4 bite-size study hacks for Primary students with short attention span

With a world of fascinating videos and exciting games just a few taps away, it's no wonder the fight to stay focused during lessons feels like an uphill battle. Not to mention, with social media apps keeping us plugged in 24/7, checking our phones has become second nature. Like breathing - we often do it without a second thought.

Be it in school or at work, our ability to pay attention and absorb new information is essential to achieving good grades and performance.

Here 4 simple steps you can take to boost your child’s attention span and help them get the most out of every lesson and study session.

#1 Get into the flow state

Have you ever been so engaged in a task that you lose track of time? It’s almost like falling into a wormhole. Before you know it, three hours have passed and your lunch is now cold.

According to famous psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the "Flow State" is a distinct mental state in which workers or students find themselves most productive. Staying focused in the flow state feels easy. Solutions and ideas come to you more naturally.

In other words, everything just seems to be “flowing”.

While scientists have yet to crack the code that allows us to activate the flow state at will, here's a list of things you can do to help your child get in the zone. 

Create a conducive study space

Carve out a corner in your home and turn it into a distraction-free study zone. Beyond proper lighting, a sturdy desk, and a comfortable seat, you may wish to turn on some smoothing background music to get that brain juice flowing. 

If your child studies better with music, be sure to check out Geniebook’s Lo-fi playlist

Set clear goals

Part of getting into the flow state is knowing exactly what you’re working on and what you hope to accomplish, within a set period of time. It’s helpful to pick a manageable task and list down the final outcome you wish to achieve.

For bigger tasks, list down the specific steps you need to take to complete the task. Once you’re done with a step, check it off the list before moving onto the next. Having a visual representation of your progress not only gives you a sense of control, but also feelings of accomplishment that help get you into the flow.

Get a good night’s rest

A good rest keeps our brains functioning like a well-oiled machine. When your child gets a good sleep, they grease the cogs and get their mind ready for a new day of studying. But more importantly, a good night’s rest after an intense study session not only recharges their mind, but organises and refines their memories so that they're easier to retrieve.

So instead of pulling an all-nighter, it’s much better to have your child study a few hours before bed and review their study material the next morning.

#2 Make it challenging

Regardless of the number of candles on our birthday cakes, nothing grabs our attention like a challenging game. From the legendary Candy Crush that glued us to our screens to the finger-cramping Flappy Bird that sent the world into a frenzy, both of which achieved global popularity by nailing the right level of difficulty that keeps players going.

Similarly, introducing an element of challenge into your study sessions can go a long way in developing longer periods of sustained attention. For example, instead of simply attempting practice questions with no time limit, encourage your child to challenge themselves by completing the task in a set period of time. From there, they’ll receive a reward (eg. extra 5 minutes of break time) with every new record time.

If you’re looking to give your child that extra boost of motivation, Geniebook’s Bubble Store offers tangible rewards redeemable with digital tokens (bubbles). The tokens are awarded when students complete worksheets and in-class quizzes on Geniebook.

#3 Lean on proven study techniques

Information overload during a study session is as common as rainy weather on a cloudy December. Instead of soaking up every last bit of information with an already weary brain, why not incorporate a few tried-and-true study techniques into your child’s study routine?

Mind-mapping technique

The mind mapping technique allows your child to better organise and remember what they’ve learnt by tapping into the way our brains store and retrieve information. This is especially useful for visual learners.

To start, simply grab a pen and a blank piece of paper. Next, pick a word, place it in the centre of the page, and draw a circle around it. The word should either be a topic or a key concept. After that, get your child to write down relevant major ideas and keywords and connect each one to the central concept with lines. From there, expand on each supporting idea or keyword until your child has penned down everything they could remember.

By laying everything out on paper, the mindmap acts as a visual tool that helps your child connect the dots, see the bigger picture, and deepen their understanding of any topic beyond rote memorisation.

For those feeling a little creative, go ahead and grab a few highlighters to spruce up the mindmap with colour-coded lines that could help with knowledge retention. Remind your child that the mind map is for their eyes only. So feel free to do whatever works for them!

The Feynman technique

Chances are your child aspired to be a teacher at some point in time while growing up. With the Feynman technique, they get the chance to live out their dream!

The Feynman Technique is a learning method that encourages your child to explain a concept in plain and simple terms - just like a teacher! As the wise saying goes, you only truly understand something when you can explain it to a five-year-old. The process of communicating a concept in their own words helps your child to better organise, understand, and synthesise information on a particular subject matter a lot faster.

For a start, we recommend allocating the last 10 to 15 minutes of each study session to practise the Feynman technique. You or an older sibling shall assume the role of a student as your child lives out their teaching dream. Alternatively, get your child to write down the points on a piece of paper and may review them together at a later date.

After your child has delivered the “lesson”, go over what they’ve said or written together. The goal is to identify areas where they got it wrong and revisit the reading material to figure out the right answer. This practice helps to solidify their learning and breach existing knowledge gaps.

#4 Stretch your child’s attention span

Lastly, while the internet has no shortage of useful tips and tricks, devoting time and energy to increasing your child’s attention span is no doubt the best long-term strategy. However, it’s important to do so in an incremental and manageable manner that does not leave your child feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.

For a start, we recommend turning a 1-hour study session into four 15-minute blocks interspersed with 5-minute breaks. After a day or so, increase each block to 20 minutes, with the same 5-minute break. A few days after that, extend each block to 30 minutes, and so on.

Be sure to discuss with your child to figure out a comfortable pace. And when you sense your child’s focus is starting to wane, it’s time to take a break! Afterall, the process of stretching one’s attention span is a long game - so being slow and steady wins the race.

 


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