3 Ways To Increase Toddler Attention Span
Toddlers are very curious about everything around them and quickly jump from one thing to the next. They are not able to tune out what is going on around them especially when they are in an environment with a lot of stimuli. Toddlers have short attention spans and get distracted frequently so we are here to help you understand ways to increase toddler attention span.
Why is increasing your toddler's attention span important?
Attention span is the foundation of play-based learning and play-based learning is an incredibly important part of a toddler’s development. It is how they explore the world around them and develop emotional and social awareness.
We want to give our little ones all the tools they need to learn and grow, and with play-based learning, these tools come in the form of toys. The average U.S. family has 71 toys in their home, and one in ten families have more than 200 toys. But, when it comes to toys, more is not always better.
Research has shown that toddlers actually fare better in an environment with fewer toys. By limiting the number of toys your child has access to, they can actually learn more from the toys that they have.
In a study between children with 4 toys in a play session and children with 16 toys in a play session, the children with fewer toys spent less time switching between toys and were able to engage in longer instances of play.
Furthermore, research has also shown that toddlers have the ability to have a maximum attention span of five minutes per year of their age, meaning that a 3-year-old can focus on a task for up to 15 minutes at a time. On average attention span is 4 to 6 minutes for 2-year olds, 8 to 12 minutes for 4-year-olds, and 12 to 18 minutes for 6-year-olds.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, that’s great, but what does this mean for me?”
When we incorporate this research into how we care for our little ones, there are three main things we should try to avoid to increase toddler attention span: clutter, disorganization, and single-use tools.
A cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind.
By limiting the number of toys you own or have out in a particular play session, you can help your kiddo’s attention span. Making decisions is quite difficult for little brains, so by limiting their options, they are able to spend more time with their toy and their imagination. This fosters a better attention span and more time spent playing — and thus, learning.
Play is the main event in any child’s day of learning, and their play space should reflect that. The fewer distractions present in the form of other toys or clutter, the better. By decluttering the play space, you are also allowing the play at hand to take center stage.
Decluttering is a term that can be left up to your own interpretation. Some families may decide to ask grandparents not to give any more gifts (If this is the route you take, check out this blog post for some ideas). Other families may decide to donate the toys they have, and others yet may decide to rotate out what toys are available to their children. How you decide to declutter is not important — what you decide to keep is.
2. ORGANIZE PLAY SPACE to increase toddler attention span
Keeping a home clean and clutter-free feels like an uphill battle some days. By decreasing the number of toys in your play space, you are able to keep things organized so much easier.
Toys should have a designated area at kid-level. What that looks like may differ depending on what works for your family – bins, shelves, baskets, or even a designated corner. What is important is that the “home” for your toys is both physically and visibly accessible to your children.
When the toys are accessible, your child can feel more confident in their choice of what they’re playing with and is more likely to get your 3-year-old focused on that instance of play.
Cleaning up can be an overwhelming task to us as grown-ups, so you can only imagine how overwhelming it can be to someone who is still learning about the world. By reducing the number of toys they have to put away, you can help them build organizational skills and pride in their play space.
3. INVEST IN MULTIPURPOSE TOYS
When I’m buying a new tool, whether it be for my kitchen or for around my house, I want it to have multiple purposes. I would rather have a multi-tool than have to find storage for eight different screwdrivers and pliers and the like. In this same vein, we should make sure the toys we give our children have multiple uses too. Toys are the tools of play, after all.
This means that we need to be intentional about what toys make their way into our play spaces. Toys that serve only one purpose can be fun, but they can hinder creativity and detract from the play session. By having a single toy with multiple functions, like the Play & Learn Wooden Activity Cube or our 6-piece puzzle set, your kiddo can use their wooden activity cube for a long time without losing interest.
By giving our kids timeless toys that function in multiple ways, we encourage them to learn different ways they can use the toy. By thinking creatively about the tools they’re using, we encourage them to also think creatively elsewhere in their lives.
Decluttering, organizing the play space and investing in multipurpose toys are activities that will help your toddler improve their attention and concentration. A steady attention span is at the heart of play-based learning and learning through play is an essential part of your toddler’s development.