Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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How Do I Teach a Child-led Curriculum: Attention Spans of Children

This week I am posting a 5-day series on a subject that is close to my heart: How Do I Teach a Child-led Curriculum?

Today, I am talking about attention spans of children.  Here is the rest of the schedule:

Tuesday: Attention Spans of Children

Since this is a preschool blog, I will be discussing the entire subject with a focus on young children, but the principles can also be applied to older children (who can often have even more input in planning their schedules).

Attention Spans of Children

Your children's attention span is one of the most important things to be aware of and monitoring as you teach!  Whether you use child-led techniques, or not, children will misbehave if you expect them to focus longer than they are able.

How long should a child be able to focus?  Different experts have different opinions about what you can expect:  some think children should be able to focus on a task for up to five minutes for every year old that they are (so that would be 25 minutes for a five-year old) while others say to expect one minute plus an additional minute for each year (giving the five-year old a six-minute attention span).  I have found this rule most helpful in planning: expect a need for change after a child focuses on a task for one minute for each year of their age.  This does not mean that your five-year old can only do math for five minutes, but it does mean that you should not expect a five-year old to do a math worksheet or the same type of manipulative for more than five minutes straight.

The beautiful thing about child-led learning is that most children can focus much longer when they are doing something they are interested in.  They get excited about what they are learning and want more!

Choice Theory, Attention Spans, & Behavior

I love the Choice Theory concept by William Glasser (a psychiatrist)  because I think it explains why you can "do" more school (and your children can learn more) when they choose the subjects.

According to choice theory, humans have five basic needs: survival, love & belonging, power, freedom, and fun.  Our behavior is driven be the desire to meet those needs.

How does this apply to school?  When having fun becomes a higher priority than a school lesson, the school lesson can can no longer hold the child's attention, and the child will behave in such a way that will meet the need for fun.  When the child chooses the lesson, though, the subject is more fun, the child has exercised power and freedom, and the child experiences love & belonging from the teacher or parent.  Simply by using child-led teaching, school meets more of the child's needs, and the child is able to focus longer and enjoy school more!

Take Home Message

Does your child misbehave during school time?  If not, wonderful!!  If so, why?  Are there any of Glasser's basic needs that are not being met?  If so, would using a child-led curriculum help?  If so, give it a try!

How do you feel about Glasser's ideas?  Could they improve your child's attention span?

How Do I Teach … 5 Day Blog Series is brought to you by the following blogs:
Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ Homeschool Gameschool ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ No Doubt Learning ~ Mrs. Redd’s Classroom Blog ~ Proverbial Homemaker ~ My Joy Filled Life ~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Vicki Arnold ~ Only Passionate Curiosity ~ Living Life and Learning ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ 3 Dinosaurs

Disclaimer: These posts are based on my personal and professional experiences.  What works well for our family may or may not work best for yours!

I may share at any of these parties!


Unknown said...

Hello I found your page looking for fun stuff for the grandchildren,I like your teaching idea's , my oldest granddaughter just started preschool and her best friend has some problems behaving , but I know him he needs to by really intrested in the subject and he will listen and engage , I think if he felt he had some control he would do much better .