Training Our Children to See

“The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them” (Proverbs 20:12).

I’ve always been amazed at what children don’t see. They can step over an obstacle in the middle of the floor and not even notice it was there. Clothes on the floor, lidless toothpaste tubes, over-flowing wastebaskets – all are apparently invisible to many children.

Children need to be trained to see before they can learn to take initiative. Plant different opportunities throughout the house: a shoe in the middle of the hall, a dripping faucet, a dirty dish on the table, a milk jug out of the fridge, the front door open, toys all over the living room floor, a newspaper spread out on the sofa, etc.

Then send your children on an “opportunity hunt.” How many tasks can they find to accomplish in the next fifteen minutes? Make this a contest, if you want, and offer a small prize to the winner, or have the children search and work together, with a special treat for everyone when the hunt is completed.

As the children discover an opportunity to take initiative, they should complete the task and then report to you to tell you what they have done. They can then go back to hunting for the next opportunity, while you write down on a white or blackboard, if possible, the jobs each person finds and completes.

If they take this hunt seriously, your children will probably find more than just the tasks you purposely set up throughout the house. Applaud them when they discover these extra opportunities, and add them to your list of completed jobs.

After fifteen minutes, gather everyone together and review the list of tasks they completed.  Discuss the opportunities to serve that come up during the day — items that are out of place, people that might need help, areas of the house or yard that need tidying. Talk about how God has given us eyes to better serve Him, and how He has called us to serve Him by serving others.

Share a small treat with everyone while you talk. When done, watch to see if any children take the initiative to help clean up. If they do, praise them! If no one does, stop and instruct them, and have them help you.

Throughout the day, and in the days to come, declare 5-minute “opportunity hunts.” Have the children look for ways they can help, and continue to record and discuss the jobs they complete. If desired, offer a small prize occasionally for the most jobs completed. Help children who still have trouble seeing needs. Walk through the house with them and ask questions that will lead them to tasks they can complete. With training, children will learn to see needs and meet them.

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  1. This is a wonderful idea! Thanks for all your encouragement!

    A few times I have invited my children to pick up things that are out of place in the livingroom (especially on the floor) and said something such as this: “Let’s see who can find and put away the item I’m thinking of….it’s somewhere in this room, and it’s not put away in the right place.” Then, after a few minutes, I’ll let them know if anyone got the item. If not, they get another opportunity to try to find it, possibly with some hints from Mom. We usually have a little treat afterward.

  2. Thank you for this timely post! Every day, I wonder if my children can see and hear! I’ll certainly heed your advice. I believe that my three girls (and even my 2YO son) will enjoy the competitive hunt.

  3. I think this is a great idea! I am going to try using it this week with my little ones.

  4. I think this is a great idea not only for my children, but for myself. Many times I get bogged down and it’s a great idea to take some time and walk through the house and point out to myself the things that need to be done and write them down where I can see them (my kitchen dry erase board suggested from a previous post) so I’m thinking about getting them done.

  5. Wonderful idea. We just had a family reunion this weekend and the children did their first scavenger hunt with their dad. They won and loved it, they have been asking for more ever since. This is so timely (and needed) for us.

  6. Ooh, I love this! Thank you so much for this great idea.

  7. I love that the tasks are called “opportunities”. This kind of thinking will stick with them throughout adulthood, when opportunities are even more impactful.

  8. Excellent idea! I was planning to work on this skill over our Christmas break this year. Now, I have a trick 😉

  9. This is Awesome! Thank you Pam!

  10. In our home, we call this concept “Observe and Serve.” The children are now familiar with the term and some of the many ways it can be applied. But, it’s a great little catch phrase that’s easy to use when someone sees something that needs doing (observes), and then gets it done (serves). The praise that follows after one has observed and served is a blessing that fills our children’s hearts that is visible to any onlooker : )

  11. Joan, that’s a great phrase to use! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Pam, you are SO creative with your ideas!!! This is such a wonderful idea and something I know would train my children after just a few “exercises”. And of course, if the “blindness” begins to set in again, we could do the little “hunt” again to refresh their memories.
    I have 5 children, so there is no need for me to “plant” anything around here! 😉

    But I certainly experience the children totally missing things out that are plain for me to see. I didn’t actually think of our minds being trained on different things and as a result, we see different things. As a mother, I am very in tune to the messes–my children just aren’t [yet]. Thank you!

  13. My wonderful wife pointed this out for me, and I think it’s an incredible idea! So simple, and yet one of those “why the heck didn’t I think of this before??” ideas!

    Thank you!

  14. I really love this concept! what a great activity to teach basic responsibilities and helpfulness!

  15. Thank you so much for your wisde words. So many times I have wondered “Why in the world can’t my kids see what is right in front of their face?”. As usual, it boils down to training. I love it! My expectations can be so high or just plain wrong, so this is a great realization!!

  16. Janet S – I love that idea, too! Goes along with I Spy, a game they love!

  17. This is terrific! Thanks for the idea!

  18. My husband calls this “I-Spy”. The “I” stands for initiative, which means “seeing what needs to be done, and doing it.”

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