How do people know you are paying attention? What do you look like when paying attention? How do you feel when you pay attention? All too often, students with ADD and ADHD can’t answer these questions.
In order to really get control of their ability to devote the right amount of attention to a task at the right time, students must understand how their body looks and feels when they pay attention.
The following role playing activity can encourage students’ insights by drawing their attention to the body language that illustrates strong listening.
Have your child play the role of the speaker, reading two or three paragraphs from a book or article. The parent will take the role of the listener. As you listen to what your child is reading, talk about the behaviors that show you are listening (see below for a list), and use a digital recorder to record your observations. Read more
Most students with ADHD do not think about how much attention it takes to complete a task, but recognizing how much concentration is required to complete an activity is invaluable to obtaining good results!
The goal of this activity is to show students how to pay attention and also how to sustain concentration until a task is successfully completed.
To give your child an idea of what it actually means to “pay attention,” use a metaphor such as adjusting the volume dial on a radio. Using a scale such as 1 to 10, develop reference points so that your child has a basis for comparison.
For example, a setting of “1” indicates a person has the volume turned down so low they can’t hear what’s being broadcast. A “10” indicates the person can loudly and clearly hear everything being broadcast.
Paying attention requires that students maintain differing levels of energy for different types of academic tasks. To increase your child’s awareness of the energy needed to perform different academic tasks, first start by using the radio metaphor to help him or her understand the amount of energy needed for various everyday tasks such as brushing teeth and watching a television program. Read more
Individuals with ADHD and ADD often have difficulty with Executive Skills, also called Executive Functions. These are the skills that help us manage and direct our lives. They are analogous to the activities that an executive engages in to manage and direct a company or business.
Executive skills allow us to plan and organize our behavior, make well-considered decisions, overrule immediate desires in favor of longer-term goals, take conscious control of our emotions, and monitor our thoughts in order to work more efficiently and effectively.
There are a number of different theories and definitions of the skills that constitute executive functions. The following is a compilation that illustrates the full range of skills needed to effectively manage our lives.
Planning and prioritizing
The ability to create a plan to complete a task or to develop an approach to achieving a goal. This skill includes making decisions about what to direct attention toward and the ordering of the steps needed to achieve the goal.
It was a hot, sticky afternoon in Mrs. Hall’s 5th grade classroom. The students were sleepy and Mrs. Hall was convinced they weren’t paying attention. Mrs. Hall knew that listening is an active, conscious process that has a huge impact on learning. She realized there were strategies she could use to wake up the students’ brains, interest and ability to listen.
She had them listen to classical music. Classical music by composers such as Mozart and Tchaikovsky encourages the brain to enter a relaxed, focused state which is highly conducive to learning. This has been termed “The Mozart Effect.”
She had them take movement breaks. A few minutes of movement exercises at transition times can re-energize the nervous system for better listening, attention, and learning. A great source of powerful movement techniques is Hands On: How to use Brain Gym in the Classroom available at http://braingym.com/html/our_products.html.