Most of us want to get better at paying attention, but no matter how hard we try, distractions abound. From work to life to play, we find it very difficult to remain focused – and research has shown that our educational style and system is largely responsible.
You see, we learn to drive by staying on the road, meaning that the more we engage in activities that captivate our attention… the more we are practicing paying attention… and so the better you get at it. The western education system is all about training kids to pay attention by forcing them to practice paying attention to things they are not interested in! Fixing this, and our inability to pay attention can be done through self-directed learning.
In addition to school work, we need to create spaces that encourage kids to be self-directed learners because it is one of the most important skills that anyone can develop. In today’s world, self-directed learners are becoming increasingly rare. We need to champion the development of people that can learn on their own and develop their own unique ideas about learning. But, making these changes as adults can be hard – let’s make it easier for kids.
Below, we’ll go into how you can help your kids to become self-directed learners.
A lot of adults seldom let their kids play on their own. They are always interrupting their kids play and trying to take control. Kids are smart enough to entertain themselves. They find fun in a lot of things. If you keep on disrupting their play, you are preventing them from developing their self-directed learning facilities. You also prevent them from developing their focus and attention. Only interrupt if it is necessary for you to do so.
Let your kids explore
Kids should be allowed to explore unencumbered and undisturbed. Provide your kids with toys that teach them to be creative. Give them tools that will inspire them and unleash their creativity. Loose parts and putting things together can make them creative as kids learn a lot through open-ended play.
Ensure that your home is set up in a way that encourages your kids to be independent. Your attitude is the most important thing in setting up a self-directed learning environment. Stop being frustrated by little things, if kids see that you don’t like them exploring, they won’t be as creative as they should be.
Trust your kids
Because we love our kids, we are always quick to jump in and help – slow down, let them try. Because it is from trying and sometimes failing that we learn. When you do something wrong and try to fix it, you teach yourself to learn. Allowing kids to try things out themselves, even if they fail is a great way to encourage self-directed learning, and to improve their ability to pay attention.
Blog Post by Adam Brock
Youth Coach, Teacher, Digital Media Specialist