When a child has trouble focusing, it can be a long term or a short-term challenge. It is the teacher who first notices when a child has trouble paying attention in class and generally seems more easily distracted than other kids. But not all attention problems are ADHD. (ADHD is Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder is a common neurodevelopmental disorder and it needs to be diagnosed by a professional.)
There are other conditions that may cause attention problems. Since attention problems are widely associated with ADHD, that’s the first thing that teachers, parents and clinicians associate the symptom with. It’s important to rule out possibilities or a child may get misdiagnosed with ADHD and get the wrong treatment.
Other possible reasons for attention problems
Anxiety and worry can occur for a variety of reasons for young children. Anxiety tends to ‘lock up the brain’ making school hard for kids, says a teacher, Ken Schuster. Some children may be dealing with separation anxiety. They may be so preoccupied worrying about being away from their parents that concentrating could be hard for them.
Some kids worry about making a mistake in front of other kids. They try to disappear when called upon or they may pretend to be doing something when they are not. It’s just a coping mechanism to break away from what’s making them feel anxious.
Some kids struggle with perfectionism, trying to do things exactly the right way. They may refuse to turn in their work because they think it’s not good enough.
Obsessive- compulsive disorder:
Kids with OCD may be distracted with obsessive thoughts and hence not able to pay attention to the teacher. He could be compulsively counting in his head or lining things up on his desk. Or he may be thinking about his need to get to the toilet to wash his hands. Says Jerry Bubrick, PhD, a clinical psychologist, ‘’When a child does not know the answer to the question, it looks like he wasn’t paying attention, but it’s really because he was obsessing.
Stress or trauma
Kids who are affected by trauma may seem like they have attention problems. Kids exposed to violence or other disturbing experiences may display attention problems. These kids can have a persistent sense of insecurity called hypervigilance.
When Kids take time to find the pages of the book they are supposed to be reading, a possible cause of persistent behavior like this would be a learning disorder. Kids might fidget or feel frustrated when they can’t seem to keep up with other kids. Kids with undiagnosed dyslexia find ways to avoid doing an assignment or think about something else.
There are other issues as well like Auditory processing problems, which results in the child not being able to grasp what the teacher is saying. This could be perceived by the teacher as inattentive.
But there are ways to help kids out through their distractions. Experts have suggested some cognitive interventions that could help build their attention span and overall cognitive growth.
Recent studies have offered the possibility of cognitive enhancement. These studies state that with focused training in any of the arts (dance, music, theatre), significantly enhances the cognitive levels, by strengthening the brain’s attention systems. This link between training the brain and enhancement of cognitive levels has been reported in several studies such as the one presented in May 2009 at the John Hopkins University during a neuroeducation summit.
The system of neural networks dedicated to attention can be improved through focused training. There is an understanding that training of neural networks can improve general intelligence. Scientists are certain that working on the arts and training your brain intentionally can significantly help with attention spans.
This theory is based on the fact that behavior impacts brain networks, which essentially means daily routines get reflected in the wiring of the brain and the efficiency of its networks. This fact is more evident in the attention networks.
People who engage in an art and stay consistent in its pursuit will experience growth in cognitive areas especially where being attentive is crucial, like recall and learning.
The earliest test on the relationship between art and cognition was the ‘’Mozart effect.’’ Recent studies have focused on longer periods of training in the arts and its impact on attention. The gist of it is that ‘’Sustained focus can build more efficient neural networks; this is turn improves general cognitive skills.’’
Music can have a positive impact on attention
Several studies have shown that music interventions could have a positive impact on attention. Experts have proposed that because music has therapeutic factors, it can play a significant part in enhancing attention. The reasoning behind this, the dynamics of rhythm, harmony and melody provide the necessary stimuli required for improving attention. Another interesting study found a connection between music training on non-musical cognitive function. Example Schellenberg(2004) found enhanced IQ after one year of keyboard or voice lessons. In another experiment it was found that 18 months of training in classic musicals improved cognitive functions. The study also found improvement in reading precision, concentration abilities, processing speed and general intelligence. (Barbaroux et al. 2019).
According to Dr Lombardo, ‘’Music therapy improves attention and focus, lowers hyperactivity, and improves social skills in children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).” Solid scientific evidence proves that passion for a certain art form can lead to improvement in attention spans when consistently practicing that art
Scientists have suggested dancing as a combined intervention has both physical and cognitive impact on the individual. It has been proven that the runner’s high and yogi’s tranquility has a significant influence on the brain. In fact, specific physical activities can alter the brain in precise ways. This research can act as a strong motivator to stay active. If the right physical activity is chosen, then it can help prepare for mental challenges like exams, interviews or other creative projects. Besides improving memory, studies have shown that dance plays a role in improving attention spans as well. Studies on a group of school children in the US depicted that those children exposed to physical activity for prolonged periods improved attention spans, became better at multitasking and ignoring background noise.
The Dance Premier League at Learner Circle is a platform to showcase young talent. Check it out for details.
Creating any kind of visual art has numerous benefits. It helps with creativity, mental health and cognitive health. In 2014, a study published by PLOS One, showed that the act of creating improves overall cognitive function. It also leads to more psychological resilience in adulthood. As Dr. Posner explained in a 2009 article for The Dana Foundation, art has a great impact on neural pathways specifically connected to attention. So, indulging in activities that focus on learning or performing an art – especially if practiced regularly can have a positive impact on attention spans in big ways.
Learner Circle is all set to offer various art courses that can significantly improve cognitive skills. We have online courses on music, dance and sketching. Our courses are paced at easy levels to facilitate progress of the student. We are committed to be partners in a journey of infinite learning. We are here to help children pursue their passion to become responsible citizens and outstanding leaders in their chosen field. We understand that every child is different. Therefore, we offer a diverse range of courses to suit the learning pathways of different children. Our courses like art, music, singing, dance , abacus, coding and sketching focus on cognitive skills and overall development of the child. If you want to know more about any of our courses, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our contact details are on the website.
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