What is a normal attention span?
The average attention span is known to increase with age. This is so predictable that experts agree on using the following formula to determine what a normal attention span is in a young child:
AGE x (2-5 MINUTES) = AVERAGE ATTENTION SPAN
Here's how that plays out in terms of what is reasonable to expect from our kids:
Age 1: 2 - 5 Minute Attention Span
Age 2: 4 - 10 Minute Attention Span
Age 3: 6 - 15 Minute Attention Span
Age 4: 8 - 20 Minute Attention Span
Age 5: 10 - 25 Minute Attention Span
Age 6: 12 - 30 Minute Attention Span
Note that these are averages, and even these listed timeframes are widely variable. So, what does this mean?
Well, first and foremost, this takes some pressure off of us as parents and educators. Reality Check: no matter what we do, simply allowing our kids to mature along the normal course of development will lengthen their attention spans. So - maybe don't stress too much about this unless your 5 year old can't focus for longer than 2 minutes on anything, ever.
Second, this puts things into perspective for us. As much as we all want to do what's best for our kids and give them all of the advantages we possibly can, it is simply not reasonable for us to expect small children to focus for extended periods of time, even if they're REALLY interested in the task.
Third - and finally - it tells us what to aim for as we move along this path of developing their concentration. And, one of the things I love about Montessori is that it isn't a race. There's no reward for early achievement or penalty for later advancement.
Please take a moment to assess where your child is on this scale and set some reasonable goals for the coming months. And remember, every child is uniquely gifted - our job is to help them discover and develop their gifts, not to make them into what we think they should be. As Einstein said:
EVERYBODY IS A GENIUS BUT IF YOU JUDGE A FISH BY ITS ABILITY TO CLIMB A TREE, IT WILL LIVE ITS WHOLE LIFE BELIEVING THAT IT IS STUPID.