Something I hear over and over is that children love routine. I know this but am not very good at creating routines. I am always trying to multi-task and accomplish things while at home all day with my kids. My older son understands my ‘flighty’ personality and seems to be able to still successfully complete the task at hand. A lot of the basic skills learned about focusing start at a very early age and I think good attention habits were built before he turned three while he was still in daycare.
My boys started staying at home with me at the ages of 2.5 years and 5 months. Since my second son really didn't go to daycare long, he never had to deal with the structure and routines usually learned at daycare…which is the fortunate part because we are also all much healthier since we’re out of the daycare environment. But the unfortunate part is that I'm noticing that my second son (now 2.5 years old) doesn't have the same ability to focus and complete basic tasks like my older one could at this tender age. And it’s sad because I think it is somewhat due to my inability to foster strict routines.
BUT…. I am starting to see improvements since we're incorporating more structure in our day. Now that we’re introducing regular play with Busy Bags along with exposure to consistent chores as well as play with other “projects”, I am hopeful this will greatly benefit all of us!
In speaking about creating “Busy Bag Time”, here are a few suggestions for use in your home:
Announce to the child that “It’s busy bag time” and have the child sit at a solid work surface. Present the new activity bag and spend a few minutes reviewing contents as well as the instructions sheet*. This should be sufficient for the contents to turn into a self-directed activity from then on. Set the timer; start with 10 or so minutes and let them play. As they play with the busy bags more regularly, try setting the timer in longer increments. Always supervise the child but encourage them to play independently.
One of the rewards of this type of play is that the child will learn to pay attention for longer periods of time if you regularly provide these learning tools. They will also learn to build creativity -- as they complete the original task, they may explore new ways to play with items in the bag.
In the beginning, stick to your guns about waiting for the timer to ding before for activity cleanup. Focusing is a skill and, like any skill, some people find it easier than others as well as requiring repeat practice to develop.
*An ‘instructions sheet’ is included with all items purchased from Busy Bag Central.