Teaching kids how to focus with a drawing board or buddha boardHow do I help my kids/students focus and stay on task?!

If getting kids to focus is an issue, have you ever wondered if they actually understand how?!   They certainly know the word, but do they know the actions needed in their bodies?  Can they distinguish un-focused and focused as mind-body states that they can move themselves in and out of?

You get my point.  If you asked a child to throw a ball or write or add, you would show them how and support them with ways of practicing the actions again and again.  Accordingly, To Focus is a verb, so like any other body-mind skills, kids need to both learn how and to practice.  

To support this process, my philosophy is always to look for fun and compelling experience that requires them to focus. The water drawing board  (sometimes called Buddha Board)  is so effective at doing this, you’ll be amazed. When children watch the drawing change as the water dries, they automatically and organically slow down and focus their full attention on seeing the lines very slowly disappear. They become like cats watching a mouse hole :).

Once they are engaged and focused, I ask them to identify how they feel in their bodies by noticing:
How are you breathing?

What’s your “inner speed” or how fast do you feel you are going on the inside?

How does your body feel?

What’s going on in your head?

What words would you use to describe how you are being right now?

I follow-up by explaining that the way they are being – is the way their parents and teachers want them to be when they are asked to focus and stay on task.  I make sure I see the ‘ah-ha’ in their eyes when they connect focus as an action they can do in their bodies.

And, so kids can practice returning to this way of being when they lose it, be sure to leave the board nearby.  I invite anyone who feels scattered and unable to sustain their focus to ‘watch board again’ to re-focus themselves.   This empowers kids to practice regulating themselves and feeling confident about doing so!

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