Does your child seem to have a short attention span? Here are some tips that can help you have a more successful homeschool!
Among those who are unfamiliar with homeschooling, there exists a common misconception. This inaccurate assumption is a contributing factor to the reluctance some parents feel toward the notion of homeschooling. Statements often heard by homeschooling parents around the world, such as “I could never homeschool my children” or, “I don’t know how you get your children to do any work, mine would never listen to me”, are a clear indication that most adults hold the view of home educators adhering to a ‘one-size-fits-all’ code of conduct. The prevalent misinterpretation is that the intention of homeschool is literally to mimic a mainstream school environment at home, that each homeschooled child is spending the entirety of their day sitting at a desk, studying fixed topics on an hourly schedule.
The fact is that while some children might respond superbly to structure and thrive on routine, the majority of homeschool families adopt an educational system that is vastly dissimilar to a formal school setting. If you are a homeschool parent, and particularly if you are a parent to a child who lacks the capability to sit still for long periods of time and absorb large doses of information, you might find it more effective to deliver their education in short bursts as opposed to long spiels.
Successful learning can look entirely different from the traditional picture, and for excessively active children this can mean exercising their bodies and brains in a simultaneous manner. Keeping hands busy can help to free their minds. For example, when reading to your child it can beneficial to utilize Lego, Dominoes, a Rubik’s Cube or similar props, in order to keep their fingers agile and minds relaxed.
Perhaps your child prefers to verbally recite multiplications whilst moving around than to practice them with a pen & paper in a seated position. As your child’s primary caregiver and educator, you will already be aware of what they are likely to embrace or rebuff, and it is so crucial to recognize their distinctive nature and use it to benefit both of you. It is a waste of precious time, energy, and resources to attempt to engage your child in something that you absolutely know will not suit their individual learning style.
Educating a child with a shorter than typical attention span has it’s own set of challenges. Sometimes even setting up an activity, whether craft-related or laying out workbooks and reading materials, can result in disheartenment when the anticipation period has thwarted your child’s interest, and just as you’re ready to begin what you’ve planned, they are fatigued from waiting.
Even more challenging is the child with a short attention span who also embodies a need for attention and reassurance. If a child who is constantly in your care refuses to entertain themselves for ten minutes, you can find yourself embroiled in a cycle of starting up a task with them, watching them disengage from the task, and then demand a new task. This can be a very exhausting process, and in this circumstance, it is important to remember that you are acting as an educator and not an entertainer. Boredom should not be regarded as an enemy in the process of homeschooling, because even allowing a child to experience boredom can teach invaluable lessons about creativity, exploration, and play.
Physical exercise and time spent in open space can also be fundamental in the education process. An exploratory woodland walk or a brisk run on the beach can hit the ‘reset’ button of a child who gets restless or distressed in confinement and routine. Some families find a mid-week day dedicated to spending time outdoors can aid in achieving peace and order throughout the days spent indoors.
Taking breaks during each day for a walk outside, or to kick a ball in the yard, can be transformative to a child who is challenged when it comes to focusing and tranquility.
Another important factor to regard is that homeschool does not require a schedule. Even if you find it helpful to set a routine, it is not disastrous if the reality of each day causes divergence. Something neglected in the morning can be revisited later in the day. If your child experiences sudden intrigue in a topic at the least convenient time of day, for example before going to bed, try to embrace this instead of disregarding it – perhaps by inviting them to write it down in order to research it the next morning, or by offering to explain a brief fact about this topic. If they are requesting information without encouragement it is more likely this will be retained by them, than something offered their way when their engagement is not present. Above all, the most vital thing to remember is that doing things in a different way does not mean doing things the wrong way. Your homeschool journey may not be as you had envisioned, and it may still change and evolve as you navigate your way through. This is reflective of growth, and what better way to teach your child who is forever moving and alternating than to demonstrate your ability to do that too.