I have one boy in a house of girls. He stands out to say the least. It’s easy to see that he’s different. His learning style and his attention span are nothing like that of his sisters. My little guy can be more than a little distracted. And for the record, saying, “Please focus! Please! Please!” does not accomplish anything.
I’ve tried lots of things to help him focus:
- We school in short chunks of time throughout the day.
- I give him lots of exercise breaks.
- I let him sit or stand or do school in whatever position works for him that day.
- I let him hold small, quiet things to keep his hands busy while we work.
- I use curriculum that has hands-on components.
Sometimes those things help and other times I feel like I’m just sitting there teaching phonics or addition to myself. When I look at him I can see his mind is far away on a pirate ship on the high seas or galloping on a trusty stallion to rush to the defense of his castle. I know these things for a fact.
Case in point, our math lesson from the morning:
Me: Say the even numbers up to 20.
Tiger: 2, 4, 6………..8………………
Me: Looking at him and waiting for the next number
Tiger: 2, 4, 6, 8……………..Mom, what kinds of guns do pirates have?
Tiger: Is their sword a cutlass?
Me: I’m not sure but that sounds right. Can you keep counting?
Me: Yes, you were counting the even numbers up to 20.
Tiger: Oh. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12…………..I’m going to build a robot. And that robot is going to do chores for me. I’m going to be an inventor.
Me: That sounds great! Now, you stopped at 12 can you keep going?
Tiger: 12……….15, no 14………….I also want to be an illustrator when I grow up. I’m going to do both. And then I’m going to illustrate books for Curly. I’ll be an artist too.
Me: Great plans. Now, keep going from 14.
Tiger: 14……….14………….14…………..I don’t KNOW! (Then he falls out of his chair)
Me: Hop back up in your chair and keep going. You are almost there! Let’s hear the even numbers.
Tiger: Are all pirates mean?
Me: I don’t know. Counting. Counting. Please keep counting.
Tiger: I don’t know where I was!
Tiger: 14, 16……….17. No. What types of things do pirates steal? Did you know in the book the pirate has a parrot and he…….
Me: We are at 16. What’s next?
Me: And after that? The next even number?
Tiger: 20. And Mom, Captain Hook and Mr. Smee………..
And then I realize that it’s been more than 5 minutes and we’ve accomplished only 1 thing. I have several more concepts to cover during math time. If I talk in a pirate voice would he actually listen?