Streeeetching The Attention Span!
Renata Bursten, Dragonfly Staff
Setting up a non-distracting play and learning environment.
Your mind has a neat filtering skill that you rarely 'think' about yet constantly use.
,In order to focus on one thing, your mind ignores all of the other things going on around it (to some degree.) Without this faculty, we would be constantly distracted. Children who have difficulty 'filtering' and thus have trouble focusing on one thing are often called 'distractible'. They can't screen out irrelevant stimulation, so it seems that everything is responded to.
Therapeutic play in a calm play environment can help a child focus on the task at hand. There is evidence to suggest that, with repeated practice, specific attention and filtering faculties may be acquired. Some helpful tips for creating a good play environment are:
,1. Pick a consistent time of day to sit down with the child.
2. Try to choose a time of day when the child is usually calm, not tired, and ready to play.
3. Ideally find a corner of a room away from windows or other distractions (i.e. bright patterned drapes or eye catching artwork).
3. Eliminate all the background noise possible. White noise from a fan can cover the noise you can't eliminate.
4. The adult should avoid wearing pendant jewelry and other attention grabbers.
5. Only one toy or activity should be visible on the table at a time.
6. The child should learn to clear the table of one activity before beginning with the next.
7. Pick activities that are fun and will capture your child's attention. This can be a special treat time kids and adults will both start to look forward to.
8. Always let the child know you are proud of them for their efforts in attending for longer and longer periods.
Happy play time, everyone!