Don’t Tell me Children Can’t Concentrate

Children, when interested, can and will spend more time with their project than I believe most adults could before taking a break. Watch a toddler wrap up and around a toilet roll with what appears to us no goal, but on he plays for almost thirty minutes. Learning the complexities of movement, the textures as the toilet roll becomes weaker, how it becomes stronger when bunched up or can all of a sudden become a shape, a ball, it tears… I could go on but you get my point.

I had just finished a walk across the beach with my children who were collecting shells. Instead of being bored and wanting to move onto something else, my children were saying ‘wow, look at the colours in this shell, do you love it?’ They would have stayed far longer than I could. Although I had a lovely romantic family stroll and enjoyed it, us adults are boring and hit home long before the little people. Of course this is because we have an understanding of what we need to do other than collect shells, like feed little people, clean little people, bed little people, clean up the mess that ever surrounds little people. And then deal with work stuff, bills, shopping, laundry, our own ‘hobbies’ in our house – such as researching and growing our own food – and of course having a grown up conversation about our research if we are lucky.

I was a lucky child. I was a ‘mums at the bingo and dads at the pub child’. I mean this without sarcasm, as I loved playing alone. I would get kicked out on a Saturday morning at 9 years old
and go to the beach for the entire day. I would spend hours pulling myself through the water on my hands, legs floating behind me. I would climb the rocks, play in the marsh land and look for crabs. I would get home at maybe 6 o’ clock, having barely eaten all day. It was the same on a Sunday, and even better when it came to the six week holidays. From the ages of maybe 9 to 11 (maybe 12), I was wild and free. Of course I am not condoning neglect, as it has many more consequences of a negative nature than a positive one, but the beach and later the woods were what made me happy, and I am grateful for that interrupted time in which I was solely being me. I discuss this because I remember being satisfied for hours by simplicity.

My little girl is 3 years old and likes putting things inside of her handbag, stopping, taking something out and then refilling it. She will fiddle and draw for a very long time for her age. Her brain is figuring out how to fit things together, her motor skills are forming, and she is self-learning skills that our psychology of development books could not even term, although they would like to. It is impossible to understand fully what a child learns through self-focused play. As we know, learning a skill is complex and a seed is sewn a long time before coming to fruition. The time when this happens can never be properly identified.

My son is four years old and not as delicate as my little girl. If there was a skate park or parkour setting small enough, I know where he would be. His skills in action have been fantastic from very early on. He had his balance bike at a year old and could zoom around the streets, as people would look on in amazement. I allow bikes and scooters in the living room much to many other people’s distaste. Again he would play ongoing for twenty to thirty minutes at a time, learning motion and self-movement, and how we manipulate the areas of space and objects around us. Always learning. Today it takes forever to get anywhere because the street is his jungle, so he constantly climbs and jumps anything he feels brave enough to have a go at.

My eldest boy is 15 and he can research a subject for hours. He once made a map throughout the prehistoric ages, colour-coding each area where certain prehistoric animals where found; it was complex and took him forever, but he loved what he was doing. School could have never have engaged him in such an activity when he was only 11, however his self-drive accomplished essays that I took from university sites in the US, asking a question about civilisations of the past and he would do a fantastic job, because he was interested in the subject matter. I must admit his knowledge surpasses mine on our ancient culture. If I need to know information on politics or ancient geography and culture, I ask him or my partner, who spends hours with him discussing these topics.

At school every report I had said, ‘can not pay attention’. Every report my son had before being removed from that hell hole, said ‘can not pay attention’. Every report my partner had said, ‘can not pay attention’. My partner is a questioner, and also a ‘that does not make sense’ remarker, which drives people insane, and I am sure it had this effect on his teachers. In the middle of any conversation he will happily say, ‘wait, that is bullshit’. I see others’ faces, but I adore it; I adore him and how he looks at everything, his mind naturally questions things and makes connections that I never could. I ashamedly can be quite gullible; I will read something and go, how cool is this, and he rips it apart in seconds. He is not negative though, he is just real. He will explain why he thinks something is ridiculous and pull it back to where things make sense, so I believe anyway. He is anything but someone who can not pay attention.

The point here is that children in particular can’t pay attention to boring nonsense, but when inspired can achieve amazing things, for amazing lengths of time. All children and adults have very different skill sets and interests, and school today cannot satisfy their needs. I am a firm believer that play is learning. As a disclaimer, not to trigger anyone who may feel I am uninvolved with my children’s learning or play, is that I spend most of my time with them, constantly on hand to aid them in their development whenever they require support. I also start activities like writing, reading, and math in several ways. Learning can also be brought into any situation, phonics can be brought into every conversation, counting in every activity. We do not have to sit children down and make them repeat numbers and letters to teach them, but we can be inspired by what inspires them and grasp our opportunities to bring knowledge into their world of learning and play.

The answer given to us for these self-driven children who want to play their own way is to diagnose them, drug them and remove any spirit they may have. Spirit today is a misunderstood word, due to new age apathetic ideologies, but if you have been lucky enough to be around older people they will tell you exactly what spirit means – it means life. Whenever my children are what is deemed ‘naughty’ in public, you will often hear an older lady or gentleman remark, ‘I like them with spirit’ or ‘they are full of spirit’. Spirit means to have something in you that makes you move, that makes you tick, that gives you drive, passion and a willingness to achieve and succeed, for something that you believe is worthy of your focus, energy and time.

You can’t take thirty children and give them one task. Many of them can’t tolerate sitting and being bored during this task in which they have no interest, so they sit fiddling, looking at the wall, chatting and distracting others. They tell us these children need help, that they need drugs that alter their brains function, that they start being diagnosed with ADHD, and progress to ASD, then Bi-polar then Schizophrenia, at each level medicated to the hilt. This is to take any spirit and desire of life away from them. Anything that will make these full of spirit children question this shitty fucking world we live in is taken away from them.

Do not tell me children can’t concentrate, but I will tell you, we give them nothing worth concentrating on. If we do not reclaim the spirit of our children fast, we have lost the spirit of our entire past.

 

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