Stretching an Attention Span

A two year old’s attention span is mere minutes long when focused on a single task…if that. Belle switches between activities faster than I can clean up after her. So how do I practice longer tasks with her?

1. Break it into shorter tasks. In the kitchen, Belle can complete a 45 minute recipe because it only takes 2-3 minutes to scoop flour out, or 1 minute to unwrap the stick of butter, or 2 minutes of watching the stand mixer mix before we move on.

2. Engage in conversation. With open-ended questions (“what do we add next?”), I can elicit kitchen vocabulary. I can describe how I know things are properly blended for early observational demonstrations, and ask about it to check understanding and recall.

3. Involve multiple senses. We taste test like all good chefs to make sure we know what ingredients taste like separate and together. We turn the oven light on to see if the cookies are done, and smell spices to decide if they are “yum or yuck.”

With practice, Belle is becoming better at recognizing the small changes that mark progress from raw to cooked, and her patience is growing – at least in the kitchen!

Recipes that work on attention span: