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Article: Does Your Child Have Learning Fatigue?

Does Your Child Have Learning Fatigue?

How to Balance the Mind. A Practice for Young Children & Teens

By Stephanie Ray, BCN, Board Certified Naturopath & Mom

Learning fatigue is real for our children. There are times to step away from single focus activities, and it can take a parent's help to establish a practice of doing so. Based on the work of David Kaplan’s directed attention¹ balancing the mind has far-reaching consequences for life-learners. Returning to nature provides a child with homeostasis by using diffused thinking as well. So far studies show that children need both directed and diffused learning to have a healthy relationship with education².

  1. Go outside to a park, a beach, or even a patio with a potted plant with your child or teen.
  2. Let your child have whatever thoughts are there. Allow them to give the thought space, all the chaotic thoughts are okay. Tell your child it is okay to have them. Begin to ask them what they notice in the moment. Let the brooding thoughts clear themselves. If you have ever practiced mindfulness meditation, this should be familiar to you.
  3. After 5 minutes or so, set the stage for your child to be gently distracted by soft fascinations. Ask your child to notice the wind blowing over her/his face, the clouds passing overhead, leaves rustling, a rock formation, whatever grabs their attention. This creates a mental environment with no cognitive pollutants. It opens your child up to mental restoration. This can be for 5 minutes or 30 minutes.
  4. In the last step, actively engage with your child reflecting on their goals and plans, small or large. This will help put things in perspective. The day’s chaoticness can slip away. The mind is brought back to balance and stress leaves. This is where directed attention is restored. Now ready for the next round of learning.

Ultimately, as a parent, our “single focus” can be used for ensuring our children’s success and hope for their happiness and fulfillment in their future. We can trust ourselves and take a breath too, practicing some ‘diffused focus’ ourselves and seeing everything with more light and possibility.


¹ Steven Kaplan. The Restorative Benefits of Nature: Toward an Integrative Framework. Department of Psychology, University of Michigan.

² Barbara Oakley. A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science. Published July 31st 2014. The Penguin Group