Unit 1: Attention Span and Brain Breaks


Learning Targets

The learner will review the basics about attention and attention span in the classroom.

The learner will learn about what brain breaks are and why they are used in the classroom.


"You have the attention span of a goldfish."

The above statement is FALSE! The average attention span is now LESS than the attention span of a goldfish. Recent studies suggest that our non engaged attention span has indeed shortened over the past few years. Researchers say that this decrease is due to the digital world. We are constantly finding ways to keep ourselves occupied. If something is not holding our attention, we will instantly try to find something else to occupy ourselves.


Children's Attention in Class

A child's attention span varies based on many different variables. The child's age plays a large part. Most scientists says the base for the number of minutes a child can maintain focus is approximately 1 minute for every year of the child's life. A 6 year old would be able to focus for 6 minutes. When engaged, this time lengthens by approximately 5- 10 minutes. Meaning the average 6 year old can maintain focus for about 10- 15 minutes. This becomes an issue when the task at hand or the length of the lesson is longer than 5 - 10 minutes, which is most cases, they are.

Ways to Increase Attention Span

1. Include Physical Activity

Students should be given time to do a physical activity before starting a challenging task. Physical activity helps a child to stay focused and breaks up the learning time in the classroom.

2. Have "Attention Breaks"

Before you can give a child an "attention break." The child needs to learn what attention looks like. When its time for an attention break, first have the student reflect whether or not they were paying attention in the first place. By teaching the child what attention looks like and feels like, they can train their brain to maintain focus.

3. Adjust Time Frames

Break the content into smaller time intervals. This helps students to not feel overwhelmed and enables them to focus on the small task at hand.

4. Remove Visual Distractions

Remove any unnecessary clutter. The less clutter the less opportunity the child has to be distracted.

What are brain breaks?

Brain breaks are short activities that give your brain a break. They mostly involve some form of physical activity or movement so that a child can take a short break from learning. The brain break can last anywhere between 30 second to 5 minutes, depending upon the break chosen.

Why Brain Breaks?

In the classroom, brain breaks break up the instructional time in the classroom. It also increases the amount of time a student is engaged in the classroom. If a child has "checked out" after 15 minutes, then that student is only get 15 minutes worth of information. If a child works for 15, has a break, then works for 15 more minutes. The brain break has just doubled the amount of time that a child is engaged in learning.


Activity #1: Keep a Log

Log how many times in a day you take a "brain break":

1. take out and check your phone

2. change the channel on T.V or radio station

3. check social media

4. anytime you notice you have lost your ability to remain attentive



After your personal brain break, were you able to go back to what you were working on?

Did you work for a longer period of time?

Did you feel more focused afterwards?


Back to Portfolio

Unit 2: Types of Brain Breaks


Behavior Management Important Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2015, from http://readwriteact.org/files/2014/07/BehaviorManagement-ImportantFacts.pdf

Reeves, D. (2015, July 10). 7 Ways to Increase a Student's Attention Span. Retrieved December 10, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/7-ways-increase-students-attention-span

Statistic Brain. (2015, April 2). Retrieved December 11, 2015, from http://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics/