Learning Skills 101 – Selective Attention
Learning skills are the underlying mental skills formally known as attention, visual/auditory processing, memory, processing, word attack and auditory analysis. Most of our children experience these skills through reading, writing, spelling, paying attention, remembering, recalling and how quick we can respond to a request.
In my last article, I discussed the “attention” learning skill, I cited an example of a student with weak attention skills, specifically, weak divided attention. In our example, this student also displayed weak ability to process more than one item at a time.
Another type of attention is selective attention. Selective attention is the skill that enables us to literally choose what we will pay attention to. We can still take in everything in our visual span but we only “select” one thing at a time to pay attention to. The following is an example of a student with weak selective attention skills.
Mike is a 10th grade student in his local public school district where the number of students in his science classroom is now approaching 28 fellow peers, thanks to school budget issues. The teacher is a bit overworked and underpaid, the students in the class are a good mix of high performers, middle of the road workers and average to slightly below average students. The student population just happens to be mostly young ladies and only a few young men. Mike is the pick of crop according to the young ladies in his class. The few males in the class cling to Mike for dear life to try and survive the uneven balance of gender population. They also see Mike as their leader because he presents so cool and collective. This semester the class is exploring Human Biology.
A typical class scenario in his science class is Mike arrives and the girls swarm to him. The remaining males follow along and hope for some attention. The teacher tries her best to gain control, separate the students and get everyone organized and focused. The teacher begins first with lecture to prep and gain interest in what will be a long “lecture” with visuals on basic genetics and chromosomes. Yawn … is what Mike begins to hear himself think. However, Mike needs this class and a good grade too because he thinks he may pursue science as a career. He knows he cannot afford to drift off and lose track of the discussion. In order to be successful, Mike needs to pull away from his friends, his fellow peers, stop the internal thoughts about the discussion that was just occurring and quiet his overall mind to begin focusing on the teacher.
Mike engages his selective attention and literally blocks out the noise in the classroom. The girls giggling, the guys whispering, the pencils falling, the teacher coughing, the students walking by the room in the hallway are just a few distractions that Mike chooses not to attend to with his focus. Mike’s prefrontal cortex has just kicked into gear. This area of the brain decides what will receive attention, which cognitive resources will be used to analyze the incoming information and which distractions will be eliminated. Lucky for Mike, his selective attention skills are strong and he is able to focus on the teacher speaking, ignore the distractions around himself and his classroom and process the incoming information that will be on the next test. Not many students are as lucky as Mike and find it very difficult to block out distractions.
Try a selective attention test yourself direct from youtube.com. Experience it from two different perspectives. One from being successful and paying attention to what was asked of you and nothing else. Second, from the perspective of weak selective attention and not being able to pay attention to what is being asked of you no matter how hard you try to focus and you understand what you are to pay attention to.
The good news is that the above skill is just one of many that you are able to strengthen due to the brain’s ability to develop and grow. A student doesn’t need to struggle with this weak skill set any longer. The Enhanced Learning Skills System was designed to strengthen learning skills required to learn and read easier and more efficiently. Email me today for an assessment, save 50% off the cost of the assessment and let’s begin working together to help your child learn with ease.
Copyright © Enhanced Learning Skills for Kids 2009
Source by Colleen Bain