Although there’s a move to include digital devices in classrooms these days, and some schools are noticing that there’s a benefit to letting kids use tablets and laptops in class, other people are concerned that it’s too easy to get distracted by the many options that are always available with online access. Whether it’s using smartphones for in-class projects or allowing students to access computer spelling games via the internet, if a student can easily click over to another site like Facebook or get a chat or text message from a friend in the middle of the lesson, they’ll find it harder to concentrate on what they need to be learning.
Author and researcher Daniel Goleman is worried that if kids are surrounded by distractions, they won’t develop the ability to focus and concentrate, and that will have a negative impact on how they deal with life issues as adults. In his book Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, he argues that since a child’s brain continues to develop into their early 20s, and since the neural connections that strengthen the ability to focus attention are developed at the same time, if children spend their time “multitasking” they will actually lose the ability to learn to concentrate. A study done in New Zealand in the 1970s linked concentration to self-control, and showed that children with self-control were more successful as adults.
You can help the children in your life develop the skills of focus and attention by paying attention to them. Set aside a technology-free time for study, and make sure that the television and radio are off as well. Even conversations can be a distraction; if you’re standing behind a student while you’re chatting on your cell phone, they won’t be able to focus on the studying they’ve got in front of them. Simply sitting at the same table or in the same room while you’re working on your own quiet project will set a good example, and you’ll also be there to answer any questions. Computer applications and spelling games and exercises are great interactive tools that will help children learn quickly, but supervised use of those games will make them even more effective.
Concentrate on helping your children succeed in spelling, and you’ll help them develop the mental abilities that will focus their attention on achieving their goals in the future.