Development of attention in children:
0-1 years - Fleeting attention
- Attention flits from one thing to another.
- Attention is involuntary and is caught by stimuli.
- E.g. attention shifts from one object / person to another and is easily distracted by a new event occurring e.g. a loud noise.
1-2 years - Rigid attention
- Can attend to a concrete task of child’s own choice.
- Attention is involuntary.
- Ignores external stimuli in order to focus.
- E.g. may concentrate on blocks but will ignore adult intervention both verbal and visual.
2-3 years - Single channelled attention
- Child still cannot attend to other stimuli while focussing on a activity.
- Can shift full attention with adult’s help to the adult.
- Control of the child’s attention lies with the adult.
- E.g. if a child is playing a game, the adult can shift the attention of the child, for example by saying “ look at this” the child will respond and then go back to their game.
3-4 years - Focussing attention
- The child is starting to control their own focus.
- Child can still only focus on one activity at a time.
- Will give full attention to specific activity including both visual and auditory.
- Can focus and refocus their attention by themselves.
- E.g. child can be playing a game will stop when adult speaks, give their full attention to the adult, and then will continue with their game.
4-5 years - Two channelled attention
- Child can focus on an activity but can also listen to what is being said without stopping their activity and looking at the speaker.
- Can focus on a single aspect of a complex situation.
5-6 years - Integrated attention
- Two channel attention is well entrenched and the child can implement it across different situations and people.
- Attention is well established and sustained.
- Child can shut out unwanted and unrelated information and can concentrate only on the necessary features.
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