Focusing is a component of sensory regulation. Attention Meters can be used to help build focusing skills.
Meters can be used for many different situations. This meter was created to encourage staying on task and paying attention. Children with Attention Deficit Disorder can have a hard time staying on task. Because jumping from topic to topic or activity to activity may seem natural to them they need to be taught to be aware of the importance of paying attention. They also need to understand what we mean by paying attention. One boy wanted to talk about video games the whole session. When it was pointed out that he needed to “focus” he replied, “I am focusing. I am focusing on my games.” Another boy started talking about another topic while doing his homework. When he was told to stay on topic he said, “In my social skills class they told me that if the topic was related then it was okay.” Then he proceeded to explain how in his brain the topics were related. I give both those kids points for creative thinking. But since we really want them to stay focused on a particular task/topic it is necessary to clearly explain the rules in a way that they can understand.
- Attention/Staying on task
- Work Completion
- Stopwatch or clock
- Attention Meter Worksheet
First decide whether the goal is to complete a certain task or whether the goal is to stay on task for a certain amount of time. If the goal is to complete a task then tell the child we will work on this until it gets done and then we can _______________. (Choose a preferred activity to do after the task is completed. With the boy who loved video games the reward was talking about video games for 5 minutes.) If the goal is to work for a certain amount of time tell the child, “You need to work for ____ minutes.” There will be 2 different meters. For the meter that is for task completion start the stopwatch when the child starts to work (Use a clock if no stopwatch is available. As soon as the child’s attention wanders stop the clock and have the child record their time. This is also a good time to take an exercise break. Explain to the child that exercising will help them think better. Save the meters to show the child when they improve their time. For the meter that is for a certain period of work time, follow the same method but this time point out to the child how much time they took. For instance, if the target work time is 20 minutes but it really took 35 minutes point that out so that the child starts to build some awareness of time management. Also, be careful to be light-hearted in your approach. This should not feel like punishment but more of a goal setting exercise. Make sure to give the child a lot of praise when they improve their time or show that they are trying. Also, for those children with very short attention spans keep the activity short so that they can be successful and then you can increase the amount of time as they begin to achieve their goals.