As moms, we can tend to worry about our kids and whether or not they are "on track". Every child is different and will progress at his own pace, however, there are certain milestones that are set as a way to assess if a child may have a delay in speech or language development. Whether or not you are concerned about your development, it's important to know the milestones. This way, you will be able to identify whether or not your child may need to evaluated.Read More
The older your child gets, the more he will be faced with making choices. And, as we all know well, this will never go away. As parents, we can start preparing our kids to make choices from a young age so that making choices is less overwhelming as they grow older.Read More
Having anxiety over being separated from a parent or primary caregiver, is a very normal part of child development. Babies can experience separation anxiety as early as 6 months old or as late as 18 months old. It will typically subside at 2 years old but it is not at all uncommon for it to come back in the toddler and preschool years.Read More
I do not believe that kids should be told to sit still and be quiet. In fact, not sitting still in class helps kids to learn. However, sitting and paying attention is an important skill for kids to develop and it’s a skill your toddler or preschooler should start working on sooner rather than later, at an age-appropriate level, of course.
What is the average attention span of a toddler or preschooler?
Younger toddlers at 16-19 months can typically pay attention to a structured activity for 2-3 minutes. At 20-24 months toddlers can pay attention 3-6 minutes. 25-36 months can generally pay attention to an activity for 6-8 minutes and by 3-4 years old, they can handle 8-10 minutes! (Source)
Obviously, all kids are different, so don’t stress out over it if you child is a minute off but implementing the activities and tips below can definitely help move your child toward a longer attention span.
How long should a Kindergartner be able to sit and pay attention?
Kindergarten aged children typically should be able to sit and pay attention to an activity for 10-15 minutes. So, don’t expect that your toddler or preschooler will be able to sit this long (or longer)!
Here are some ways you can help your child learn to sit still and be (moderately) quiet:
Some kids love coloring, others do not. My son is a “do not”. Of course, I don’t force him to color but it is an activity I offer on a regular basis because as simple as coloring is, it is really valuable for toddlers and preschoolers. One of the benefits is that it promotes sitting and focus.
Introduce circle time
I started doing circle time with my son when he was around a year old. Of course, it wasn’t much of a circle with just two of us but the idea was that we sat in a specific area for a story or music. When he was a baby I had taken him to a play group an they would clap their hands on their legs when it was time to sing. Since he was already familiar with this, I would do it to get his attention to come site down with me.
Participate in story time or play groups
As mentioned above, I started taking my son to a play group when he was a baby (four months old). It was set up so that there was “free play” for the moms and kids for about 30 minutes, then we sang for about 10 and ended with a snack.
Play groups like this are a great way to get your child use to sitting through an activity. If you don’t have one, you can start one with friends!
Story time is also another great way to introduce your child to the art of sitting and paying attention. Most libraries and even some bookstores offer story time. We have gone to the one at Barnes and Noble since my son was a baby.
Go to church or church activities
I personally believe there are many benefits to taking children to church but I understand that not everyone agrees. However, if you are comfortable taking your child to church, take him! This is a great, free way to prepare for school. Also, churches frequently offer activities for children that aren’t actual church services. (If you do plan on taking your child to church, check out this post on how to choose a church for your child.)
Enroll your child in a music class
There are many different music classes available for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. I love this one because music is helpful for language development and other skills that are important for learning but, also, there tends to be little actual sitting but it still teaches your child to pay attention.
More tips for helping your child learn to sit still
Offer a variety of activities
Variety is important because it’s hard for toddlers and preschoolers to focus on just one activity for an extended period of time. It’s also important to offer both quiet activities and not-so-quiet activities because children will need to know how to sit and pay attention in both environments.
Don’t expect too much
It’s important to remember that the goal is to introduce your child to sitting still. Don’t expect your child to sit for a long period of time.
Let your child take the lead
Particularly, in the beginning, follow your child’s cues. If she will only color for thirty seconds, then great, move on to something else. The point is not to make your child sit and color, it is to give her the opportunity an over time the attention span will increase.
It has only been in pretty recent months that I’ve started to encourage my son to color “one more thing” before getting up. And it’s only been in the past few weeks that he has started to show some actual concentration on what he is coloring, finishes a page, asks for more and even asks to color without being offered.
Again, there is no reason to pressure your child to sit still and be quiet but helping him to increase his attention span will be a helpful skill for future!
This post is a part of the 31 Days of Kindergarten Readiness series; new posts are up published daily in October.
About the Author
Hi! I'm Inez, the owner and content creator of For the Love of Mom, a website dedicated to helping moms thrive in motherhood by offering helpful advice, tips and resources.
Taking turns is an essential skill for children. Not only will it benefit them in school but, more importantly, this skill will make him a good friend. The best way to teach your toddler or preschooler to take turns is through practicing.Read More
If you're needing a little reassurance that it's not just you - it's not just your kids, check out these hilarious #momlife tweets that will show you that you, in fact, are not the only one.Read More
When I was a kid, my mom put me and my siblings in piano lessons. My sister was a natural, she was very good at it. I was far from a natural but, nonetheless, I loved taking piano lessons and I have seen the benefits of those lessons in my life. My brother hated it and I remember my mom telling him multiple occasions that he would thank her one day. To this day, he's yet to thank her but as it turns out, he probably should since playing a musical instrument has many benefits for children.Read More
Parenting is beautiful, but it can also be very challenging. No one gives you an instruction manual at the hospital when they hand you your bundle of joy. Raising children is the most important thing you will ever do, but it's probably one of the hardest too. The goal, of course, is to raise a happy and successful child. Easier said than done. But here are some tried and true methods to help your kids grow up to be their best selves.Read More
My son and I have been co-sleeping since he was newborn. As a toddler, he has gone through small bouts of sleeping in his own bed but, for the most part, he sleeps in bed with me. When my son was an infant, this was not something that I would openly share because I knew that sleeping co-sleeping was perceived as dangerous. But after several months, I started noticing something – a lot of moms were (are) co-sleeping. Like me, though, many don’t willingly offer that information. Specifically, in the U.S., co-sleeping is deemed unsafe, dangerous even.Read More
I am a really big believer in setting goals and it is a habit I plan to teach my son to have. As a toddler, he may be a little young to come up with his own goals, but I still think that setting family goals is important. My family goal for 2017, was for my son and me to do one new thing a week - whether it was at home or going on a new adventure. We had so many great experiences and, as a mom, this goal really challenged me to appreciate where we live and to be a little more crafty. If you haven't set family goals, I encourage you to do so. If you have older kiddos, you can include them in the process! If not, here are some goals that every family can set.Read More