20-30 minutes
These numbers can still vary greatly, depending on internal and external factors such as how loud a room is, how tired or hungry a child is, or simply how interested they are in a particular activity.
To better help a child concentrate both at home, and in the classroom, parents should first ensure their children are getting enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), school-aged children should sleep between 9 -13 hours a night. Without the necessary 9 – 13 hours of sleep, the brain’s neurons become overworked, making alertness and concentration more difficult. Next, make sure the child is not hungry, and then set the child up in an areas with sufficient light for the task and a minimum amount of surrounding noise and other potential distractions, if possible.
Once the child is set up for success, the best strategy is to allow him or her frequent breaks throughout a lengthy task.Use the age-specific guidelines listed above to decide how many breaks there should be. If, for example, a 10-year-old child is tasked with completing a paper that would take over an hour, parents and educators should encourage the child to take two 5 minute breaks. This will help increase the child’s concentration by breaking up the hour-long task into three manageable 20 minute sessions. Rather than experiencing a failed attempt to concentrate for an hour without breaks, a child able to concentrate through three 20-minute sessions will feel a sense of accomplishment, which will lead to future confidence in his or her concentration abilities.