Some children have trouble staying focused because of age,
Some children have trouble staying focused because of energy,
but the ones I want to talk about are the creative ones.
The mind of a creative child is a very unique mind. They are forever coming up with things to build, stories to tell, and places to run off to. They can be
reading school work and then look up with a bright look in their eye and have the grandest idea that they need to share or they will just…
As fun as these moments can be, they can also be extremely disruptive to school time. They sidetrack little minds that should be focused on learning history, math facts or literary terms. The question is, how do we teach them to focus when their minds just will not stop?
I am not saying this will work for everyone but after working with both my boys, each of whom with a different mental focus, I have a few ideas I can share.
Those creative little minds need to express themselves or they will for sure explode (or so my younger boy says). They need to take the play ideas and work them out, explore the storyline they have created in their head, run the races that the characters they just read about ran, to build the transcontinental railroad from their room, down the hall, and around your feet. Little play breaks can let them brain dump essentially. Sometimes this can backfire though. For my older boy, he would move into the play break easily but pulling him back to school the allotted time is up was disastrous.
While this sounds similar to play breaks, they are very different. When my older boy was around 6 or 8 years old, I figured out wiggle breaks were a perfect alternative to play breaks. Wiggle breaks are where the child gets up from where they are working, whether it’s the couch, floor, table, or desk, and literally wiggles and giggles non-stop for 2 or 3 minutes while I switch books for our subject change. This allowed for his creative mind to unstress from book work, allowing some pretty silly giggles, and usually, he sat back down with a smile on his face and was reading to get back to work after he shared a joke or two related to either the subject we finished or the one we were starting.
Timed Work Sessions
This option helped both of my boys for a time. While our kiddos are growing, their brains are developing and learning how to process not only new concepts but new capabilities too. Their little creative minds would get going in circles sometimes, so focused on one detail and they could not let it go. This detail could be related to the lesson or it could be something that was mentioned 2 months ago by a random person. Either way, it can be difficult to teach a child when their mind cannot focus for long. To work around this tempory hiccup, I started telling the kids to work for 10 minutes straight. Give me a good 10 minutes of focused hard work and I would let them talk about whatever they wanted for 5 minutes. At first, this was a bit of a struggle, some of them even tried to argue the time and say that they should work for 5 minutes and talk for 10, but I knew my kiddos and I stuck firmly. I didn’t tell them but I will tell you. Yes, you can do it the other way too if that is what works for you and your kiddos.
Notetaking with Art
I do not know how we would have gotten through history or science class without allowing doodles or such in their notes. It started with the concept of coloring a picture related to the lesson while I read the materials. As the kiddos got older, I moved away from that but their ability to focus on what was being taught greatly diminished. When I started allowing them to doodle things related to what we were learning about, they became engaged and focused again. Mind you, my boys would draw more about wars, death, blood, guts and general silliness (there may have been a t-rex sailing across the river instead of George Washington) but they were retaining the information and engaging their creative side.
This is my newest tactic for keeping my creative kiddos engaged. While we learn about a concept, event, or book, they decide what project they want to do in connection with it and work on it. My daughter loves to create PowerPoints. My older boy likes to find short videos on the topic and create a playlist to help share the information he has learned. My youngest loves to build with recycling so he typically creates a setting or means of transportation from what he is learning about. As they get older, I can require more work from them. Maybe all three have to do all three project options for one concept I teach. Maybe I can create a list of ten possible projects that include poster boards, dioramas, or such and have them pick 3 or 5 of them depending on their age and complexity of the possible projects. No matter what way I handle it in the future, right now, this is the method that works best for my kiddos and me and that right there is an important thing to realize.
What works for you and your kids now, may not be what works later
You may figure out what really helps everyone in your family. You may get a good schedule or rhythm in place and everything will run like a well-oiled machine. This will probably change many times and it is supposed to change. I cannot tell you the number of times I finally figured it all out to work for the best of everyone and a month (sometimes not even that) later and everyone has grown enough that what did work, no longer works and we start all over. This is maddening but I LOVE it. My babies are growing academically, mentally, and in character as well.
I will live with the chaos with happiness so I get to watch their creative minds surprise me time and time again.
Greetings! My name is Joy and I am currently a stay at home mom who is homeschooling her three kids in South Carolina. I love learning and I love sharing the love of learning with others so getting to home school my kids and watch the “ah-ha” moments when they understand something is unbelievably rewarding. I have been homeschooling since my twins were preschool age so we are going on 8 years now. I am also a military spouse so we have the added joy of being a military family with some of the complications that come with it. As a family, we stay busy with our scouting groups, American Heritage Girls and TrailLife, and we do many camping and hiking trips with them. When I have downtime, I am typically reading books I have sitting around the house, on YouTube/websites getting more information on different home school programs or working on plans for homeschool. I look forward to being able to share our experiences with everyone and help encourage all homeschooling families.