To say our lives are bombarded by distractions is an understatement. And it’s as true for kids as it is for adults—perhaps, even more so.
Smartphones. Voice-activated devices. Zoom meetings. If you thought you weren’t bombarded by digital communications before the pandemic, then you probably feel quite differently now. But while adults have learned to adjust to socially distanced communications, it’s different for kids. Because for many of them, digital communication is what they’re increasingly coming to know.
Except it can have disastrous effects. Recent studies have shown that there’s a distinct association between screen time and developmental delays, including attention spans. And distance learning is quickly becoming the new standard, with 93 percent of American households with school-age children reporting online learning has replaced physical learning during the pandemic. What’s a parent to do?
A Space is a Place to Learn
Don’t underestimate the value of physical space when it comes to learning. You might already have a schedule that allows for remote work, but children are still learning how to associate physical space with routine. Creating a specific location where they can learn, read and create makes a distinct impression on both child and adult cognitive functions and encourages habit and routine.
Be Flexible with Expectations
While it’s necessary for children to meet general scholastic standards, online learning doesn’t always align with your child’s own temperament or pace. They can sometimes lag behind as a result; and teachers don’t necessarily gauge their development accurately. Coming up with your own personal expectations of your child can complement their official curricula, allowing for a much more balanced and personalized approach to learning.
The Value of Sleep
Many adults are already facing a growing and critical health problem when it comes to managing their sleep. But poor sleep doesn’t just affect a child’s productivity. It has a direct correlation with diminished memory and emotional control, cognitive function, and severely lowered attention spans lasting well beyond adolescence. Kids between three- and five-years-old need approximately 10 to 13 hours of sleep, while children aged six and thirteen should be getting 9 to 11 hours (adolescents typically don’t need much more than ten.) Encouraging the optimal amount of sleep at the optimal time can be crucial to reducing inattention as a result of increased screen time.
Balance Learning with Their Interests
A structured approach to learning is fundamental to both scholastic achievement and your child’s development. But their personal interests can reveal more to you than any standardized evaluation.
Children engage with learning in distinct ways. Some may be visually oriented and have a greater inclination towards creativity, while some can seem downright analytical. But learning doesn’t have to be a chore for your kids. You can transform their learning experience by including their outside hobbies and interests to help illustrate key points, making learning applicable to their daily lives and not just during a few hours set aside each day. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the subjects they’re facing difficulty with; but you can help bolster their confidence by ensuring that even the most seemingly boring of topics can be fun, approachable, and meaningful to their daily lives.