One of my biggest challenges with homeschooling is dealing with distractions. It is an understatement to say that Gabriel is easily distracted. But what kid isn’t? I’ve already tried to incorporate many breaks in between tasks and giving him work in bite-sized pieces, but distractions still abound. I’ve tried using a timer, but the timer itself became a distraction. Then, there’s his chair, which needs to be positioned just right against the table. There’s his pencil that’s missing an eraser (he wants a new pencil now). There’s his eraser that has dark marks, which he has to rub off. Now, he hears the faint sound of a siren from a fire truck, which I could barely hear myself. And the list goes on.
If I give him work to do, and it is work that I know he is able to do, he will rarely stay on task. It’s not always a problem of laziness or even defiance. Sometimes, he feels like the work is too difficult. And, it’s not always a question of motivation because even with the promise of a small reward for finishing, I will still find him in dreamland. If I am able to remove the item of distraction, he will find something else to capture his interest. This makes it especially challenging to attend to my younger children. I would expect Gabriel to work more independently by now, but he doesn’t. So, how do we get through a day of school, even a single subject? By the grace of God!
I wish I could tell you I know how to eliminate a child’s propensity to be distracted, but I’m afraid I can’t. At the maturity level of a young child, his/her attention span is very short. This should not surprise us, but it can still be a source of frustration for the homeschooling parent. And though I may not have the solution for the complete removal of distractibility from a child, I do have an encouragement for the parent. This is a verse that a dear sister in The Lord shared with me a few years ago, and it has stuck with me since.
“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Even though this is not a verse that specifically addresses parenting, it is still something we ought to keep in mind when dealing with our children. First of all, admonish has the idea of a stern warning. When a child is being idle, he is unproductive and lazy … and I would even say, undisciplined and disobedient. We need to warn them that such a pattern in life can lead to suffering in the future. But, sometimes it’s not an issue of laziness, but the child is just fainthearted, or lacking in boldness or courage, so we have to encourage him. We have to spur him on with the things that he may be too timid to do. Other times, the child is simply weak; he lacks the power to do the task by himself. In that case, we have to come alongside him and help him. Finally, I love how this verse ends: ” … be patient with them all.” No matter the personality and tendencies of the child, we need to demonstrate the willingness to forbear, endure, and suffer long with them.
Isn’t that how God is with us?
(Photo Credit: apdk)