It’s frustrating isn’t it? This happens so much to me yet I am ashamed to admit that I get frustrated when my little ones do it. It is so important however to train our minds to pay attention but how do we go about doing it? Here are some quotes from Miss Mason’s Home Education Series.
“Our minds go off on tangents. Attention wanders because there are so many things that run through our minds.” (Vol. 1, p.137)
That pegs me right between the eyes!!
“It is the mother’s part to supplement the child’s quick observing faculty with the habit of attention. She must see to it that he does not flit from this to that, but looks long enough at one thing to get a real acquaintance with it.” (p.140)
That is so hard! Or at least seems like it would be! But think about it, how long will a little child, one of even two or three years, stare at the T.V. while watching a favorite video or show? The answer, as long as we let them!! Now we recently got rid of the T.V. in our own home and I am so glad that we did but I can remember times when my little ones would sit in front of the one-eyed monster like hypnotized little followers. It truly bothered me! Even though what they watched was always monitored I didn’t like what they looked like while they were watching it. But, if they can sit still and watch a T.V. show for any amount of time it is because the T.V. has their FULL ATTENTION! All we as Mothers have to do is to transfer that attention to things that are actually edifying and exercising their little minds.
Whatever it is that we are wanting our children to pay attention to we need to remember that Miss Mason advocated SHORT lessons. In keeping lessons short but expecting FULL attention we will be more successful in training this habit of attention. It will require some watchfulness on our parts, making sure that the child's full attention is given to whatever work is being accomplished at the moment. It will seem like a lot on us at first I'm sure (especially those of us with numerous children) but the effort will be well worth it because it will produce bright, educated lovers of learning people!
It is recommended to do something like this, “This applies to babies and toddlers also. Once the child starts lessons, keep them short and interesting. Don’t allow dawdling to even start. You might have to go to a very different subject then come back to the unfinished one after the change. Follow a schedule so child can see that he has only 20 minutes for math, 15 minutes for the next subject, and so forth. If he attends well and gets done early then the time left over is his free time-his reward (natural consequence) for attending."
Doesn’t sound too difficult does it? It’s consistency on our part that will add much to the success of training our children in the habit of attention.
I love this next quote, “Ability-a different thing from genius or talent-is simply the power of fixing attention steadily on the matter in hand and success in life turns upon this cultivated power far more than on any natural faculty.” (Vol. 5, p 94)
“We need not labor to get children to learn their lessons; that, if we would believe it, is a matter which nature takes care of. Let the lessons be of the right sort and children will learn them with delight. The call for strenuousness comes with the necessity of forming habits;but here again we are relieved. The intellectual habits of the good life form themselves in the following out of the due curriculum in the right way. As we have already urged, there is but one right way, that is, children must do the work for themselves. They must read the given pages and tell what they have read, they must perform, that is, what we may call the act of knowing. We are all aware, alas, what a monstrous quantity of printed matter has gone into the dustbin of our memories, because we have failed to perform that quite natural and spontaneous ‘act of knowing,’ as easy to a child as breathing and, if we would believe it, comparatively easy to ourselves. The reward is two-fold: no intellectual habit is so valuable as that of attention; it is a mere habit but it is also the hallmark of an educated person.” (p.99)