The maximum concentration time for children according to their age
Attention is a fundamental mental capacity for survival by allowing us to attend to various environmental stimuli. The human being is capable of fixing it on specific stimuli for more or less prolonged periods of time, so that he can capture the information relevant to that stimulation with greater precision and extract the maximum possible data from it.
But the period we can devote to paying attention to something is not always the same , but depends on the state of development of the brain. The fact is that the different mental faculties develop and expand throughout growth, as happens with concentration.
In this article we will see approximately what is the maximum concentration time of children according to their age , in children up to eight years old.
Attention and concentration
Attention is, as we have said, a basic and essential capacity since it makes it possible to focus cognitive resources on external stimulation and to activate the organism to act accordingly to this. It is the ability to direct, maintain or move the consciousness towards one or a group of stimuli.
There are numerous aspects that can be explored regarding the concept of attention, since it includes a great variety of different aspects and processes such as the capacity of alertness and activation or orientation towards stimuli . Among these different aspects we can find concentration.
Concentration is understood as the aspect of attention dedicated to keeping the attention fixed on a specific stimulus, ignoring the existence of distractors (other possible stimuli that could interfere with the focused element). We are therefore faced with the capacity to fix the individual’s attention in a sustained manner.
Concentrating on something allows us to be able to visualise and obtain as much information as possible regarding the element in question and the application of our voluntary cognitive resources in the service of contemplating, understanding, processing or working on the stimulus in question. In this way, we can study something or remain performing a specific activity for more or less long periods of time.
Evolution of concentration in the child: maximum times according to age
The ability to concentrate is not something that remains unchanged. There can be different types of elements that make a certain person able to remain more or less time pending a stimulation.
Strong distractions, the existence or absence of motivation, the emotional bond with the stimulus in question or the degree of novelty or routine that it involves are all elements to be taken into account. But apart from this, the maximum capacity of concentration varies throughout life , whether due to evolutionary development or environmental or acquired aspects.
As far as development is concerned, in order to be able to concentrate, our brain needs to have reached an appropriate level of maturity. Throughout our childhood the brain continues to grow and develop , gradually allowing the different cognitive capacities to appear and expand. In this way, little by little the time a child is able to focus attention on something will vary and grow as his or her brain develops. The ability to focus tends to increase by three to five minutes per year of age until stabilization in adulthood.
Here is an estimate of how long children up to the age of eight can maintain their concentration. These times establish an average interval , as each person develops at his or her own pace and there may be subjects who can perform better or worse when it comes to concentration.
1. First year of life
It is estimated that throughout the first year of life, a baby’s ability to concentrate can gradually grow until it can be maintained for two to five minutes. At this age, children do not stop observing everything and change their focus quickly , and cannot concentrate for more than a few minutes.
2. Second year of life
In the second year of life, children continue to develop their ability to concentrate, almost doubling the time from the previous year. In this way, they can maintain it for between four and eight or even ten minutes .
3. Third year of life
At three years of age, the ability to concentrate can reach a quarter of an hour, and it is common for it to reach or exceed ten minutes. Until this age, concentration is maintained practically while the subject to be treated causes them real interest, generally losing it in the presence of distracting stimuli. Voluntary attention would start to emerge and be trained from the age of three or four.
4. Fourth year of life
From this age onwards, attention span can increase up to twenty minutes, although even children whose capacity is around eight minutes will enter the average.
5. Fifth year of life
Studies show that during the fifth year of life the concentration can be maintained between approximately ten and twenty-five minutes .
6. Sixth year of life
Concentrating on six years of age is possible, specifically between twelve and thirty minutes due to the greater evolutionary development of the brain.
7. Seventh year of life
Children with seven years of age have an attention and concentration capacity that is estimated to last on average between twelve and thirty-five minutes .
8. Eighth year of life
At eight years of age, it has been observed that most of the population can focus their attention between sixteen and forty minutes of time .
Factors to consider from the approximate data
The data previously reflected make us see in an approximate way (remember that each child will have his own pace of maturation, so that the above data are only an average of what would be expected) the capacity of attention that infants may have throughout their developmental period.
This can serve as a reference when establishing different educational guidelines and not overly demanding from the minors an attention that they may not yet be able to give because they need more brain maturation. In this way, breaks or changes in activity can be established that break the focus of attention and refer it to another aspect or activity (whether or not it is focused on the same subject).
For example, during a class the teacher can expose a topic and then have them do exercises, so that the attention shifts from the exposure to the activity. The capacity of concentration, in this sense, would allow a more or less adequate follow-up according to the age of the subject.
It should be noted, however, that the above times refer to sustained attention or continuous concentration on a single element over time, without factors such as emotion or motivation coming into play. Elements that are more interactive and that attract their interest, such as games or movies can be attended to more easily, and this means that the children can concentrate more and for longer on them. This can also be used to encourage learning.
In addition, concentration can be trained with different types of exercises, but care must be taken not to overload or overdemand the children, as this can cause them to feel unmotivated, insecure and decrease their self-esteem.
- Caraballo, A. (n.d.). The concentration time of children according to their age [Online]. Available at: https://www.guiainfantil.com/blog/educacion/aprendizaje/el-tiempo-de-concentracion-de-los-ninos-segun-su-edad/
- Santos, J.L. (2012). Psychopathology. CEDE PIR Preparation Manual, 01. Madrid.