Common Attention Building Exercises for the Classroom


Many students have trouble paying attention in the classroom. If given a task that they find challenging or difficult, they may simply give up trying. Their reasons for having a short attention span may include:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Distracibility
  • Poor core body strength
  • An overload of visual stimuli
  • A poor working memory
  • ADHD
  • Sensory processing disorders, or simply
  • Temperament

Whatever the cause, there are ways to address the issue and help students to pay better attention. As a school-based therapist, you can take measures to improve students’ concentration.

Attention-Building Tactics

Children who struggle with paying attention often do better if they are given frequent, brief activity breaks. Such activities as bouncing on a ball, stretching or doing jumping jacks can all help an attention-challenged child to stay focused.

  • Have attention breaks. Teach students the difference between paying attention by practicing attentive behavior. Then, at periodic intervals, have practice attention breaks. Have a signal go off during the work period and have children mark whether or not they were paying attention. This helps train young brains to understand what attention looks like and how often they may be tempted to disengage.
  • Remove visual distractions. Clutter in their classroom or work area can make it impossible for students to keep their brains centered. Removing clutter gives children fewer excuses for not staying focused on the assigned task.
  • Break tasks into manageable pieces. See if you can break tasks into smaller chunks so they are not so overwhelming. Children with attention struggles may perform a required task better and faster with this strategy than if they tried to finish it all at once.

Improve Core Muscle Strength

Often, a short attention span can be attributed to shortcomings in core muscle strength. Try easy movement activity that children will enjoy:

  • Use a partially deflated balance ball. Have children sit on it and bounce or lay bellow down and roll side to side or front to back. Or, they can squash the ball against a wall with their chest or back, or stand on the ball against a wall, using the wall for support. (Caution: This last exercise requires close adult supervision and contact.) Make it fun!

An Added Benefit: Enhance Proprioceptive Input

Activities using sensory balls also enhance proprioceptive input, which adds deep pressure to the body’s muscles and joints. This has a calming, organizing effect.  In some children, this will help address inattention issues by promoting a postural reaction to a moving surface and heavy work input.

Are you in need of additional ideas to build your school-based therapy practice? Or, are you looking to take your career to the next level? If so, contact the Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services team today. We’d love to set up an informational meeting to help you set strategy and direction.

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