strategies to build attentionIt 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

Mrs. Hall taught students how to bracket their distracting thoughts, showing them how to classify thoughts into three groups:

Now:  thoughts that promote full involvement in the lesson.
Later:  appropriate to pursue later, for example, an interesting related idea, a clarifying question or an important task to perform.
Never:  not an appropriate thought, for example, a discouraging or negative thought such as “I can’t get this,” or “This is stupid.”

She showed the students how to visualize a container such as a chest or jewelry box to put their “Later” thoughts into until a better time to think about them and how to visualize putting their “Never” thoughts into a trashcan!

Because Mrs. Hall understood how important visualization is for building comprehension while listening, she taught her students how to anchor visualizations.  As she began a discussion of the reading, she had them direct their attention to a particular spot in the classroom, for example, the door, the chalkboard, or a picture on the wall. The spot became the visual and spatial storing place for the details of the reading that she wanted them to remember.  When she wanted a student to recall an important fact from the reading, Mrs. Hall had the student look at the spot that anchored the information to jog their memory.

For students who had great difficulty listening, she realized the training had to go deeper.  She thought of the Samonas Auditory Intervention program.  She knew that some students have auditory inefficiencies that cause them to become very fatigued when listening and they eventually run out of the energy needed to pay attention.  The Samonas program helps students develop skills such as phonemic awareness, attention, memory, concentration, organization, social communication, verbal and written expression, comprehension, body awareness, and frustration tolerance.  Samonas therapeutic listening plans are individually developed to target a student’s unique learning needs.

Miller Educational Excellence specializes in helping students of all ages who are struggling with one or more school subjects.  We open the student’s belief system to success and provide all the effective, research-validated educational programs and tools available to quickly propel the student to academic achievement.  To receive our newsletter, contact us.