How math teaches attentiveness…

We’ve definitely had our struggles with homeschool math, and we have shed many tears. At times, I have lost my patience. Many times if I am honest. Patience is a virtue, and one I have struggled with over the course of my life. Now, through my children, God is teaching me about patience as we teach our children the habit of paying attention.

My child is not lazy or stupid, but they lack attentiveness. This habit has been on our radar since last summer when God instilled in me the desire to be more intentional. After years of trying to figure out what was going wrong with math, it really came down to this: attentiveness. (I recently wrote about habits here: https://gramercywood.com/2020/01/04/habits/ ) So, we began a conversation about the habit of attentiveness: what is it? why do we need it? As defined, being attentive means ‘paying close attention to something’. How many times have I walked in on my child, pencil down, staring out the window or at their sibling or anywhere but their math sheet?

It brought back memories of my own time sitting in a classroom, while the teacher droned on, staring out the window onto a beautiful spring day watching the wind make the leaves on the trees flutter and twist. When I brought up the subject to my husband, he confessed he had the same issues. So, it’s a very common issue. I might add that not all of our children are afflicted with inattentiveness in math. One can be given a sheet and will rush through it, so they will be done and can go outside. But the question is…how can we teach our child to pay attention in math?

This led to a conversation between us and our children about being attentive to everything we do. It also caused me to do some soul searching. Honestly, I still struggle with paying attention when performing tasks I don’t like to do, such as paying attention when reading an article I know will help me, but is reeeeeealllllly boring. Or listening to a speaker, who isn’t gifted in public speaking, share their knowledge on a topic which I need to know more about for work or homeschool. Do you connect with that?

After doing some reading, it seemed it all comes down to the WILL to do the task. For instance, my child, who struggles with inattentiveness in math, does not have the same struggle in all subjects. The subjects which capture their interest, they fly through. So, there is a WILL to do those things we like. I paid more attention, and my other child struggles with a WILL to do work in other areas just not in math. How do we learn to get better at exercising our WILL? Practice is the simplest answer. To set ourselves to a task and use our WILL to push on toward the goal. We will fail and have to begin again, and again, and again, but it’s through this struggle where we find our WILL to get the job done.

Ultimately, the habit of paying attention is a life long skill we develop through practice. All habits are the same. We must practice. So, while my child practices attentiveness in math, I practice patience in teaching. Do you have a habit on which you are working? Share it with me in the comments. Thank you for reading!

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