Friday, September 8, 2017

Who is really paying attention?

My son is sitting at the dinner table with a somewhat vacant stare and not answering my questions about his school day. I am not sure what he is thinking about.

At first glance I think he is not paying attention, but later on, he will ask me about something else that I said at dinner. Something that wasn't directed at him, but it grabbed his interest and now he wants to know more.

This has happened enough times that I've had a few talks with him about it. And I don't think it is an attention issue, as I've noticed how he can focus on other tasks: Like playing with his Lego bricks, or reading a book, or building a fort out of cardboard.

So, I struggle with labeling my son as "inattentive." Maybe it is more likely that he has "selective attention."

Those were all the thoughts in my head as I read through this study on inattentiveness having an academic effect later on in life. I have some problems with that study - namely that they never bothered to define what they considered to be inattentiveness. And I wonder if there really are any children who always pay attention when they should be. (I've watched my son's friends as well, and I doubt it.)

On the much more helpful end of the scale are studies like this one on reading and writing at home having a life-long impact. That one seems much more cut and dry with actionable items to follow. IT also seems like one that we could focus on together.

So now what? Well, maybe I remember that my son may be paying more attention to me than I think he is. And, maybe I start asking more interesting questions at the dinner table. Or at the very least, we read and write together more often.

Do you think your child has an adequate attention span? Tell me in the comments.

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