What do we mean by attention? What does it mean to have learning and attention issues?

Attention is crucial to everything we do. Being aware of our surroundings, listening while others speak, reading, writing, learning and remembering all require our undivided attention. Most of us take this ability for granted, operating under the assumption that it’s a normal human function. In fact, attention is constantly being drawn by thoughts, stimuli, memories and needs, always in competition between coexisting demands.

Because attention is essential for making new memory, fragmented or divided attention can have a negative impact on learning. When focus is scattered between simultaneous stimuli, the brain circuits responsible for coordinating and organizing our thoughts are intermittently activated, resulting in sporadic, patchy learning.

The ability to sustain attention, regardless of one’s interest in the subject matter, is not innate. It is a skill that is naturally learned by some children, but needs to be cultivated and developed in others. ATENTIVmynd™ is a tool for developing all the cognitive skills underlying attention control and inhibition..

What does it look like when a child struggles with attention?

When your child is asked to sit and listen to his teacher speak, he may or may not find the subject matter interesting. The same can be said for studying and homework, which can be tedious or repetitive. Attention is easily drawn by interest, but thwarted by boredom resulting from disinterest. When information is new, exciting or fun, attention is rarely a problem. However, much of what our children are asked to do every day does not meet these criteria. For many kids, their ability to focus on any task is either on or off.

Children who have difficulty maintaining their attention to a task fail to learn and listen. When this is the case, topics of little or no interest seem nearly impossible to complete. Teachers notice these patterns easily, since distraction, daydreaming and restlessness are obvious in the classroom. Parents notice as well, especially when asking their child to perform a task or participate in an activity he finds the least bit boring.

When this “on and off” attention is present, and it becomes clear that your child has great difficulty overcoming the ”interest requirement“ to sustain focus, learning and attention become issues for which help is essential. ATENTIVmynd™ is an evidence-based, fun, engaging way for children to develop the ability to learn to "turn on" their focus when they must. Children learn to play an action video adventure game that is immersive and entertaining using their own attention levels. Your child rapidly learns to activate the “coach” region of his brain, bringing the rest of the players (attention circuits) into control. players into line. Through an ingenious paradox, ATENTIVmynd™ Games use a child’s innate curiosity to create attention control and inhibition cognitive skills, while playing a video game they thoroughly enjoy.

What can I do to help my child focus and pay attention to the best of their ability?

While the ability to pay attention and focus can be related to level of interest, and initially genetics, there are some basic factors within a parent's control that materially affect attention. These variables are neatly summarized by the acronym SEEED, which stands for Sleep, Exercise, Expreience, Environment, and Diet.

When we sleep, our brains clear out the byproducts of a day spent thinking and doing, while recharging stores of important neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Without adequate sleep, our brains will not become completely recharged. Sleep deprivation will lead to lack of focus, he inability to inhibit intereferences and stimuli and low energy.

For adults, the amount of sleep required for optimal brain functioning varies between 6 and 9 hours per night. For children, that number is generally between 8 and 10. Teenagers typically get less sleep during the week when activities and studies keep them up late, without the ability to catch up on needed rest to enable clear attention control and inhibition during the day.

Exercise gets the cardiovascular system pumping, circulating oxygen and nutrients to muscle and brain cells. A wealth of research has shown that exercise improves not only physical, but also mental health. By working their bodies, children experience better mood, less anxiety, improved sleep, and more control over their impulses and attention. When a child sits in classrooms all day, only to come home and watch TV, play video games or study, he will be restless and unfocused. Any physical activity that gets heart and breathing rate raised for at least 30 minutes will have beneficial effects on bringing all cognitive skills to effectively deal with a task.

While sleep and exercise can be measured, environment is characterized by quality rather than quantity. The environment in which your child thrives depends to some extent on his or her unique personality and intellectual characteristics. There are, however, some shared qualities common to all cognitively optimized surroundings.

Having a space in which to work and keep the necessary tools for the task at hand is important. Such a space need not be private, but having the option of quiet and solitude is ideal. Disorder, uncertainty and chaos in the external environment can lead to a scattered and distracted mental space, so minimizing mess and interruptions can maximize focus and attention.

Silence is not always necessary. Some children find listening to music or having some other type of noise in the background helps them to focus. For some minds, the presence of steady, controlled extraneous stimuli actually improves attention on what is pertinent. For others, however, even the slightest sound or sight can be distracting. Most children have some intuitive sense of this, and will gravitate toward background noise or peace and quiet.

Having routine, predictability and structure is key to optimal attention and learning. When a child knows what to expect, the inefficiencies and distractions created by transitions and choices made in the moment are reduced. Not every day has to be the same to create structure, of course.

Additionally, children for whom attention doesn‘t come easily often find learning easier in a classroom environment with fewer people, more individual attention, greater flexibility to pursue their interests, and teachers who are in tune with their learning styles. Although many schools can provide this type of setting, others are unable to provide the focus rich, distraction poor environment in which attention-challenged kids thrive.

Much like exercise, diet can have a strong impact on mental health and functioning just like it effects our physical health. Having a healthy, well-balanced diet helps children to perform at their best. Some specific foods may also make it easier or harder to pay attention. When time is set aside for physical activity, study, eating and sleeping, however, productivity and peace of mind can blossom.

Can I know if my child is improving with ATENTIVmynd™?

There are a myriad of ways in which parents can keep track of their child’s academic performance, but none report the level of a child’s cognitive skills necessary for every day functioning. Grades, teacher reports, test scores and behavioral charts provide some evidence, pointing toward success or failure. Observing a child’s behavior by a parent, professional or teacher can give an indication but not objective measures of how well they sustain listening, comprehend reading, inhibit interferences and stimuli, self-regulate their actions, motivate themselves, delay instant gratification, plan and analyze the tasks to be completed, etc.

ATENTIVmynd™ makes it easy for parents to follow their child’s developing cognitive skills. As game play progresses, improvements in each cognitive skill become evident and visible following each mission of the action video adventure story in Mission Performance Reports (MPRs), which parents can view on their mobile devices, computers or tablets. MPRs allow parents to be involved and informed without being intrusive, as data from the game streams through to visually intuitive, graphic representations of their child’s improving attention and inhibition cognitive skills. These MPRs provide an objective, personalized data analysis that lets parents share in their child’s accelerated cognitive skill development.

Everything begins with attention. ATENTIVmynd™ is a revolutionary game, representing the evolution of evidence-based neuroscience. Through play, your child can develop skills essential for learning. ATENTIVmynd™ is now an essential piece of the attention puzzle. It is the way forward, reaching beyond academic, environmental and genetic factors to accelerate your child’s innate abilities for focus, empowerment and achievement. The future is here.

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