My 9yo boy gets distracted doing workbooks, cleaning his room, doing all sorts of chores and tasks around home, but sit him in the middle of his lego or brainbox circuitry and he’s focussed for ages! So, I know he can focus in. (He’s a dreamer. I love him dearly.)
I set the stove timer beeper for 20 minutes – not always so he’s finished (though I think he could be with sustained effort), but for him to learn how long 20 minutes is.
But after an hour eg of doing 4-6 pages of maths workbook (I can’t always sit with him to focus him in to work), I stop him and we have a break and on to something else. I know that if I sit with him and ask questions, he knows it and often very well. It’s the sticking-with-the-programme by himself that’s the issue! along with getting started quickly – often he twiddles with pen and bobs up and down out of his seat for this and that.
When there’s a strong external motivation (ice cream, outing, computer time), he does much better – but I’d like him to have internal motivation to get things done smartly.
“When you have finished that, then you can …” or “You have one hour to do your maths and ride your bike. You do your maths first, but at o’clock we are then going to …(something else)”.
I think it’s a long-term training – and finding a balance (sorry no simple answer, wish I knew one!)
- awareness of time and its value
- finding different methods of working that produce learning and understanding of topics (not always written in a book)
- allowing times for their creativity and imagination to develop
- awareness of fitting in with others
- self-discipline to do work set by you/teacher
- following instruction, coming under rightful authority
9yo sped through a writing exercise the other day because of some strong external motivation and, when finished, he clearly saw that going slow actually doesn’t produce better work. His handwriting in the fast work was markedly better than his slow work – so, we learn and build on these times.
Try all sorts of methods and motivations. Build on what brings positive results.
Lord, give me patience.