As a teacher, dealing with students with shortened attention spans can be difficult. Not only does it feel like you need to work harder to keep them on task, but they can act disruptive if they get bored and makes things difficult for the rest of your class. And yet, it’s not impossible to reach students who can’t always pay attention for long, especially when you keep these tips in mind.
Switch In-Class Activities Frequently
Since you can’t expect students with short attention spans to stick to one activity for very long, it helps to have a plan that is made up of several short activities. This is especially helpful when teaching younger students. For example, a kindergarten teacher might need to switch activities every seven minutes to keep students from getting bored. Older students can focus on tasks for longer than that, but you never want to sit and read to students for very long if their attention spans don’t allow it.
Keep Statements Short
If you tend to ramble or put too much detail into your statements, you will need to break that habit if you teach students with short attention spans. You should never assume that your students won’t understand you if you discuss something at length, but they might lose interest if you don’t get to the point quickly. Say what needs to be said without going into too much detail if you want your students to pay more attention to you. If they want to know more later about a certain subject, you can always discuss it after their work is done.
Have Extra Work Available
Many students who struggle with ADD or have short attention spans are high learners and absorb information quickly. In many cases, they act the way they do out of boredom, either because the in-class material is too easy for them or they finish it quickly. If this is the case for your students, have some extra enrichment activities ready to go or adjust your coursework, making it more challenging and interesting.
We know how frustrating it can be to keep students on task when they want to be doing anything else, but you need to be patient with them. They are just as capable of learning and doing their work as other students, perhaps more so. As long as you are patient and pay close attention to them, you can find something that interests them and helps them stay on task.