15 Strategies For Managing Attention Problems

15 Strategies For Managing Attention Problems



The following strategies are offered for​ enhancing attention and​ managing attention problems. This listing is​ by no means exhaustive, but rather is​ meant as​ a​ place to​ begin. the​ best resources for​ strategies are the​ creative, inventive minds of​ enlightened assessment professionals, teachers and​ parents, in​ partnership with the​ students they serve. Together they can create multiple alternative strategies.

1. Take the​ Mystery Away

The first and​ perhaps most important management strategy is​ to​ insure that all students understand how attention works and​ identify their particular profiles of​ attention strengths and​ weaknesses. Then, students should be taught attention management strategies.

2. Understand Consistent Inconsistency

Teachers and​ parents should understand that the​ inconsistency of​ children with attention problems is​ not evidence of​ a​ poor attitude or​ lack of​ motivation. it​ is​ a​ part of​ their biologically based attention dysfunction, and​ is​ beyond their easy control.

3. Explore the​ Option of​ Medication

For many children and​ adolescents, medication can be helpful in​ dealing with attentional difficulties. Medication can improve mental alertness and​ the​ intensity and​ duration of​ concentration. in​ addition, it​ may diminish impulsivity and​ hyperactivity. the​ student and​ his parents may wish to​ explore this option with his physician.

4. Allow for​ Movement and​ Breaks

It is​ helpful for​ students who have problems with inconsistent alertness and​ mental effort to​ be provided with opportunities to​ move around. for​ example, at​ school, teachers could ask the​ student to​ erase the​ board, collect papers or​ take a​ message to​ the​ office. at​ home, parents and/or the​ student could schedule regular breaks and​ change work sites. That is, the​ student could work several minutes at​ the​ kitchen table and​ several minutes on the​ living room floor. Each time the​ location is​ changed, the​ student may experience a​ burst of​ mental energy. Additionally, students may need to​ be doing something with their hands while seated. They may doodle, roll a​ piece of​ clay or​ perform some other manual tasks that enhance their alertness and​ arousal.

5. Vary Instructional Strategies

Teachers should use a​ variety of​ instructional strategies and​ these should be changed approximately every 15 to​ 20 minutes. for​ example, they could deliver information for​ 15 minutes via lecture. This strategy could be followed by small group work or​ cooperative learning for​ 20 minutes. Next, students could engage in​ individual seatwork or​ watch a​ video.

6. Use Signals

The teacher and​ parents should have a​ private way of​ signaling students when they are tuned out. for​ example, a​ gentle tap on the​ shoulder may be effective. Also, the​ student's teachers and​ parents may need to​ signal him when something important is​ about to​ be stated. Looking right at​ him, his teacher or​ parent could say, "Now listen very carefully. I am about to​ give you important instructions about tomorrow's test.”

7. Leverage Interests

Attention is​ enhanced when interest is​ heightened. Thus, students should be encouraged to​ read, write and​ talk about subjects in​ which they are interested. Additionally, students' attention is​ enhanced when information is​ personally relevant to​ them. for​ example, if​ students need to​ learn a​ chronological timetable, the​ teacher could begin with having the​ students develop a​ chronological timetable of​ the​ important events in​ their own lives.

8. Minimize Noise & Other Distractions

Students who are easily distracted should benefit from a​ structured auditory environment. They may need preferential seating near the​ front of​ the​ classroom so that noise and​ distractions from other students are minimized.

9. Develop Previewing and​ Planning Skills

Teachers and​ parents can help students develop previewing and​ planning skills by requiring them to​ formulate plans for​ writing reports and​ completing projects. for​ example, when completing a​ book report, the​ students could submit plans for​ how they are going to​ accomplish this task. They will likely need specific instruction, followed by modeling, then guided practice, and​ finally feedback on performance. the​ concept of​ previewing should be explained to​ the​ students and​ they should be aware of​ the​ fact that the​ activities they are engaging in​ will help them develop previewing/ planning skills. it​ is​ helpful if​ they are first given practical examples of​ planning, such as​ planning for​ a​ party.

10. Use Behavior Modification and​ Self-Assessment

The use of​ behavior modification and​ self-assessment strategies can be helpful in​ increasing desired behaviors (e.g., task completion) and/or decreasing behavior problems (e.g., impulsive blurting out during class). the​ specific behaviors that need to​ be changed should be identified (e.g., completes reading classwork; raises hand before answering questions; brushes teeth before going to​ bed; puts dirty clothes in​ laundry). the​ specific consequences for​ behavior change should also be identified. the​ consequence for​ positive behaviors must be more rewarding to​ the​ student than failure to​ complete the​ positive behavior. for​ example, if​ the​ child is​ allowed to​ stay up an​ extra 15 minutes in​ the​ evenings, this behavior must be more rewarding than leaving his/her dirty clothes on the​ bathroom floor. Additionally, performance of​ the​ targeted behavior must be the​ only way that the​ student is​ able to​ obtain the​ reward. in​ the​ previous example, the​ child is​ only able to​ stay up the​ extra 15 minutes at​ night if​ he puts his dirty laundry in​ the​ designated place. School-home notes can be used to​ communicate back and​ forth between home and​ school. in​ both settings, charts and​ graphs can be used to​ monitor progress toward the​ goal. Students should be encouraged to​ assess their own behavior in​ addition to​ being assessed by the​ adult. They could be given an​ additional reward for​ accurate self-assessment.

11. Discourage Frenetic Work Patterns

To help students refrain from rushing through their work, teachers and​ parents could avoid making statements such as, "You can go out to​ recess as​ soon as​ you finish your assignment" or​ "You can watch television when you finish your homework." Offers such as​ these may inadvertently encourage students to​ work too quickly and​ carelessly.

12. Get Organized

A notebook with three sections labeled "Work to​ be Completed," "Work Completed" and​ "Work to​ be Saved" may be used to​ help students organize their assignments. Color-coding notebooks for​ different subjects may also be helpful for​ organizing work.

13. Use Daily Planners

A student should use a​ structured daily planner to​ help him organize his assignments and​ activities. a​ planner that is​ broken down by subject within the​ day and​ has sufficient room to​ write all the​ information he needs would be preferred. ELAN Publishing offers a​ number of​ good student organizers. Alternately, he may benefit from using a​ personal digital assistant (PDA).

14. Set Up a​ Home Office

At home, parents should guide their child/adolescent with setting up his/her own well-organized "office.” Parents should schedule a​ weekly time that their child/adolescent will dedicate to​ straightening up the​ office and​ making sure all office supplies are well-stocked (e.g., post-its, pencils, pens, highlighters, paper, paper clips, stapler). the​ student should find his/her best time(s) for​ studying (his/her most alert times of​ day), and​ post these times as​ his/her "Office Hours." the​ student should also experiment with different kinds of​ background noise levels that work best for​ him/her when doing homework of​ studying. Some children/adolescents actually concentrate better in​ a​ noisy environment or​ while listening to​ music while others may need to​ use ear plugs.

15. Allow Time to​ Wind Down

Many students with attention problems have trouble falling asleep at​ night. it​ is​ helpful for​ them to​ have an​ established routine for​ going to​ bed at​ night. for​ example, they could read a​ book or​ have a​ book read to​ them. They can engage in​ stretching exercises before getting in​ bed. They could drink a​ glass of​ milk or​ hot chocolate prior to​ going to​ bed. They might also listen to​ quiet, easy music while falling asleep. “White noise,” such as​ a​ fan, may also be helpful in​ facilitating sleep.




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