Heart to Heart
     Let me assure you that all children daydream, especially during independent studies of subjects they least enjoy. Other contributing factors include boredom, lack of understanding, too many distractions, not enough diversions, and puberty. Stand back and examine the situation. Is the material challenging and interesting, or repetitious and boring? Does the child fully understand the assignment? Is the material too demanding or above the child’s level of understand­ing? Are there too many distractions? Are you providing enough diversity?      There should be a balance between independent studies, one-on-one, and family projects; also between reading, writing, researching, listening, and doing. Boredom breeds bad habits, so be sure to include projects, art, field trips, and other “doing” activities into your curriculum.      Are you providing adequate play periods outdoors, rest periods, and time for family responsibilities and fun interaction? Has the child reached puberty? Does the child have trouble concentrating in all areas of life or just in particular areas of study?      Eliminate as many distractions as possible when the child is working independent­ly. Keep the area quiet and free from temptations (no windows, posters, books…). Try to provide a comfortable, quiet, nondescript area away from the hustle and bustle of household activities. A word of caution though, if required to stay in this area too long, anyone would become curious about what’s going on with the rest of the family, so be reasonable. Balance this time with family studies (history, science, literature).      Sit with this child for one week to observe his behavior, so you can help him realize when he daydreams and how to redirect his focus. Every time he begins to daydream, have him place a red dot (adhesive sticker) on a chart. This will make him aware of how often he diverts his attention from the task at hand. Then, time him to see how long it takes him to complete one problem. Have him calculate how long it will take to finish the assignment at that rate.      After discovering the excessive amount of wasted time and realizing the need for complete concentration, show him how to redirect his focus every time it wanders. While working on his assignment, as his mind begins to wander, ask him to identify the task that requires his complete attention right then. Have him look at the problem or question and say it out loud. Help him to break it down into easy steps. Have him finish all the easy problems first and then go back to the more difficult ones. After completion, encourage him to look over all his work to make sure he did not miss anything.      If the child is younger, set reasonable goals for him; if he is older, help him to set reasonable goals for himself. Break the assignment into smaller increments. For better concentration, possibly require ½ page at one sitting and ½ page later or 7 problems instead of 15. Also make him aware of the advantages of efficiency by giving incentives: If you finish this, you’ll have time to do this.      The more failures children encounter, the more they are going to fail and the less they will try, so the key to success is little achievements along the way with an under­standing parent cheering them on. Continually encourage and praise them. The more they succeed, the more they will try. No matter what capabilities a child possesses, when a mother supports her child, success is certain! Y