Playing on the floor with your child is a wonderful way to enhance your child’s attention span. Attention requires practice, and practice will occur naturally during “floor time” for a child who has been blessed with the ability to concentrate and focus. Floor time can also help a child who is easily distracted. During floor time, an unfocused child can learn the skills necessary for paying attention.
You can help your often sidetracked child develop concentration and focus by teaching him or her how to respond to your words and gestures. You do this by varying the energy that you put into your voice while you play on the floor. If a simple “Come here, let’s play with the car” gets no response, try a more energetic yet warm and loving “Hey, buddy! I need you over here!”
As your intensity and cadence increase during play, you may see your child staying involved with you for thirty seconds or forty seconds. As you continue to play and practice during floor time, you will be able to add a few more seconds to the span of your interactions.
Your child will have an easier time developing skills of attention if the learning centers around activities that he or she finds interesting. The more fleeting your child’s attention, the stronger your motivational spark will need to be. Some kids like to be physical in their activities, such as hopping or jumping, while others tune in to those that involve fine motor skills, like drawing and painting. Initially use your child’s strengths, so your child will find it easier to join in the fun, and then you can gradually add more challenging activities to foster his or her ability to pay attention.
Interacting during fun floor-time activities is a great way to teach your child how to expand the ability to stay focused rather than moving randomly from one activity to the next.
More to consider: Recognizing the easily distracted child . . .
A child who is easily distracted may play in a way that looks disorganized. For example, she or he may pick up one toy for only a couple of seconds, drop it, and then get up and run around the room, grab a bucket of toy cars, and roll the cars all over the floor every which way.