Happy Freebie Friday, everybody! If you are new to our page, we release a new free resource every week. This week, we have a resource for all of you teachers and parents who are trying to help a child learn to stay focused, also known as sustained attention.
Sustained Attention is the skill that refers to being able to stay focused on a task for an extended period of time, even when it is a non-preferred task. We have all had those days where we just cannot seem to stay focused, but for some of our kids, this is a consistent struggle. If you feel like this is the case for your child, check out our blogs How to Teach Your Student to Self-Monitor Their Attention and How Long Homework Should Really Be Taking.
This Week's Resource
This week, we are giving away our Sustained Attention anchor charts and monitoring activity. You can use these charts to help explicitly teach a student what being focused looks and feels like. To monitor, decide on an interval of time (we usually start around 15-20 minutes, but for kids who struggle with attention you may want to start with a smaller interval) and set a timer. Every time the timer goes off, you and your child should track if they were focused or distracted (use the anchor charts to help guide this conversation). If your child was distracted, also note what the distracter was so you can look for patterns and work to eliminate them.
Once you have a baseline of how often your child is on task when the timer goes off, set a goal. If they are usually on task 50% of the time at a 15-minute interval, try to reach for 75%. Once they hit that, increase the interval of time to 20 minutes. Each child will have a different experience and need different goals, but you should always be working towards longer/more frequent rates of attention.
You should also be working on building independence with this activity. As the child learns to identify when he/she is distracted, have them start to monitor on their own. As the child becomes more independent, they should be able to redirect their attention after the timer goes off independently.
What Challenges Might Come Up?
If you are in a classroom and do not want to have timers going off or have to do this with only a handful of children, give them an oral cue to track their attention. Every few minutes, use a keyword and ask your kids to reflect on whether they were paying attention or not. This can be done silently, and you can choose what times you need them to evaluate themselves.
This works well if you have a child with a goal or accommodation around attention. Instead of singling him or her out in front of the class, you can monitor their attention but make it a whole class activity. Chances are, more than just that one student will need the redirection anyway and it is a learning opportunity for all students to practice self-monitoring and attention redirection.
This is Great! How Do I Get It?
Oh rats, this Freebie expired. However, we cannot wait to be launching a full Executive Functioning Resource and Training soon.