Sit Still, Pay Attention and Look at Me: Understanding the Developing Attention Skills of Children – Dr. Becky Bailey

Educators increansingly report children with limited abilities to attend, self-regulate, tolerate frustration, and delay gratification. Often both adults and children struggle with skill of conscious, mindful attention. We frequently resort to demanding a child’s attention (sit still and look at me!) or fall into the belief that if we get children to sit still and pay attention in circle time for 10 minutes when they are 2 years old, they will be prepared for a 20-minute circle at age 4. Attention is a complex skill that does not develop through stamina training. This session covered how attention develops in our social brain.


Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change its structure, circuits, chemical composition and function in response to changing environments. Where we place our attention literally alters the structures of our brains.

  • Average focused attention span in 2000 = eight seconds.
  • Average focused attention span in 2013 = four seconds.
  • Attention = Attend, distract, refocus

Attention is a whole brain/body/mind activity; it is not stamina training.


Noticing and downloading calm or excitement.

Assertive adult – Focus o what you want and use a tone of no doubt.

Rhythm and routines in pictures – Music and movement with pictures/visuals books showing what to do and what to expect.

Composed adult – Model and teach children how to breathe and relax.

Safety job description, language, intention and sensory diet.



Joint attention: The ability to share a commmon focus on something (people, objects, concept, event, etc.) with someone else. It involves the ability to gain, maintain and shift attention.

  1. Orienting and attending to a social partner
  2. Shifting eye gaze between people and an object
  3. Sharing emotional states with another person
  4. Following the gaze and point of another person
  5. Being able to draw another person’s attention to objects or events to share



Describe emotional signals (“Your face is going like this”)

Name the feeling communicated. (“You seem _______ .”)

Acknowledge the child’s desire with positive intent. (“You wanted _______ .”) or “You were hoping ________ .”)



Regulating and developing the executive system for optimal attention requires:

  • Conscious awareness of triggers
  • Intentional goal setting and commitments
  • Maximizing play’s ability to override biology: Play extends attention span
  • Utilizing social play, dramatic play, all play: Play is not just to give the brain a break, it develops attention
  • Noticing instead of judging: Talk out loud
  • Balancing novelty and routine
  • Keeping realistic expectations: Attention span is equal to age: Two-year-old = two minutes, 20-year-old/adult = 20 minutes
  • Using interest and relevancy



Exercise, drink more fluids, get rid of clutter and do one thing at time (multi – tasking is the enemy of attention). Focus on what you want and what is most important to you.

Estrategias educativas para estudiantes que están aprendiendo inglés – Dr. Anarella Cellitti

La clase debe ser:

  • Entendible para todos.
  • Variada en métodos y materiales.
  • Interesante.
  • Fácil para aprender idioma y sus contenidos.

Clima del salón:

Se corrige el contenido, no el vocabulario.

  • Aceptación , libre de juicios.
  • Participación.
  • Motivación.

Puntos clave:

  • Comprensión de contenidos.
  • Utilizar señales no verbales y de contexto para proporcionar significado en la instrucción (fotografías, mapas, demostraciones)
  • Dividir la clase en trozos más pequeños de información con revisiones frecuentes de comprensión, en lugar de clases largas con sólo revisión al final.
  • Pre-enseñar los conocimientos básicos/ vocabulario o conceptos clave que los estudiantes necesitarán para cada unidad antes de seguir adelante (indicar palabras de estudio a la familia antes de verlo en el colegio).
  • Hacer un banco de vocabulario con fotografías.

Participación en clases:

  • Mientras más práctica se realiza en el idioma más se arraiga.
  • Utilizar grupos de trabajo pequeño.
  • Los ELL (English Language Learners) tienden a hablar más si el ambiente social es más pequeño. Darle un ambiente seguro.
  • Considerar diferentes estilos de aprendizaje

¿Cómo ayudar a fomentar vocabulario?

  • Bancos de palabras
  • Crucigramas
  • Diccionarios bilingües
  • Subrayado de palabras nuevas
  • Palabras nuevas en contexto
  • Palabras de alta frecuencia


  • Usar audiovisuales
  • Proporcionar materiales escritos previos a la clase
  • Permitir el uso de diccionarios

Integración curricular:

Dar temas que le gusten o interesen al niño:

  • Artes visuales
  • Estudios sociales: conversaciones, lecturas, tradiciones, bailes, escrituras, culturas
  • Música/ danza
  • Tecnología: producción de invitaciones, videos
  • Literatura

También los niños necesitan:

  • Aprobación
  • Sentido de pertenencia
  • Identidad cultural
  • Conocimiento social



Oral language plus social skills equals a recipe for success with dual language learners. Karen Nemeth/Kathleen Hayes/Emily Roden

Making children read is not enough. They must speak and reflect about them. Frequently, parents are encouraged to read to their kids, but they are not taught how to do it.

Conversation works because…

  • Children practice using words, not just hearing or repeating them.
  • Conversation combines key ingredients of language and literacy with social skills in natural ways.
  • Breaking language down to isolated skills is not as effective.
  • Phonological awareness in home language easily transfers to English.

Children learn language patterns from people. Television does not have the same impact and effectiveness.


  • Use family pictures.
  • Increase vocabulary with visuals.
  • After reading a story, talk about it. Make pauses while reading and ask questions that generates discussion.
  • It is important that family members play together to elicit language.
  • Increase language production through the interaction with peers.
  • Use rhymes and language patterns, since our brain learn them easily.