Sustaining Attention

Nov 13, 2022

“They never pay attention.”  “She can’t wait for anything.”  “He keeps telling me he’s bored.”  These are phrases I hear regularly from adults.  It doesn’t surprise me.  I believe it has to do with the way kids’ brains have been conditioned. 

In our ever-changing world filled with high-impact video games, reality TV shows, and action-filled movies, kids have been programed for instant gratification and continuous novelty.  This makes it difficult for them to sustain attention to everyday tasks and delay gratification.

The reality is that in school, work, and life, we have times in our day that are a bit more ritualized and ordinary, so we need to find ways to teach our kids how to handle them.  My suggestion?  Have students read more for pleasure.

Like our daily lives, stories have peaks and valleys.  We coast through some sections, while flying through others.  Having kids read gives them practice navigating through the mundane to get to the “good” parts.  [Have you ever realized you had stopped reading several pages back and had to reread?  Yes, those would be the parts to which I’m referring.]  Reading resets kids brains to a healthy balance of ritual and novelty.

I was not an avid reader, but I do remember getting lost in several Encyclopedia Brown mysteries when I was young.  My sister loved the Little House on the Prairie and Nancy Drew books.  Luckily, my boys had Harry Potter and The Lightening Thief.  So, if your kids are having a hard time paying attention or complaining they’re bored, have them pick up a good book.  Wait for it…  I’m thinking it will be a real page-turner.

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