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The Habit of Attention

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A Charlotte Mason Moment

The Habit of Attention

“It is impossible to overstate the importance of this habit of attention. It is, to quote words of weight, ‘within the reach of every one, and should be made the primary object of all mental discipline’; for whatever the natural gifts of the child, it is only so far as the habit of attention is cultivated in him that he is able to make use of them.” (Home Education by Charlotte M. Mason Vol. I, p. 146)

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Meg

    I wholeheartedly agree, but struggle to ‘cultivate’ it. I spend almost my entire day multi-tasking and shifting my attention quickly between children, school and household tasks so the kids are not getting a great example from me! I would love to hear from anyone on how they cultivated this habit in themselves and their children.

    1. Oh this is so true, Meg! Certainly some days are better than others. But, I have found it helps to leave some time in my schedule for household tasks. I have time blocked off to make breakfast and lunch, where the kids are doing chores or independent school during that time. I also block off time outside of school for laundry (we do ours on Wed. night and Sat.). Finally, I have meeting times scheduled with each of the kids I try to give my entire focus. During these teacher times, I don’t do household tasks, and I only answer the phone if it is my husband, my sister, or my mother. Then, I try to keep conversations short, and call back after school if they’re getting long. Finally, I enlist the kids with household tasks and have time planned each day outside of school for those tasks to be done. Wyatt does all the outdoor chores, Riley fills the coffeemaker/makes breakfast smoothies/takes out garbages, and Emmett sets the table/fills soapy water in sink for dirty dishes/unloads the dishwasher. Riley runs the dishwasher at night right before bed. Wyatt does outdoor chores at night. We all cleansweep the house before bed, but this is where I totally fall down. The cleansweep needs help these days. However, I’m happy to say the rest is all working quite well, with occasional misses! We’ll never get it 100% right. But, I’m happy with 80% these days. Hope something here helps, Meg! But from hearing you share here before, I’d be willing to bet you are hitting 80% too, and just like all of us, longing for that elusive 100%. Good job anyway!!! Keep up the good work you are doing!!!

      1. Meg

        Thank you so much taking the time to reply and for the ideas and kind encouragements!
        I am also wondering how you taught your boys to pay attention for the duration of a school assignment or subject. My kids are still pretty young (8, 6, 4 and 2)- so maybe this will improve with time, but quite often we will be in the middle of an assignment or lesson and they will ask something completely unrelated such as ‘What are we doing tomorrow?’ It seems this happens particularly during their least favorite subjects 🙂
        I would love to teach them the value of turning their attention back to the task at hand even when there is something they would rather be thinking about.

        1. I’m glad to have helped provide some ideas and encouragement – that is the goal of this blog, so thank you! As far as your question here, young children really do just struggle to pay attention. A huge help is Carrie’s plans for younger students are written utilizing Charlotte Mason’s ‘short lesson format.’ So, each box of plans takes about 15 minutes. This helps break up the day naturally, and it encourages children to learn to pay attention well for 15 minutes at a time, rather than for large quantities of time.

          Every child is different in how well they take the skill of paying attention. My oldest son paid attention at a young age, and I thought all children were just like that. The Lord has a wonderful sense of humor, however, and a good way of making us appreciate that which before we overlooked to appreciate. In other words, I have a son in 5th grade now who regularly notices random things not related in any way to what we are doing together for school. “Mom, did you see that bluebird out the window?” “Mom, I’m just going to go sharpen all the pencils in the pencil sharpener.” “Mom, there’s the mailman at the door… Hi Scotty! How are you today? What do you have for me?… Oh, this is fun!… A package for Dad – I’ll just quick unpack it for him… Mom, I’m going to call Dad to tell him about his package!” YIKES!!!

          So, we continue to work on the habit of attention with this delightful son of mine. The point is to keep at it. Try not to be worn down by it – and give lots of breaks or plan for movement for wiggly ones. For the ages of your children, shorter attention spans are the norm. But, the continued attempt to encourage the habit of attention will give solid results given time… just some kiddos need a little more time than others. Hope this helps!

  2. Meg

    Yes! Thanks!

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