This may sound obvious, but the younger a child is, the more carefree their mind will be. They don’t have to worry yet about college admissions, who they’re going to take to the prom or when they can learn to drive. Their main concern is the here and now, what they are going to do next to amuse themselves. It can be difficult to engage with a mindset that is so different to your very own but there are times when we need our children to stay engaged with us. After all, even before children are kindergarten age, they are still learning!
The early years of childhood are incredibly important for our children’s development. Most children have mastered general conversation, the basics of colors and A, B, Cs as well as basic social interaction long before they’ve reached a classroom.
But how do you keep a child focused enough to learn shapes and colors when everything that blows by catches their attention? If you’re looking to keep your child focused and engaged throughout the day, try following some of these tips and you will soon be engaging with your child as if it was second nature.
Relax and Share The Fun and Enthusiasm
As we get older, adults tend to become more straight-laced and cynical, forgetting how to play or enjoy ourselves. If you want to get your child’s attention, don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself. Pull a funny face, clown around, start off a game and encourage your children to join in and copy your actions. Not just your actions, but your body language and your voice can assure your child you are excited about being with them and sharing an activity.
Make Things Into A Game
Unfortunately, children nowadays don’t play enough! A paper by David Elkind in 2008 found that children play an average of eight hours less a week than their counterparts did in the 1980s, only 30 years ago (source). Elkind even found children as young as two were sitting in front of a television for many hours a day. As parents, we need to turn that time into much-needed playtime.
Almost any activity can be turned into a game when you are trying to engage children. A game can be a way of seeing how well you can achieve something or challenging the child to reach a goal, particularly ideal for that school work they brought home. Just saying “let’s see how fast we can do this.” or “who can finish this first” will often keep a child’s full attention.
Let The Child Participate More
We don’t like being told what to do, so why should a child? The best and often most simple way to keep a child’s attention and get them to learn is by letting them try for themselves. This could be as simple as allowing them to act out parts of a story you are telling like making the noises of the big bad wolf in a fairy tale or repeating certain lines. When baking, try to involve your children and get them to work out the quantities, a good way of teaching numbers and simple math.
Most people will respond more to a tune, and children even more so. Singing a silly or simple song like “this is how we clean our teeth, clean our teeth…etc” will help keep the child’s attention. In the following YouTube clip, a preschool teacher gives an example of how she uses music to get children to focus.
It’s often said the world would be a boring place in black and white, and colors have long been recognized for their use in learning and keeping the attention of not just children but adults too(source). Colorful visuals can be essential for engaging young children. Colorful posters, books or flashcards will keep the attention of your children.
Art is A Great Way of Keeping Your Child Engaged
A simple coloring in book, or a project like making something from household objects can be engaging for the child and something you can do together. You may even find it quite therapeutic yourself, as it helps you forget many of the stresses of daily life for a short while.
Consistency Is The Key
If you want to keep your child engaged, be consistent. Nobody likes unfairness, especially children. If you lay down the rules, often you can make a game of this, so that the child knows what to expect. A system of rewards or a regular thing like ice cream Friday or play day Sunday can give them a structured routine and help keep their attention for longer.
What are your ‘attention-grabbing’ hacks? Share with us in the comments below!