Three Hours, Really?

The other day my mom was telling me about a co-worker who’s preschool age daughter was recently tested for ADHD at her teacher’s suggestion. The teacher told the mother that her daughter couldn’t concentrate, would frequently run around the room, and disturb other children. It sounds like there may be some problem, right?

Here’s the kicker: The daughter wouldn’t sit and pay attention through their circle times that last 1 hour three times a day!

My response was, really? A child might have ADHD because they can’t sit still for an hour while a teacher reviews, in a group, the alphabet and numbers?

There’s a difference between a 3-hour work period where a child can freely move about the room engaging in work that interests them and having to sit down for an hour.

It reminds me what my child development professor said, The average attention span for an adult is 20 minutes.” I’ve always kept that in mind when working with children. If an adult struggles to remain interested while being lectured for over 20 minutes, then how can we ask a child to do more?

When I taught at a Montessori school (3-6) our circle times were limited to 20 minutes and that usually included walking the line, singing songs, a brief lesson, and an interactive activity. If I tried to have the children sit for 20 minutes and listen to me talk with little interaction on their part I could definitely expect some disruptions.

An hour seems entirely to long for me…what do you think?

2 comments… add one

  • Leslie April 8, 2011, 5:13 pm

    I’m totally with you! That 20 minutes for an ADULT is a good reminder. Sometimes I get to excited about a topic and go on too long… Thanks for the post!

  • Charissa Jacobson July 11, 2011, 11:05 pm

    I totally agree with what you posted here. I recently interviewed at a “Montessori” school in a toddler classroom that did a circle time and was shocked that those little ones were expected to sit still and recite the calendar. That struck me as totally age inappropriate but I have yet to do my training for ages 0-3.

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