• Miriam Morales

learning to focus

It’s no secret that in our world of digital devices with never ending disruptions, we’re losing the ability to concentrate. What we might fail to realize is that this is the only world our children have ever known. They’ve hardly had the chance to learn concentration through observation because they see us adults do it less and less.


Because our children are always plugged in (most of the time for good reasons like completing their homework or listening to music), they are constantly ‘checking in’ and as a result growing fatigued from always '

being on'.


That’s why the best thing you can give your children this year is the gift of focus. An activity like music requires practice alone and since they don’t exactly know how to sit still for 15 minutes at a time, it can be quite challenging. Individual focus is very different from group sports because they aren’t running around with a team or watching a soccer ball that goes back and forth. Well surely you aren’t suggesting they never participate in group activities, are you? Quite the contrary. Activities done in groups teach teamwork, social skills and coordination. However, that doesn’t diminish that they desperately need to ALSO learn to concentrate on solo endeavors as well.


Here’s the thing, they cannot get immersed in any one thing if they can’t still to engage with it. So when our children might say that they don’t want to practice or read, it’s often that they don’t want to face the terrible idea of focusing for an extended period of time. They need your help to do that but they cannot ask you for something they don’t know that they need. I guarantee that as they have work up to concentrating for extended period of time with distractions removed, they will engage with whatever is placed before them.


My advice for setting new habits in 2019, is to build practice time into an early nightly routine.

  • Incorporate practice after dinner and before preparing for bed.

  • Take away their phone/devices and help them to incrementally work up to a minimum of 15 minutes.

  • Make a small sign to remind siblings that they are in a focused time.

  • If they start to grow tired after 5 minutes, use the 5 more rule: “Can you play that piece 5 more times?” or “Just do 5 more minutes.”

  • Tell them that you will read for the time that you practice and model what focusing looks like for them.

The more they do this, it will not only become a practice routine but a healthy ritual where they are freed from distractions and interruptions before a good night’s rest. They will be more productive, less stressed and ultimately more mindful.