If you’re like most parents of school aged children in 2021, you understand the difficulty of helping your child pay attention, in class, on a virtual platform. Virtual classrooms may create additional problems for students, parents, and teachers.
Triton Empowers Parents!
Triton’s Director of Programs, Katerina Violante, provides adapting strategies for you to implement at home for what may have been an uphill battle until now. Here are some key factors to consider in supporting your child’s attention.
- Capacity to attend
Having realistic expectations from the beginning is the first place to start. Parents must determine how long their child can reasonably pay attention to a task before setting up any systems. As a rule, an average attention span is 3-5 minutes per year of a child’s age. (If the child is 10 years old, 30-50 minutes is reasonable.) This varies depending on how enjoyable a child finds a task. If expectations are too high, this will lead to frustration in both your child and you.
- Attention barriers
Barriers vary greatly between individuals. Determining the optimal learning environment (e.g. amount of sensory stimulation in the environment, time of day, order of tasks, task preference) is a starting point. What factors have you noticed are particular barriers for your child? What modifications can you make to create an environment that will foster attention?
Motivation is a factor that will carry over in other areas of your child’s life beyond attention. Especially when completing a task your child dislikes or avoids, proper motivation can change drudgery that takes hours, into swiftly completed tasks. You’ll be surprised what your child can accomplish when properly motivated. (This goes for special needs kiddos, too!)
Motivation must be positive, not a punishment. This can be difficult if we wait until our child’s behavior has gone awry. Being proactive is the best way to approach motivation. This means instituting a behavior plan from the beginning. If you’re thinking it’s too late since your child has already been doing at-home school for months, that’s okay! Turning over a new leaf by introducing a motivator is good. What we don’t want to do is merely respond to bad behavior in the moment without having set any expectations or system. (This quickly spirals into bribery, which is counterproductive in the long run.)
An effective motivator will establish an end goal of the child’s choosing, and provide intermittent steps to achieve that goal. An example of this is a token board. Steps are always given, never taken away, and depend upon an established accomplishment of the child (e.g. responses, or time worked).
What your child’s motivator entails is entirely up to your child’s preferences and your personal style. Questions to consider while preparing a motivator: Will they earn tokens, tallies? Will they work for a physical prize, a preferred toy, an event? What does task completion mean? Would it be beneficial or not to show time passing? All of these factors depend on a child’s age, developmental ability, and personal preferences.
If you’re looking for more guidance on attention, stay tuned for our free (virtual) Parent Activities, coming soon! If you want support now, please fill out this form to speak with a Parent Representative. Find out more about what Triton offers here! Follow us on Social!