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A Magical Way To Make Children Focus (Without Any Rewards Or Punishment)

A Magical Way To Make Children Focus (Without Any Rewards Or Punishment)

You find that your child loses focus easily at school. The teacher has told you that she loses concentration by the end of the lesson; and as the day goes on it only gets worse.

You have tried punishing him by not letting him see friends until him marks improve but this does not seem to have any effect. Rewards seem equally futile. You tried bribery with a special toy or game he wanted by he didn’t seem to be motivated by the incentive.

The solution is simple

As the days drag on he only seems to be getting more and more behind and you are out of ideas as to what to do. Fear not the solution may be more simple then you think. The fact in that people, especially children, cannot concentrate for long periods of time. Take a 5-year-old for example. The maximum time they can concentrate for is usually around 15 minutes.

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The answer to this common problem is to take regular breaks (which can also mean switching to some easy tasks like washing their hands). Breaking up a lesson into smaller more manageable sequences will make life a whole lot easier for the students. If a child is allowed to take a quiet break; that is not stimulating in any way, you may find that afterwards they are reenergized and able to focus once again on the task at hand.

Do not over stimulate during break time

What is important is to make sure that the break is not too entertaining or stimulating. The child should not be allowed to play on their phones or chat extensively with other children. It should be a quiet time; a time where the children are encouraged to sit in peace or walk around the room considering things that may be on their minds.

A recent study has shown that children are not the only ones who benefit from breaks. All of us can lose focus ager performing the same task for a long period of time.

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A recent study

Psychology professor Dr. Alejandro Lleras from the University of Illinois headed the study. He claims that a drop in one’s “attention resources” is the cause of what is termed “vigilance decrement”. Vigilance decrement is the loss in focus we experience after doing a task for an extended period of time.

From sensory perception to thoughts

Lleras noticed that in sensory perception the brain gradually stops paying attention to sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus is consistent over time. For example, we do not pay attention to the feeling of our clothing.

Lleras says: “Constant stimulation is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that the brain erases it from our awareness.”

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“So I thought, well, if there’s some kind of analogy about the ways the brain fundamentally processes information, things that are true for sensations ought to be true for thoughts. If sustained attention to a sensation makes that sensation vanish from our awareness, sustained attention to a thought should also lead to that thought’s disappearance from our mind!”

Lleras considered that sustained attention to a thought should also lead to the thought’s disappearance from our mind.

Findings of the study

Lleras and postdoctoral fellow Atsunari Ariga tested participants’ ability to focus on a repetitive computerized task for approximately one hour. The task was taken under a variety of conditions. It was found that over the course of the task most participants’ performance significantly declined.

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Once group, however, called the “switch group” saw no drop in their performance. The switch group were given two brief breaks from their main task. The result was they were able to remain focused throughout the entire experiment.

Lleras suggests that prolonged attention to a single task does in fact hinder performance.

“From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay  focused on your task!”said Lleras.

Summation

The same logic holds true for children. So simply factoring in break time into our children’s study regime could have positive ramifications. If you are a parent you may like to suggest this to your child’s teacher. You can also practice break time at home. As an educator you can try factoring in break time into your classroom schedule. You may find your students’ results improve dramatically.

Featured photo credit: Long Island Eye Doctor via longislandeyedoctor.com

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Published on November 7, 2018

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

Figure Out the Laws

Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

Decide on an Approach

Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

Supplies/Resources

Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

Find a Community

Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

7 Different Homeschooling Methods

1. School-At-Home

Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

  • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
  • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
  • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

2. Classical

One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

3. Unit Studies

Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

  • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
  • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
  • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

4. Charlotte Mason

This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

5. Montessori

Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

6. Unschooling

Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

7. Eclectic/Relaxed

As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

Email

Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

Google Drive/Calendar

Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

Ebooks

Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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E-Courses

When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

Some recommendations:

Youtube

Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

Some recommendations:

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

Reference

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