What did you say again? -Paying Attention

Paying attention is hard. I consider myself a well-functioning adult, and yet as I write this I am eating my lunch, and have five other tabs open on my Google Chrome window. While I’m writing I take breaks, check my facebook, have a bite of my lunch -but because this is my lunch break I consider this an acceptable level of attentiveness to the task. However, I just finished my masters degree; while I was writing my final paper I had to be much more disciplined with my attentiveness to the task. I had to close the tabs, shut myself in a quiet place, put my phone on silent, and put on some quiet music with no lyrics. These are my strategies for focus and attention.

School asks kids to pay attention -A LOT of attention- for long periods of time. Some kids seem to naturally have the ability to block out distractions. Others find their own strategies, like tapping their pencils while they listen, to help themselves attend. Some kids naturally understand that some activities require greater effort to attend to, and can shift between recess and math class with very little problem. Other kids can’t.

Anyone who works with kids, or has even met a few kids, has probably met some of these kiddos. There is the hyperactive type; the kids who can’t sit down and are climbing the walls while you make futile attempts to get them to sit still. There is the inattentive type; the kids who are lost in dreamland while the teacher goes on about something at the front (think Charlie Brown in class). Then there is the combined type; the kid who is climbing the bookshelves while lost in la-la land.

Everyone has their own tricks and strategies for helping kids with attention. Lately, I have been experimenting with a few for some differently inattentive kids here at Paths 2 Learning. For one student, some headphones and a soundtrack of running water seems to help to shut out the outside world and enable her to really get into her writing. For another student, standing on a balance board or sitting on an exercise ball helps him to keep his body busy so his mind can work. For this student, an exercise band around the legs of her chair keeps her feet busy while she listens to water sounds to help drown out the noise in her environment. All of these students have the ability to attend and focus, they just need a little help learning the strategies that help them get there!

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