How to help my kids’ restless feet, itchy fingers and wandering mind?

I’ve been stewing on this post for the longest time and am glad it’s finally done! : )  As I have shared before, I value this 0-6 year old period of growth as it is the window of effortless learning. Young Children absorb information and acquire habits readily and easily. I have witnessed this personally while training my kids and read about countless of genius stories on how fast toddlers learn. I have a few main areas of concern for training my kids and this is one of them.

  • Training of Habits :Habit of Attention

I like Charlotte Mason’s clear goals and values especially in the area of Habits.

Those unfamiliar with her philosophy, do read here for a summary of her Classical Education.

She wisely concludes that training good habits are best learned early in life. It makes the future easier for everyone as mothers need not spend time nagging over untaught habits.

It may seem like a huge task, but if done little by little, one day at a time, as each tick of a clock counts away days and years, it can be done with less effort than one might think initially. In fact, teaching habits can itself become a habit!’

The below excerpt was taken from Charlotte Mason in Modern English; Summary of Home Education

Volume 1 of the Charlotte Mason Series.

  • Habit of Attention Excerpt  I am uncertain which website I had obtained this series free online. If you are interested in the full volume, you may PM me at my Growing Hearts FaceBook Page or drop a comment and your e-mail for me to contact you. If you are the original person who had posted this volume and require my permission for sharing this, please alert me so that I can give full credits to you.

As I get to know more on the rationale of her principles, I became clearer on how I should approach this area of Attention. Everything starts with what the eyes see and the mind thinks. When we allow positive, wholesome thoughts to stay, positive behaviour will result. The opposite is true, if we allow negative thoughts to stay and infest, the outflow of actions will not be beneficial or worse it will be destructive.

Therefore, the habit of attention will aid in controlling the mind from stray thoughts if our minds are put to productive use. How do I train them in this area? Here are just a few examples. Through

1.  Listening

Listening is a basic skill that is often gone unnoticed. After attending Growing Kids God’s Way course, I practise this important way of helping my children pay attention to my instructions. When I call their names, they need to reply ‘Yes, Mummy?’ If I get no response, I will go to them, bend down to their eye level to get their full eye contact. Then I proceed to give out short and clear instructions. I also require them to reply ‘ Yes, Mummy, I will do it.’ This habit of mine only developed 2 years back and it was a key step to First time obedience. The rationale for them to speak aloud the reply creates an awareness in the child to respond to what they have just uttered. By hearing it aloud, the child registers the need to act. Prior to this, it was a battle of the wills and just simply ignoring my voice. For a simple reason, I would be busy doing other matters while shouting across my instructions. When I took the time and effort to get their full attention, they get the respect they need to obey our instructions (about 80% of the time on average days ; )  ). Once they develop this habit of listening to you,they will do so for others. Other listening practices-playing of music, audio stories, sermons and the like.

listening poster bycrazyspeechworld from CrazySpeechWorld

2. Reading

This is something I am passionate about. You can read a full post here. On a daily basis, I firmly believe in reading the Bible to my children. I was part skeptical and part in wonder when I came across Charlotte Mason’s theory on reading the real thing- Not kid’s bible, but the KJV version! Her argument is that God’s living word should not be watered down and can be read aloud to as young as a four year old. This includes chapter books like Robinson Crusoe. I took the challenge and started reading to them the ENLARGED PRINT of English (but in NIV) and the Chinese Bible when A turned 4. To my amazement, he was able to comprehend what I read and subsequently was able to read a fair bit himself. I started from the Gospel of Mark. But CM mentioned to start from Genesis. I am starting this practice with J now.


3. Writing

For young children, there are many views on when it is appropriate for them to start writing. Personally, it can start from the time the baby knows how to hold a thick crayon! By this I mean drawing. : ) That is the key to good Pre-writing skills when they are taught how to hold their materials well and given the opportunity for drawing/doodling. connecting dots, drawing of different kinds of lines and just allowing freedom to draw(mother Kao kids’ drawings) are good activities to develop writing skills.

Generally, for ages 3 onwards, children are able to start some form of copy writing. Personally I do not subscribe to random copying. I try to provide meaningful materials for them to copy write. At first, I had allowed free writing for writing of words on jotter books without lines. On hindsight, it was not the wisest. My eldest has difficulty with spacing of the upper and lower case letters. Am training my second child to use a writing template for writing practice. I found a gem in Print Handwriting Template. I use this website to create my own sentences for my kids to write. It’s either verses from the Bible/wise sayings/Poems and the like.

CM (Charlotte Mason) also believes in writing excellently. Click CM Writing excerpt for her view. In another reading, she explained in detail that writing should be monitored closely and once a letter is not written well, the child should erase immediately before continuing the next letter. This is to help develop excellence in writing. Quality of work is emphasised over quantity. It was a tedious process to me, as it meant vigilant monitoring of work! However, after following her advice, I could see the fruits of labour as A was able to write decently especially the Chinese characters. Another detailed post is on how the kids learn Chinese Writing. Another way of practising writing is via mail writing.

For another comprehensive write up on Handwriting with Charlotte Mason, hop over to Practical Pages.

4. Memory Verses

I have difficulty finding a good and sustainable way of memorising Bible Verses until I discovered CM’s method. This approach relieved me of tedious memorising efforts. Also, the beauty is in how my kids remembers the verses just by simply reading aloud together! I was very encouraged by their attitude towards learning of scriptures as being a life time learning, not a competition. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how many verses you can memorise but rather after familiarising fully of a verse, we may proceed to the next. We take time to let His words soak in us through memory. The kids also learn to concentrate by listening and reading the words.

5.  Drawing and Painting

As an Art educator, I use Art to help channel the kids’ energies and develop their concentration span.

Through Freedom to Paint and creating an art space for them via Mobile Art Cot Station. Feel free to check out the rest on the category of Art and Art Process.


6. Games

At times I would plan games for them to play and learn at the same time. Read Indoor P.E games. Of course, if your kids are able to handle boardgames and card games, these will boost their attention span as well.


7. Lapbooking

This is very widely done in homeschooling families especially in the West. Click on to find out more on my Lapbooking experience.

  1. Mini Book within a DIY Book. What is that?
  2. The Tiger Who Came To Tea Lapbook Introduction (Series 1/4)
  3. My teaching process. (Series 2/4)
  4. Why I do Lapbooking and an Overview of the Lapbook. (Series 3/4)
  5. Sharing my Lesson Plans and Free Resources (Series4/4)

I sincerely hope you will enjoy and benefit from them! : )

8. Exercise 

I bring my kids to the playground daily for a good dose of sunlight and fresh air to expend their energy. This helps regulate their behaviour and increases their ability to concentrate during lesson time thereafter. At times, I also play some form of circuit training during the playground time for developing their attention. I will instruct them on the procedure-e.g. First climb the wall and slide down, then do your monkey bar, next do 10 push ups before running sideways to the lamp post.  They then take turns to be the leader creating their own circuit route.


9. Play

When kids learn to play and maintain a level of playing duration, their level of concentration span and level of dexterity at playing would increase over time. Do join me on the Come Play with Me! Series.


Lastly, it is important to follow through thoroughly the habits and monitoring the habits to maintain them. 

This is very much pertaining to the habits of Attention. For other list of habits and examples, do read here.

I hope this post may provide you with more ideas on how to practically improve your child’s attention. Having said this, I want to clarify we are very much WORK IN PROGRESS and these are just examples of my way of teaching that I find beneficial to share.

What other methods of developing good habits do you use? I would love to hear from you!

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Have a blessed day!


  1. […] Firstly, I am far from being a Chinese expert as you can read in my background post. Quite the opposite is true. Nontheless, I figured out the following on how to teach my kids by using Charlotte Mason’s principles. It is tedious at the beginning, but in time, I witnessed my eldest grow in His writing abilities and helped increased his vocabulary in a meaningful way. For a better understanding of Charlotte Mason’s method, pls read the section on point 3.Writing in this post first. […]

  2. Thank you for sharing this, Angie! It’s really helpful to learn about your experience with reading the real bible versus the “children’s” version. This is something that I have been wondering about myself!

    • Thanks for popping by! Indeed, It is really amazing as I did that since they were young, the kids are now into their 5th cover to cover bible reading. But of course in English not mandarin for independent reading… 😊

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