We need to attend at school, at home, while eating, reading, listening and moving.
Perhaps the most valuable gift you can give your children is your attention. Probably the most useful tool they can acquire is the ability to attend. Some tips for encouraging attention:
- Practice whole body listening. Remind children to use their eyes, ears and bodies to listen.
- Stop before eating. Discuss where the food came from, how it got to the table and say thank you! Teach children good table manners and to be attentive when passing or requesting food.
- Discuss being attentive while riding a bike, getting in and out of the car, crossing a street, etc. Each activity requires attention to how we use our bodies safely.
- To improve attention in school, get a wiggle cushion, chewy or fidget to keep the body alert and focused.
- Use ear muffs to filter noise while reading.
- Use a study carrel for homework or taking a test.
- Use images to help children stay focused while doing a writing assignment or following directions.
- Encourage children to create images in their heads while reading, then draw a picture of what they read.
- Remind children of your expectations, especially when entering a quiet zone. Limit their sitting time at the beginning, and slowly increase over time. Praise them for their attentive behavior.
- Learn an instrument. Practice daily for a few minutes and increase the practice time slowly.
- Remember attention is a learned skill. It requires practice.
Ilana M. Danneman, PT, is the Director of Education, Innovation and Product Selection at Fun and Function. Reach out to her with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org