Last year I wrote an article for the Teach Nursery Magazine titled ‘Is Everybody Listening?’ Any teacher or practitioner will be able to tell you that basic skills such as listening and attention are crucial for any child’s learning development and education. This is particularly true for children in the early stages of their life when the majority of their learning is through listening to, and using, the spoken word: up to 80% of a child’s learning in the early years of life is verbal. Therefore it stands to reason that a child with poor listening and attention skills is going to be at an extreme disadvantage in the classroom. Alongside listening and attention goes persistence: if a child struggles to attend to an activity, they will soon give up, failing to explore the toy or activities’ full potential and the opportunity to learn through this.
Children don’t instantly develop good listening and attention skills, they go through a process of development, building upon each stage as they grow and explore their world with the help of supportive adults. In the 1970s, Joan Reynell defined the different stages of the development of attention children go through form birth to the age of five. If children don’t successfully progress through these stages, they will not develop these skills, and this can impact on all aspects of their life and ablility to learn.
New research from Oregon State University has now shown that the key to academic success is the level of attention and persistence at the age of four. Dr Megan McClelland, an OSU early child development researcher and lead author of the study said “Our study shows that the biggest predictor of college completion wasn’t math or reading skills, but whether or not they were able to pay attention and finish tasks at age 4.”
It seems that the greatest gifts we can give our children are often the simplest ones!
If you would like to read my article ‘Is Everybody Listening?’, then please click here to download the PDF.