Handling the Distractions

Posted by Administrator on 4/21/2014 to Homeschooling
It is amazing what can distract my children from doing their schoolwork. For my oldest son, it was his propensity for daydreaming about playing baseball professionally, or designing a diaper for a parrot (yes, really, a parrot diaper), or creating a Bible club for kids in the neighborhood. For my older daughter, it is working on any jigsaw puzzle within hand’s reach or the latest good read that she has discovered at the library. My fourth son can be distracted by practically anything—a squirrel outside, a word on his page of reading, a noise in the laundry room, or a cough from a sibling. We’ve lovingly dubbed him Distractionus Maximus. But it’s the distraction-trigger of my third son (age eight) that is most consternating to me: paper! You never realize how often paper is used in the day-to-day actions of school until you have a son who dreads writing on notebook paper or turning the page of a book. It’s the texture of the paper; it’s the sound of the paper; it’s the feel of an eraser rubbing off a pencil mark that’s on the paper…all of these things distract Jed from doing his schoolwork.

When I look at a blank sheet of paper, I see limitless potential. Give me a pen and a stack of fresh paper and I’m ready to take on any topic. The smell of paper in a new book, the look of a page of neatly written cursive handwriting, the ideas contained within a page of text, all thrill my heart. But that same piece of thin material produced by pressing together moist fibers (usually from wood pulp) and drying them into sheets can distract my typically-eager learner from his lessons as nothing else can. Jed looks at the page with distaste or as a battle he has to conquer before he even gets to his lesson in long division or adverbs. Talk about distracting!

Nevertheless, Jed is learning to overcome his distraction-trigger and accomplish the work he needs to do. He started with a piece of felt underneath his writing hand while he was doing his lessons. Then he progressed to donning a pair of cotton winter gloves because he shivers when he touches paper.  Now he’s investigating the idea of a Kindle or some other electronic tablet to hold entire written works for his reading enjoyment. He’s developing the self-control that is required to deal with possible disruptions in home education, including paper. Jed is learning to handle distractions, and when it comes right down to it, in some ways that ability to cope with interruptions is far more important than determining what the verb phrase of the latest sentence is, or who the twenty-eighth president was. Interruptions and distractions are a part of everyone’s everyday life. The more we can get our young ones to cope with distractions, and even thrive under them, the more time they will have to pursue their daydreams, designs, puzzles, projects, and “for fun” books.

What distracts your child the most during the school day? What distracts you the most during the school hours? And how do you deal with those disruptions? We may all be able to help each other, if we stay focused….No distractions now!