The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Child Sustained Attention in Young Children: Differences in 2s, 3s & 4-Year-Old Children

Cynthia F. DiCarlo, Louisiana State University (United States)

Carrie Ota, Weber State University (United States)

Aaron R. Deris, Minnesota State University, Mankato (United States)


Child Sustained Attention in Young Children: Differences in 2s, 3s & 4-Year-Old Children

This presentation will review results of three research studies on child sustained attention in young children. For the purposes of these research studies, sustained attention was defined as attention given to toy materials in the absence of adult prompting during the child’s play. The purpose of this study was to identify differences in the length of attention young children, ages 2, 3, and 4-years old, across three teaching conditions of child choice, adult choice, and adult presentation. The child’s regular classroom teacher was asked to select three highly preferred toys to use in offering each child choices within the teaching conditions of adult presentation (one toy) and adult choice (two toys); the child was given the instruction to “go play” during the child choice condition and could select from any material in the classroom. Results varied across the different age groups.  This research highlights the difference in children’s development and the need to adapt teaching conditions according to children’s ages; however, these results also stress the importance of all children having a highly skilled teacher who has knowledge of child development and an understanding of individual child preferences.

Keywords: child attention, toy play, toddlers, preschoolers, learning context, child choice


DiCarlo, C.F., Baumgartner, J., Ota, C., & Geary, K. (2016). Child sustained attention in preschool-aged children. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 30(2), 143-152.

DiCarlo, C., Ota, C., Bankston, J., & Dahl, A. (2022). Child-sustained attention in two-year-olds. Early Childhood Education Journal.


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