To be able to concentrate we have to block out external stimuli, such as noises and other people in the world around us and remain focused on the important information at that time. Having the ability to sustain concentration is vital, allowing us to repeatedly practise actions and allow for skill development.
Allow heavy work activities prior to tasks requiring concentration. Activities that encourage a pushing or pulling movement provide feedback to the muscles to help feel calm. For example, chair/wall push ups, marching, animal walks, jumping on the spot.
Break down instructions into smaller parts e.g. 1 or 2 instructions at a time instead of one long instruction, grading appropriately to their needs. Ask for instructions to be repeated back to you if you are unsure if they have understood what is required. Eye contact must be gained before giving instructions.
Allow regular movement breaks and incorporate these into the child’s day.
Allow access to a sports cap water bottle for use throughout the day as this also provides heavy work input that will help calm your child.
Use different coloured trays, pencil boxes and/or desk tidies to keep belongings organised and reduce the need to search for equipment.
Allow a small discreet fidget toy to help with concentration: e.g. fidget toys such as a tangle or a key ring.
Set a timeframe for activities to be completed within. A visual timer can be beneficial to keep the child on task. Initially the timer may distract, however the novelty will wear off after a short time.
Use of visual cue cards can support transition between activities, and encourage focus on one activity before moving on.
Provide praise and encouragement for each task that you child accomplishes or attempts to accomplish.
Consider the environment to maximise attention e.g. noise levels, where you complete activities that require attention e.g. not facing out of a window or near large visual input.
Occupational Therapy Department
Please ensure that adult supervision is given when completing these activities.