Family Magazine

Ways That Daydreaming Help Kids to Pay Attention

By Maliasa

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“Are you listening?” “

“Watch were you are going!”

“Stop dreaming and. . . “

We spend a lot of time telling children to pay attention. They may be struggling to focus on the task in front of them. Often we do not appreciate the value of daydreaming and reflecting. That reflecting and introspection is vital for a child’s emotional and moral development is perhaps no news. But it actually promotes the skill that we “blame” the child for lacking – the capacity to focus on the world outside our heads.

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang says that our brains have two operating systems:

  • Looking out system – orients attention to the external environment, allowing a child  to get stuff done.
  • Looking in system –  directs a child inward, setting his thoughts free to wander.

Brain scans show that when a child is asked to rest and relax, he engages in a rich internal world. When there is no pressure to pay attention to the world around him, he imagines the future, sort out his feelings and remembers what happened before.

Yet when he engages in the “looking in” mode, he makes meaning out of the experiences and information he met when he was “looking out.”

So providing a child with opportunities to daydream and to “look in” is vital. This is often the opposite approach that is used in school, where even young children are asked to constantly pay attention.

So, strangely a lack of time to daydream may even reduce a child’s capacity to pay attention when he needs to. The skill to become absorbed in our own thoughts is linked to the skill to focus intently on the world outside.

Like most things in life – it is about finding a balance between being focused and to introspect. And to be aware of when you are concentrating on something, “think diving”, and when you are reflecting, “cloud jumping”.

Provide time and space for lots of Cloud Jumping!


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