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Focus For “Squirrelers”

I am a swing dancer. I could dance to rock and roll for four hours and never get bored. That is, if, I can dance with different partners. Each dancer offers me a different style, and I have to remain in the moment with each one, so I don’t miss a step. It is something like meditating while moving. I can’t think of anything else when I’m trying to focus on what my partner is going to do in the moment. Learning how to do that took strong will, because I am a “squirreler” most of the time. (That is a person who has many thoughts popping into their brain at any given moment).

When it comes to lessons, I am the worst student that exists. I can’t do the same thing over and over again to get muscle memory once I know how to do it. So going to a lesson for beginners is a guarantee that I will disrupt the class and lose my focus, especially if the teacher is not teaching it correctly.

So, I get what it is like for students when teachers have to introduce new concepts. Most teachers want to build a firm foundation upon which to build the new concepts. However, students like me don’t understand that. So, we hear the intro to the lesson and say to ourselves, “I know that already,” and then tune out while we dream of something more interesting, thus missing the new material. As a result, we are often labeled inattentive. Students like me will say it is boring. Boring is also used when it is hard. If the moves the dance teacher is sharing are too difficult to follow, I will get the feeling defined as “bored,” not because I know how to do it, but because it requires too much mental energy to figure out what they are trying to teach.

So what is the answer for students. I had to learn how to redirect my thought during dancing with very talented dancers who were throwing multiple moves at me. If I let my mind wander, it could result in a tripping and falling event. So, I learned to train my brain to put the squirreling on hold and stay in the moment for at least 3 minutes (the length of a dance).

Students can do the same. When taking a class on time management, my area of expertise, I found my mind wandering when the teacher was rehashing the same concept several times. I found it helpful to listen to him, as if what he had to say was so important that if I missed it, I would cheat my students. I listened by sitting in a chair that allowed me to keep my feet on the floor. I leaned forward as I watched the presentation, repeating what he said in my mind. This allowed me to keep my mind busy while focusing on the lesson. As he asked questions, I answered them in my mind and listened to other’s answers. I did learn a few new things. After each answer, I would get validation that my thinking was in agreement or learn something new. It was hard to keep focused on a subject I had been teaching for years, but by doing so, I was able to get three new ideas from the 10 session seminar.

Help your children understand the secret about teachers; They review what you need to know and expect you to know before they share new more challenging concepts.

Help them learn how to focus in the moment. Try starting with three minutes of focus on one thing and notice what they didn’t see before. A friend had me do that on vacation once. She said, “You are moving so fast, you miss half of the good things.” She modeled how to observe one area during a snorkeling outing. I was amazed at what I would have missed if I had not spent the five minutes in one spot. I would have missed the eel that was hiding and the flying canard that was lying still on the ocean floor. It was a site to see it spread it wings and swim off.

Encourage students to form questions before instruction begins. The Reticular Activation System in their brains responds best to questions and will help the students pay attention to what is important. Have your children read the questions in the homework before the instruction is given.

Students can ask what the focus of the lesson will be for the day. If they know the goal of the teacher, they will be able to pay better attention.

There are many secrets about teachers that will help students attend. Students have said, “I wish I would have known about this when I was younger.” I am offering a seminar on August 5th in which I will share the Seven Secrets About Teachers that Every Student Needs to Know. It’s FREE.

Join the Zoom early so you don’t miss a thing. Click on the link so you don’t miss the session:

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Aug 5, 2021 10:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

This session will be helpful for middle to college students, parents, and teachers.

I look forward to seeing you then.

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