Learning about attention from children.

Updated: Jul 3


Scientists have discovered that the maximum span of attention of a young child particularly a preschool child is less than 5 minutes. Yet each teaching session is more than 30 minutes long in most schools.


No matter how important the subject may be or how sincere the child and teacher, if teaching is inappropriate it will only result in frustration, anger, and a great waste of time and resources. There are three basic ways to ensure attention and learning.


The first is to scold, beat and traumatise the child.

Some strict disciplinarians and old fashioned teachers and even some parents who use only fear and punishment. Whether it be human or animal, fear may train them but will never make them better.

Fear damages and scars the child for life and makes him or her hate learning. This dislike for learning is the greatest harm that can be imposed on a child.


Some parents and teachers keep on promising and giving the child some bribes and this is the second approach. This breeds a harmful and even a destructive sense of entitlement. This approach results in the child learning little or nothing and in addition to being expensive it is probably as bad a the worst form of teaching or bringing up a child.


Both these approaches give fast but not very good results.


As in all things there is a third way. Make learning fun and self directed. Meaning instead of force feeding the child food and learning, make it into a game.

And we know that children can go on playing endlessly until stopped. This approach however requires a lot of attention and commitment and a fair bit of time. Happily this approach is adopted by our sons Mohit and Pavit with their sons Tegh Vir Singh and Aryan Singh respectively. The children have developed an insatiable appetite for learning.


Yet even the best of parents get tired and run short of time. So when Pavit asked Aryan, "why are you not paying attention, and why is your attention span so short?" Aryan replied, "Papa my attention span is not too short, the teaching span is too long".


Come to think of it, one can learn much from children on handling adults. Adults are no more than overgrown children who live complicated lives, hiding behind numerous veils and masks.

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