The Link Between Paying Attention and Learning

Some children have difficulty paying attention. Sometimes they have difficulty staying in one spot for longer than a few seconds. Sometimes they get so focused on what they are doing that they have trouble shifting their attention. They may miss much of what you say. They may miss the beginnings of sentences or words. Here are some suggestions that will help small children to pay attention:

  • Follow your child’s focus of attention. Talk about what interests them. This helps them connect your language to their actions.
  • Speak slowly. Repeat new words in a few different sentences.
  • Minimize distractions. Shutting off appliances, shut off the radio, and shut off the TV. Have only one or two toys available at a time.
  • Do not get your child to shift attention too often. If you direct their attention to something else, give them time to shift their attention before talking about it.
  • A gentle tap on the shoulder may be a better way of getting them to shift their attention than just talking.
  • Talk to your child face to face, at the same level. It is much easier to pay attention to someone who is “in your face.” If you are holding an object and talking about it, bring it close to your face so that your child can pay attention to it and to you at the same time.
  • Use lots of gestures and facial expression as well as an animated voice to get your child’s attention.
  • Use what your child is interested in to capture their attention. For example, many small children like to open and close containers. Put small objects or pictures into clear containers with lids – then talk about them as your child opens and closes the containers.

I hope these suggestions were helpful! If you have concerns about your child’s speech or language, please contact a Speech-Language Pathologist. If you live in or near Winnipeg, we at SpeechWorks Inc. would be happy to help. We provide services in English and French for children and adults to help with speech, language, swallowing and memory.

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