When I taught at a public school, I often gave the boring directive, “Pay attention!” I assumed that my students didn’t put effort into a task and purposely let their attention slip away. It wasn’t until I learned the Charlotte Mason method that I began to understand that those sweet little ones weren’t being defiant, they just had never learned how to pay attention. I suddenly felt a cloud of guilt settle over those years as a teacher- giving directions but never teaching the skills to complete them had to be so frustrating for those unsupported students!
What Charlotte Mason Said About Attention:
Attention is a necessary skill, no matter how “gifted or talented” a child is.
Attention With Little Ones
It’s best to start helping your child develop this habit from infancy. You can either assume that it doesn’t matter so early on, or try to get good habits in place right away.
- Model attention to them by completing only one task at a time
- Explain what paying attention looks like: make eye contact, get rid of distractions, be aware when thoughts wander.
- Limit screen time (this is one of the biggest factors!)
- Feed them a healthy diet- (sugar is
- Make sure they’re getting plenty of sleep
- When babies and toddlers lose interest in a toy, redirect their attention back to it
How We’re Doing With This Habit
Miss H and I played a board game together tonight. As I urged her to stay at her spot by the coffee table and look carefully at her Zingo board, I checked my phone for the zillionth time. I am not the greatest at modeling attention! Sometimes I succeed at redirecting Baby E while his attention shifts from one toy to another, or explaining to Miss H how to remove distractions to remain focused on one task. But like all things with kids, consistency is key. I guess that’s a habit I need to work on!
I’ve also noticed recently that while Miss H is in the middle of doing something, we ask her to do something else. This is too much for her precious brain. While she’s brushing her teeth, if I say, “Finish brushing your teeth and put on your pajamas,” she will inevitably put down her toothbrush and head for her pajamas. Instead of giving her the time to complete a task well, I shift her attention to something else. I see this happening when we head out of the house, clean up, or even play.
Do you work on this habit at home? I’d love to hear about it!
If you want to get started with habit training, but don’t know where to begin, check out my eBook!