There have been numerous articles saying that the average attention span has been reduced from 12 seconds to a measly 8 seconds. What this basically means is that once we start doing a task, it only takes a few seconds for our minds to wander. Indeed, it doesn’t bode well for students who have so much to accomplish in so little time. Especially those who come from IB schools in Singapore or anywhere with the international schools, being able to keep up with the tasks is imperative.
Although there is much debate on this, what if multi-tasking is key to cope with their workload? Specifically, watching television or jamming to their favourite tunes while they’re studying.
It makes sense that the attention span is getting smaller because everything has become so instantaneous. We’re getting information at such a speed that anything slower than three seconds is too long. But the way we anticipate a television series is an exception – we’re more than willing to wait.
This discipline can be used for studying, and here’s how you can do it with your kids.
Changing your mindset
For this to work, you and your kids must have the right mindset coming in. Relate watching TV with studying. Think of each show as subjects in your school, and each distraction as commercial breaks. When you’re studying, that’s like dedicating time to a show, getting into the nitty gritty of things. Everytime you look at your phone to browse through Facebook, those are commercial breaks you’re forcing your brain to take, and that’s actually time wasted when you can finish your ‘show.’
Follow the Pomodoro Technique
To make studying productive and effective, consider trying out the Pomodoro Technique. This is a time management system which urges you to divide your workday into 25-minute chunks with 5-minute breaks in between. After four Pomodoros, or four 25-minute chunks, you can take longer breaks ﹘ usually 15-20 minutes.
For your kids, it has to be longer because you’re trying to make studying a normal part of their routine. Following the television analogy, you and your kids can focus on one subject for 50 minutes each (this may change depending on how difficult the homework is) and then take a 10-minute break. After working on two to three subjects, your kids can take 30 minutes of break.
The goal is to work your way towards the 50-minute mark. Your kids can start with just the standard 25 minutes so they can get used to the rhythm. Once they’re ready, you can upgrade to 30 minutes, 45-minutes, until they can do 50 minutes.
No more burnouts
The goal is to remove the burnout out of studying. The biggest reason why kids grumble and groan is because homework tends to take so much energy from them. If you try to remember your days as a student, you can relate to that too. So dividing their work time into chunks with intervals in between will help relax their brain so that they won’t feel drowned out with work.
Our behaviour when watching television can be an advantage. The next time you and your kids are doing schoolwork, try out this technique so that studying so much becomes bearable.