Attention Strategies

Many adults have trouble sitting still, getting distracted, paying attention, or being impulsive on occasion. It becomes troublesome when inattention problems are consistently occurring and impacting student learning.

There are several possible reasons for concentration issues including anxiety, depression, brain injury, learning disability, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Common symptoms of ADHD, Predominately Inattentive Type include:

  • Difficulty paying attention to details
  • Trouble organizing
  • Easily distracted
  • Often forgetful
  • Struggles to know where to start or follow through with tasks
  • Frequently loses things

If you have a student who is showing some of the above symptoms, consider the following strategies to improve focus in the classroom:

  • Provide a consistent routine, including writing the schedule on the board.
  • Arrange the learning environment in a way that reduces distraction as much as possible.
  • Ask the student to sit at the front of the classroom.
  • Give the student a stress ball to squeeze which can help with focus.
  • Some students benefit from listening to music, others prefer complete quiet (earplugs can help).
  • Use visual aids and hands-on materials as much as possible, which helps with focus and uses another part of the brain. Additionally, many students who have ADHD are visual learners and comprehend information better by seeing and doing.
  • Break assignments into small manageable pieces, two to three at most. Give timelines and specific tasks to be completed for homework assignments.
  • Allow alternative ways to assess student’s skills, such as oral tests, projects, or other creative
    ways of demonstrating knowledge of a subject.
  • Allow short scheduled breaks, this helps the student rejuvenate and refocus.
  • Allow testing in a private area.
  • Encourage use of a day planner.

For more ADHD strategies, visit the PANDA Minnesota ABE Disability website.