Friday, November 16, 2012

Strategies to help kids focus at school

I had a teacher ask for ideas for those kids that find it difficult to sit still during structured circle time.  The teacher wanted strategies to help these kids increase their attention, while not disturbing the other kids in the classroom.  Here are a few ideas to try.  Keep in mind that it takes a lot of trial and error to find the right solution as there is no "one fits all" answer to this question.  Every child is unique and each responds to different strategies.
Have the child:
-hold squeeze toys, silky fabrics, vibrating toy, small amount of play doh
-sit on a ball, rocking chair, bean bag, sit-fit, or almost-fully deflated beach ball on a chair
-allow child to lie on stomach on floor
-do chair push ups while sitting (place palms on seat of chair and push  body upward)
-hold objects with weight (books, cans) in lap
-if seated on chair, put long sleeve shirt over the chair back, tie the bottom of the sleeves and fill with rice, sand, etc.  Have the child put the shirt arms over legs for calming input.
-tape a circle on the floor or use a carpet square as a visual cue as to where the child is to sit
- have child push or carry chair to circle area

These are just a few strategies.  So as not to overwhelm with a long list, I will post more in a later post.  Remember, it usually takes more than 1 try to assess whether a strategy is working.  Also remember, a strategy may work great for a couple of weeks and then become less effective.  At that point, it is time to try other strategies. 
I would love to hear of any effective strategies that others use in the classroom.  Feel free to comment with other ideas!

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