Building concentration – slowing things down

March 20, 2013

in Concentration, glenn doman, Montessori, preschool education, Raising children

In my last post on when to start learning the piano, I mentioned that young children have a very long attention span, a gift that is usually destroyed by busy parents who can’t slow down and accept their child’s own pace. It only seems that way because parents often have their own ideas about what their child should be doing – eating instead of painting, sleeping instead of reading, tidying up instead of playing. Yes, if a child wants to jump on and off the sofa and you drag her to the dinner table, it will seem as if her attention span is very short, as she can’t wait to jump off her chair and get back to what she really wants to do. Let her jump on the sofa though, and you will see she can easily sustain the same activity for half an hour or even longer.

I’ve been inspired by two very different sources recently to encourage my  2 year old daughter’s focus on one interest at a time. One is Glenn Doman‘s approach to early learning, in which he encourages parents to give children time so they can build up focus and strength (for example, ditch the buggy and let them walk, as long as you accept that it might take twice as long, you will get to your destination and it is much healthier and more enjoyable and educational for your child – Maria Montessori noted the same originally). My other inspiration is the theory and practice of meditation, understood as learning to focus your mind and control your thoughts that are often all over the place. We have been taught that it is good to be efficient and multitask, to do everything at once to be as fast as possible, but it is very stressful and often, counterproductive. Especially when you have children, the temptation to carry a child while making coffee and also texting a friend about meeting up may be big, but it’s actually not the safest and most enjoyable way to go about it – neither for you nor your child. Practicing and reading about meditation has reminded me of the value of doing one thing at a time and slowing life down in order to avoid stress.

So this morning, instead of putting my daughter in the buggy to take her to nursery school as quickly as possible, I decided to leave half an hour earlier and walk with her at her own pace. Along the way, there are train tracks and she loves to stop and watch the trains go by, and I decided to just stand and watch with her. It was a very interesting experiment waiting for the train. There is only one train every ten minutes, but knowing that a train will eventually come, my 2 year old will happily stand there and stare at the tracks for as long as required. It was especially fascinating to watch her in contrast to the busy commuters who were rushing by on their way to work with no time to look left or right. Even a few busy parents from her nursery school rushed by pushing their children in buggies, looking at us wondering what we were doing standing there. I am on maternity leave with my second child at the moment so of course I have the privilege of taking more time rather than rushing to work at the moment – but at least if you are lucky enough to have a job that starts at 9am and your toddler wakes up at 6am or 6.30 like mine, there is no reason why you can’t leave the house at 8am already and walk very slowly, letting your child investigate leaves, clouds, people, cars and posters along the way.

Have you ever tried slowing things down and following your child’s pace?

Did you enjoy this article?
Share the love
Get free updates

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: