By Renata Finch
“A goat’s in the orchard!” exclaimed my eight-year-old son. I sighed. This wasn’t the first interruption and I could see my carefully planned day dissipating into a hasty scramble to try to get anything achieved on my “to do” list. I once again sent the children out the door to chase these critters back into their enclosure.
There are days when I feel that distraction and interruption are one of my greatest adversaries in the home education of my children. To complete a lesson without the child getting distracted at least once is unlikely. To complete an entire homeschooling day without some kind of interruption is impossible. Ironically, even on those days when plans seem to be going smoothly and without any outside interruption, the most commonplace item such as a wall, the sky, or a window can provide the means of distraction to even the most conscientious child. They can be found at intervals staring intently at said item, oblivious to the math page open in front of them.
When these inevitable moments of interruption occur and we once again find our children distracted from the task at hand, how do we regroup?
I have found the following to be useful:
- Redirection: Redirect the child’s attention back to where it should be. This may seem obvious, but depending upon the particular child or the particular circumstances, this can take time and patience. This may be required many times in a single lesson for some children, especially younger ones.
- Change topic: If the child really is too distracted or the interruption has broken the natural flow of learning and everyone is completely off course, sometimes a change in topic assists in regaining the attention of all again.
- Set a timer: My children are very competitive and racing a timer helps them to refocus their attention on their lessons. This is particularly useful if they are working independently.
- Get physical: I have found that including regular exercise breaks helps my children to be less distracted during the sit-down portion of school. Sometimes going for a short run after a subject is completed helps them more easily focus on the next subject.
- Reduce interruptions: Telephones, computers, and toys; the sources of interruption are numerous. Removing all toys from the learning area, not answering the telephone, and not allowing the child free access to the computer or tablet have all been helpful in assisting my children to concentrate on their homeschool lessons.
Interruption and distraction are inevitable in life. Teaching our children how to deal with them and then return back to task is a crucial life skill that will assist them throughout their whole lifetimes.
Renata is a wife of fourteen years and homeschooling mama to four precious children (including identical twins). She spends her days surrounded by beauty on their small farm in Australia. She journals her homesteading, homeschooling, and homemaking adventures at http://sunnysidefun.blogspot.com.