Focus and Attention

Focus and attention vary greatly and are dependent on context—especially in early childhood

child concentrating while playing

What You Need to Know

Preschoolers are increasingly able to sustain their focus and attention on a given task, but they still forget expectations in the moment or lose interest quickly. Sometimes they bounce from one activity to the next or struggle to persist through difficult tasks. To help their capacity to focus and sustain their attention, allow them a choice in what they want to do, follow their lead, modify activities to increase their engagement, and encourage them to look or think a little deeper.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at how you can help children develop their focus and attention through engaging activities

Support Planning

Children will show increased focus and attention when activities allow for flexibility and individualization and are connected to their interests, lives, and experiences.

Encourage Thinking

Gently push children to get involved, think a little deeper, or focus a little longer on a given task. Ask questions or make comments in order to keep them focused and engaged.

Monitor and Support Engagement

During activities, monitor children’s engagement. Provide extra support, such as moving closer to them, to keep them on task.

Building Focus and Attention Through Books

Illustration from the book I Got Rhythm

I Got The Rhythm

I Got The Rhythm, written by Connie Schofield-Morrison and illustrated by Frank Morrison, features a girl who discovers the rhythm throughout her neighborhood. She taps, shakes, and snaps to the rhythms all around her!

Illustration from the book The Curious Garden

The Curious Garden

The Curious Garden, written and illustrated by Peter Brown, is about a little boy who cares for a very unique garden over many years.

Illustration from the book Freedom Soup

Freedom Soup

Freedom Soup, written by Tami Charles and illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara, tells the story of a little girl who helps her grandmother make their family’s special soup. As they cook, the grandmother shares the soup’s history in a very vivid and captivating way.

Activity Cards

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways you can help children focus their attention and persist.
Icons and label for Follow the Leader activity
focusing

Follow the Leader

Children practice paying attention to the leader as well as leading while doing various motions

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Icons and label for Balance Beams activity
focusing

Balance Beams

Children focus on their movement as they balance on blocks or planks

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Icons and label for Mindfulness: Growing Flowers activity
focusing

Mindfulness: Growing Flowers

This mindfulness exercise builds children's capacity to focus and concentrate

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Icon and label for Telephone activity
FOCUSING

Telephone

Children focus their attention while listening to a secret whispered from a peer—and then whispering the secret to another child

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Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of our core social-emotional skills