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Helping Our Children Learn to Focus 

By Dennis Lamphere

     As a little guy in 1947, sitting in 1st grade, focus was not something I was very good at.

    Matter of fact, that was the very reason why the teacher felt I should repeat 1st grade for the 2nd time. 

    I can remember thinking inside, “If they only knew how boring those pictures of Jane running or Spot jumping were!” I also thought, “When are we really going to learn something interesting?”

Looking back (grandpas do a lot of that!), I can see how my teachers, and even my own parents, underestimated my ability to learn. My seeming inability to “focus” was a sign to them that “something was wrong.”

     But I could get VERY excited about challenging projects like building play houses or running my toy bulldozer, or how much water I could put in a small pond before it would overflow, causing a “flood”. 

Their methods of teaching were simply not my method of learning.  Words, words, words…. And more words…. I was a visual learner in a very word-orientated world.

Today there is a much better understanding of the learning styles of children.  With all styles, the common goal is “focus”.  What I mean by focus is the ability to concentrate on a subject for a period of time, to come to a conclusion or to form a question about a subject...enough to form long term retention of information.

The opposite side of focus is a very short attention span, frustration, anger, fast movement with the hands and feet, large, open, day-dreamy eyes and mussed up hair…. Sound familiar?  That was me. That was my experience in trying to understand how to learn in a word-related environment.

 Then one day, someone suggested that I slow down, take one thing at a time and look at it, feel it, enjoy it, take the time to understand each little part.  Just that moment, was the beginning of my learning to focus. 

As a result, I made it through school and even some college.  I married a wonderful woman, Linda, who, after 48 years is still my lovely wife.  My children are all grown and serving Jesus.  I have 17 grandchildren.  God has blessed my “focus” on Him.

  And now, 65 years later, after that little boy sat fidgeting, with mussed up hair, feeling like a failure and gradually learning to “focus”, I am still learning how to corral my thoughts on what is in front of me at the moment

I am able to spend hours on something I really enjoy.  For me, choosing to fasten my attention on something is the key to learning and remembering.

   Teaching myself to hone-in on a subject or an item of interest and truly concentrate, helps me expand a skill that works for other things that are not as interesting to me.

    The focusing skills that I learned have enabled me to feed and raise my family. Ironically, what still peaks my interest today, is what I liked to do before I could “focus” in school.  I enjoy my bulldozer, construction and driving my 18 wheeler.

I have, however, also been able to expand my interests and skills to actually enjoy reading, listening to Christian radio, visiting with friends and traveling….

Let’s help our children to purposely focus on Jesus and  let them realize that they are made uniquely with special gifts.  They will understand this, if we honestly believe it is true and emulate that as we live with them.

     Focusing on gifts can be exciting and lead to all kinds of adventures.

 Take a simple task at hand, focus on it…. And watch what happens!