Developmental Aspects of Sustained Attention among 2- to 6-year-old Children

Miriam Sarid, Zvia Breznitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined sustained attention in children aged 2-6 years in two settings: during free play and during a structured test. Subjects were 48 nursery schoolchildren and 47 kindergarteners. In the free play setting, linear and quadratic relations with age were found for ability to sustain attention as measured by duration of play time and number of attended activities. Linear and quadratic relations were also found for distractibility as measured by the number of pauses in play. Older children tended to return to a previously attended activity following a break, whereas younger children did not. The ability to sustain attention increased until the age of 4 years, after which a plateau in development appeared. Results from the structured test showed no significant differences between age groups on the time spent attending to pictures, but revealed a significant linear trend for the ability to recall items from pictures. It is suggested that free play may be a sensitive measure of preschool-aged children's ability to sustain attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-312
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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