Tips for Getting Your Child Excited about Learning?

Attention spans today are nearly 100 seconds shorter than they were 20 years ago! Bottom line: adults must help kids rebuild their attention spans.

Tips for Getting Your Child Excited about Learning?

What is SEO and how to do it?

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The 3 most important things on a SEO strategy

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On Page SEO: Optimize your Website

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Off Page SEO: Link Building Strategy

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Wrapping up the article

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You’ve heard it before… the digital world is full of distractions. As adults, we can try to avoid these distractions by focusing on more important tasks (e.g., meeting that EOD deadline, feeding the dog, and beating the daily traffic in the school pick-up line). But it’s still really hard to avoid doom-scrolling or getting sucked into the latest Housewives drama.

 So… if avoiding distractions is a challenge for our fully-developed adult brains, imagine how tempting digital media can be for our kids! Unfortunately, technology can seriously impact kids’ ability to focus on one task, and in turn, make learning harder.

Ok, now that we’ve fully freaked you out (our b!), here’s the good news: you have the power to promote healthy engagement in your child’s learning, and we’re here to show you how.  🧠💪

After reading, you will have a better understanding of:

  • Kids’ Attention Spans – what’s the problem, and what’s causing the problem?
  • Healthy Engagement – what is it, how can we increase it, and why does it matter?
  • Personalized Learning – how can it promote healthy engagement?

The Power of Attention

First things first, we need to understand:

  1. How Attention Spans Have Changed
  2. The Reasons: What Trends are Negatively Impacting Attention Spans

The Problem: The Decline in Attention Spans 

Studies show that kids' average attention span has significantly decreased over the past 20 years. 

Check out these alarming stats from the American Psychological Association (APA): 

Year Average Time Spent on One Digital Task
2004 150 seconds
2012 75 seconds
2020 47 seconds

From 2004 to 2012, the average attention span decreased by 50%! Then from 2012 to 2020, the average attention span was almost again cut in half! As a result, attention spans today are nearly 100 seconds shorter than they were 20 years ago!

Bottom line: adults must help kids rebuild their attention spans.

The Reasons

Attention spans are declining in kids and adults. While the contributing factors might be more obvious in adults’ lives, it’s important to remember that kids model their behavior after trusted adults. So any action you take around your kid actually impacts them too. 

The trends behind the decline in attention spans can be boiled down to  three main reasons:

1) Reliance on (or addiction to) Technology

In today’s world, there are hardly any activities that do not require, or are at least aided by, technology. Not sure what direction that coffee shop is in? Open Google Maps. Need a reminder on what temperature chicken is fully cooked? Ask Siri. And so it goes for hundreds of tasks you complete a day.

And you know who is watching you whip out your phones countless times a day for hundreds of tasks? Your kids. They are learning how important technology is to you, and so they want to use it too. 

Kids’ dependence on technology increases especially when they watch programs that are targeting their short attention spans. Shows like CocoMelon, whose creators intentionally incorporate features that make kids crave more of the show, have a terrible impact on kids’ ability to focus. 

CocoMelon uses bright colors, fast-paced music, and short screen clips of 1-2 seconds, which spike dopamine, a hormone that makes you feel pleasure. When kids’ brains are exposed to this dopamine spike, they want more of the feeling, and so they will want to watch more and more episodes. They will also feel withdrawal symptoms when it’s time to turn off the show. 

CocoMelon’s data-driven approach to developing content has been a huge part of its success, making it the second most viewed YouTube channel of all time with over 172 BILLION views as of December 2023.

In other words: shows like CocoMelon can make your kid addicted to technology AND potentially lead to tantrums when you turn it off. Need we say more?

2) Social Pressure and Multitasking

Adults use devices to keep up with their work and social lives. For working hours, most of us are glued to our computers, and unless you are the rare person who only talks to your next door neighbors, you also need technology to stay in touch with your friends and family. Again, kids watch their adults’ relationship with technology and model that behavior.

The societal pressure to multitask is also negatively impacting our attention spans. We might think that tackling a few things at once will be efficient, but multitasking actually makes us more distractible and likely to make errors. Multitasking is a bad idea for adults, and doing it around kids can teach them behaviors that will shorten their attention spans as well.

3) Increasing Flow of Information

We are surrounded by never ending notifications and a constant influx of information. Your kids process this mass of information too, which can have a negative impact on their developing brains.

Again, with CocoMelon (sorry not sorry), the fast-paced transitions from scene to scene teach kids to redirect their focus from one topic to the next in a matter of seconds. This might be entertaining for your kids (and drive more views of CocoMelon content on YouTube), but it is hurting their attention spans.

The Power of Healthy Engagement

Ok, enough with the scary stuff. Here’s the solution! Healthy engagement. 

Healthy engagement increases kids’ ability to stay involved in one task.

When kids are healthily engaged in learning, they:

1)  Have More Fun 🤸

The feeling of being fully engaged in an activity will spark more joy for your child. They might have thought they were enjoying themselves with the dopamine spike from CocoMelon, but involving themselves in a real-life activity will be more fun because they are playing an active role instead of a passive one.

Having fun when learning will also help kids retain information better! Ever wonder why your kid knows every stat on their favorite NBA team’s roster or every lyric to the latest Taylor Swift single? Their brains prominently store data they enjoy learning. By actively engaging in learning activities, they will have fun and end up retaining this information better as well.

2) Build More Confidence 💪 in their abilities

Students engaged in their learning are 2.5 times more likely to say that they are confident in the skill they are focussing on. The same study reports that students are 4.5 times more likely to report feeling hopeful about their future careers. 

3) Want to Learn More 🤓

Healthy engagement encourages kids to want to keep learning because they are associating learning with having fun and building confidence! Who wouldn't want more of that??!

How to Promote Healthy Engagement

Here are three ways you can promote healthy engagement in your kid’s learning:

1. Interactive Learning

Kids “learn by doing” so the more you can incorporate hands-on projects into your child’s learning, the more likely your child will be engaged in the activity and actually learn from it.  

The average number of minutes a child can focus on one activity is 3 times their age (so a 3 year old child can focus for 9 minutes on average, and a 7 year old child can focus for 21 minutes on average). This number of minutes a kid stays engaged in a task skyrockets when they get involved in  hands-on projects. 

Hands-on projects require kids to actively participate in many steps of a process. For example, playing with LEGOs can be a good hands-on activity for kids because they use their imagination to build, and they can focus on building different structures to keep their minds stimulated. 

2. Routines 

Routines are so important for the development of your child’s social-emotional skills, and particularly in building their engagement. Since routines generally stay consistent, kids can learn each step of the process, which requires their full attention. As they master the routine, they will also build independence, which is essential to their social-emotional growth. 

3. Cater to Your Child’s Interests

To really engage your child in their learning, it is extremely important to consider their interests. Different topics and activities excite different children, so keep your child’s unique interests in mind when designing a learning activity. 

For example, when looking for books to check out at the library, pick ones that have topics that excite your child. Or better yet, let your child decide what books they want to read. Choice is very effective in empowering your child and inviting them to take ownership of their learning. The beauty of AI is that it’s now easier to create stories with your child - enabling co-creation is one of the reasons Nookly was started 😀! 

How to Know Whether Your Child is Engaged in Learning 

You might also wonder whether your child is engaged in their learning when you’re not around. 

Here some signs to look for that your child is engaged in learning at school or other spaces where you are not with them:

  • They tell you about topics they are exploring in school 
  • They share, sometimes by blurting out, facts or bits of their learning 
  • They are excited to get into the school building, or other space where learning happens
  • They have meaningful friendships
  • They show signs of independence

The Impact of Personalized Learning

Due to individual personalities, learning styles, and interests, learning is never “one size fits all.” In order for learning to have the biggest impact on your child, it is critical to personalize the experience to your child. 

Personalized learning has the power to further excite and engage your child in their learning. 

Personalized Stories

Stories can be a great way to engage your child in their learning. Stories can help your child develop their social-emotional toolbox. For more on the power of social stories, check out this article.

You can make reading a story with your child an active learning experience by:

  • Asking your child questions as you read
  • Giving the opportunity for your child to ask questions
  • Relating back to moments in the story outside of storytime

You can further increase your child’s engagement in a story by selecting stories that they can relate to. One way to do this is to find stories that discuss topics that interest your child. 

Another way to engage your child in reading is to find stories whose main characters are similar to them. In fact, studies show that stories most effectively teach a skill when the main character looks like the child reading the story.

However, finding a story that discusses a topic your child likes and/or has a main character that looks like them can sometimes be tricky. 

By using Nookly’s story-generator, you can create a story for your child that is personalized to them!

All you have to do is log into Nookly and:

  1. Enter a learning goal
  2. Review the storyline we draft for you
  3. Play the story generated by our AI

While the digital media is sometimes our biggest frenemy, it’s important for adults to take an active role in supporting a child’s development by promoting healthy engagement in learning. 

We hope this post gave you some valuable tips on how you can accomplish this, and how Nookly can help along the way.