When anyone is trying to learn something new, distractions work against the process.  For example, have you ever tried to learn a new computer program and people won't stop talking or asking you questions? If you are like most people, you probably will have a hard time learning what you need to until they leave you alone.  If we interrupt a learner's exploration and experimentation by telling the individual he/she is doing a good job or trying to show the individual what he/she can do, we interrupt the learning.

We need to minimize distractions as much as possible for all learners, recognizing that we can probably not eliminate them entirely.  This includes making sure a learner is not hungry, tired, or wet and that the room is not too hot, too cold, too overstimulating, too understimulating. We also need to keep in mind that a learner's tolerance for distractions can vary from day to day or moment to moment. 

We must limit our comments to times when a learner takes a little break from what he/she is doing and is able to pay attention to us. Then we make brief comments pertinent to the learner's activities and keep the language simple.We need to communicate in ways that are meaningful to the child; this includes gestures, vocalizations, tactual signals, signs, symbols and simple words. Remember to keep your comments short and simple, highlighting the most critical ideas.

We also need to use appropriate educational treatments with the learner when we engage in adult-child learning activities. (See the Five Phases of Educational Treatment.)