Ask a Waldorf Teacher: How Can I Improve Focus in My Third Grader?

Every Wednesday our members get to ask Waldorf teacher Diane Power questions about their homeschooling experience, Waldorf education and more. These Q & A sessions are posted on the member blog every week so you have access to all the past Q & A sessions. Become a member of Earthschooling to get your questions answered personally every week.

Question from Member: Can you suggest some activities to improve focus/will for grade 3? I know part of her distraction is 9-year-change but she has always had a hard time focusing on not prefered activities (don’t we all). Currently 10-minute math practice is taking 1-2 hours. Once she decides to focus on it the work is done in minutes. Ty! – J.L

Response from Diane: Handwork, flute/recorder work, form drawing, beeswax/clay modeling – these activities will all help with focus. And morning is the preferred time for head work, especially new material. Movement before, during, and after a lesson can help, too. I wonder…have you looked deeper into why she extends 10 minutes to 1-2 hours? It sounds like she understands the work and is able to solve the problems. Are there other activities that she prefers not to do?

Reply from MemberShe says it is boring. I asked her how she pictures for example 7 in her mind. Her response was the numeral. We have added in a lot of number sense and quality activities. We have done movement. I’ve done out loud and on paper. Copy from the board on paper… I have tried to move on to other math but it stresses her out trying to hold it all in her head to the point she reverses the numbers so I really thinks she needs to just memorize the basic facts before she starts long multiplication. We tried do do carrying and borrowing last year and she just couldn’t so we memorized add and subtract facts then she was able to carry and borrow but it was the same agony of hours sitting waiting for her to do the math. Maybe that is just her process? I feel bad for her though and we aren’t getting main lessons done or handwork for sitting all day doing math in the morning.

Reply from Diane: Perhaps you can change up your morning schedule. Start the day with movement, move on to your main lesson block. After a quick snack, some outside time. Handwork is nice to do after being outside and then do some math. You could look into some tricks with working with children that have dyscalculia to see if that could be helpful. Have a multiplication chart handy for her to use. Try to take the stress away. Ask her for ideas on how to make it fun – less boring! Ask her to describe what happens (what she’s thinking & saying to herself) while she solves a problem.

Reply from Member the Next Day: Under 9 minutes today! Thank you! Also got in painting and chevron finger weave from earthschool textiles block and our main lessons, outside time and lots of other stuff! Thank you thank you!

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