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When the staring off and "thinking" eat up time...


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We run into this occasionally with my oldest. She's "thinking," but gets distracted or wondering about something else. Until I call her back to earth, she's wondering whether unicorns fart rainbow gas or some other such nonsense. Doing it repeatedly is frustrating for her and myself.


This week we are doing the timer for her assignments and whatever she doesn't complete in an appropriate amount of time is "homework." What other strategies do you have?

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Do you sit right there with her while she's working? The only thing I've seen that really works is sitting with them and just constantly redirecting their attention until they are a bit older.


Will be curious what other suggestions people have.

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We use a timer, but in a different way. We do 20 minutes of focus, then 5 of mess around. My drifter just does this all day. He knows he only has to focus for 20 minutes at a time. When he was the age of your dd we did 15 and 5. During the 5 minutes, he can't sit. He can go to the bathroom, get a snack, do jumping jacks, run around the house like a mad man etc..., but he has to get out of his chair.


The other thing I do, is that I will change the order of how we do things. Sometimes Math is first, sometimes middle, sometimes the end of the day. It brings him out of his rut.


In 3rd grade he really struggled. We got him an exercise ball to sit on. 


Peppermint is also supposed to be good for memory. So we sometimes will give him peppermint gum. If he starts drifting he has to spit out the gum.

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I think it is a part of life. I know that my mind wanders off a bit when I am working on a task.


I do have some guidelines for my kids. I am adamant that they not wander away mentally while they are 'in' a math problem or a sentence etc. No doodling in the middle of a math problem. If they are between problems and a momentary daydream happens then so be it, but I do work with them to stay on task while they are in the task. And there is a different between working something out in their heads and a momentary check out. I will ask if I suspect they have wandered off. I just ask "Are you working on the problem or thinking about something else?" But my younger will stop in the middle of writing a numeral to ask me a question that has nothing to do with the problem or school. My older boy was the same and it doesn't happen any longer so I assume the younger will also grow out of it.


I also have similar rules about interruptions. If I am reading SOTW and he has a question or a comment it must be relevant to what we are doing. It drives me nuts when I am in the middle of a paragraph and he will ask me what we are having for dinner. He is free to ask me that of course, but only after we are done with history.


FWIW, my public teacher friends tell me that ALL young kids do this and they deal with 15 doing the same thing all the time, lol.

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Same issue here. We started with high protein breakfast including eggs every day and see a HUGE improvement. I will be putting her back on her daily vitamins and Nordic naturals fish oil as soon as they come in the mail abs I put the Time Timer 8 inch on my wish list. She loves to set the timer and then she focuses much harder. I give her a reasonable time to finish, then she gets five minutes plus the extra time she had left.


Adequate sleep, diet, vitamins are all super super important over here but the timer thing works wonders. Then, she let's herself visit dreamland during her break.


Honestly I think I've come to terms with the fact that this is the way she is wired. I picture her doing something very creative and hands on as a career such as Montessori teacher, culinary arts, etc. And I rejoice that, should she ever be a homeschool mommy, she will be so much more fun than me. Lol

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Accepting it to a certain extent is key.  I mean, people are all wired differently.  I would not box my dd in and say that she will not or cannot go to, for example, business or law school.  But I accept and understand that she probably won't. In fact, it is highly likely she won't even want to do anything which requires a master's degree. Sitting still and studying is, for her, very difficult.  She is a bundle of energy, joy, people person, and enthusiasm.  Luckily her high intelligence makes up for a lot of that, as mostly everything just doesn't require a whole lot of effort for her.  ....


but once I accepted all of this and sort of organized my thoughts for her future around it, I am much more able to do all these tricks with Timers and teach her to use them as well so that she herself can work with her own personality to achieve her goals.  Instead of teaching her to say "I am a daydreamer and I just don't study well, it's going to be so hard for me to make it though this"  I  am teaching her to say "I am sociable and wiggly.  I need to get exercise, eat properly, and use timers, and team up with a study buddy as much as possible, and give myself breaks to play."


Much better to work with reality than to try to turn a fish into a rabbit etc.

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Plenty of physical exercise every day.


Breaks between subjects too (jumping jacks, marching, run around the house 3 times--weather permitting!--shoot a couple of hoops, etc...)


Short lessons rather than longer ones--encourage good focus for a short time, rather than having long lessons where attention lags and wanders


"racing"--I used to say, "Let's see who can finish first: you with your math, or me with this chore (folding laundry, cleaning something up in that room, etc...). Ready, set, go!" I made it so they could win if they tried.


Homework method--make sure they know, "Now is your free time--unless you have homework." So this way it's very concrete that they lost something, versus just letting things drag on and they don't really realize, even if you say, that they are missing play time later by dawdling now


Protein with meals, especially breakfast, can help with focus. Limit sugary things (sugared cereals work against focus and concentration)


Eliminate food colorings and unnecessary food additives as much as possible. Eat food that spoils--it has good nutrients. "Food" that can stay on a shelf for months or years doesn't fuel the brain very well.


Sit with your child and take turns writing answers (they can say the answer and you write it). Don't worry, you won't do it forever. But math snuggling on the couch together for 20 minutes is a lot more fun than math for 45 minutes to an hour with both of you frustrated.


Work in areas with less visual and auditory distractions when possible. Remember cubicles? They block out windows and outside visual stimuli.


Encourage her to understand herself better--what things lead her to distraction? The more she understands herself, the more she will be able to learn how to regain her focus. (meta-cognition). Encourage her to learn how to self-accommodate.

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