Last week, after sharing the painful realization that my son cannot pay meaningful attention during his online Physics X class, I promised to follow up with some tips for simple ways we help our kids practice paying attention. 

In their daily lives, our youth don’t engage in activities that offer regular opportunities to practice sustaining attention – for the sake of it, or just because it’s the right thing to do. They are always entertained and then have that very expectation – to be entertained. 

We need to break the habit of expecting entertainment and help our kids build an active relationship with learning. Walk with me here, through four possibilities…

First off, the Countdown technique helps us, as Nike says, “just do it!” You have a goal and you’ve pictured yourself succeeding. You’ve planned the steps to get there. Now countdown: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BLAST OFF. You can read more about how we use the Countdown in my house by reading my blog post “How to do the things you don’t like doing.

Next, the Pomodoro method can help make your kids (and you) more focused, more productive and less likely to procrastinate. Pomodoro is a time management technique that teaches you how to work with time, instead of struggling against it. You can read more about it in our blog post “Why we procrastinate, and how we can change.

Third and perhaps most important (sorry!), reading… Reading, reading, reading, READING! I clearly cannot emphasize the importance of having your kids sit down and read. Buy or borrow a hard-copy book, magazine article, newspaper page (versus downloading a book on a tablet… our kids are already getting too much screen time!), and have your kids spend at least 20 minutes a day reading. I know you’re so sick of hearing about this, parents of non-readers. But here’s why we can’t give up…

Reading is like an academic form of meditation. It exercises the brain to focus on doing just one thing. It also helps us practice 1) monitoring what we’re thinking to make sure we understand 2) go back and figure it out when we don’t 3) speed up or slow down to make sure we’re taking in the information 4) summarizing key points. THIS is the stuff that basic learning is made of. When the 20 minutes is over, chat with your kid about what they’ve read. Keep it a simple, regular time. And if it’s too painful for all of you, hire us to help! Don’t miss this opportunity. 

Finally, DO NOT underestimate the benefit of getting your kids out of the house and into a new environment that’s specifically designated for learning, especially for the kiddos who are learning in either a distance or virtual learning model. In a different time, libraries and coffee shops served this need, but the pandemic leaves us without many options. Don’t worry friends, I’ve got a solution for you! 

Yellow Parachute is offering distance learning drop-in punch cards for The Granary, our new satellite location located within the Chaska Mill. This is a great option for elementary, middle and high school students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, where they can get specific help in any subject in an environment that is conducive to learning, robust, flexible and affordable. But don’t take my word about the good work we’re doing at the Granary… Check out this video I made earlier this week of me speaking with Davis, who is a student who comes to the Granary. Watch the video here. And better yet, stop down and see it for yourselves!

I was really hoping to wave my magic wand and have a solution for how we can get our kids to pay attention. Fact is, a multifaceted approach works best. I also want to reiterate that I think the power of relationships is what is going to save us. Our kids need the power of connection and must re-learn the basic art of looking someone in the eye, taking the opportunity to connect, and building a relationship.  And they feel so good when they do!

As always, if your student, school, or district has a need, or if you have questions about our distance learning drop-in punch cards for the Granary or anything else, please contact us. We know that Great Minds Don’t Think Alike and can customize your solution. 

YP looks forward to jumping with you!

Visit our Parent Resources page for more helpful insights. Download our Wheel of Life tool to start creating momentum today!

Cara Thorpe
Founder & Visionary
Yellow Parachute Learning Partners