One of the most frustrating aspects of attention challenges for teachers is “consistent inconsistency.” Day-to-day, even hour-to-hour, our attention to task can vary significantly. Teachers are reminded one of the hallmark characteristics of attention problems is the variability of work performance across settings. Students with attention problems perform more consistently on tasks they find interesting and stimulating. They tend to do worse on mundane tasks that require sustained mental energy.
• Give class-work or homework one sheet at a time if possible. This will prevent the student from feeling overwhelmed. In testing the student, this is also a helpful technique.
• One of the simplest interventions with the most power is to have an extra set of textbooks at home to minimize the problem of not having the necessary homework materials.
• Have someone actively monitor the student during testing, especially on multiple choice “fill in the bubble” tests. Students with attention problems tend to get off-track and begin filling in the wrong places or become so frustrated that they answer randomly to complete the test.
• Identifying goals for consistency with the student’s involvement is effective. Goals and the criteria for success should be simple and easy to understand. Successful goal attainment early in the process is critical. The larger the role the student has in setting the goals, the greater the student’s investment in reaching them.
• Students should be encouraged to utilize assignment sheets, broken down by day and subject. Students should record assignments at the completion of each task. An organizing time at the end of each day can be helpful to gather the necessary materials for assignments and develop a plan of action for completion.
• Students with attention problems can often become overwhelmed with floods of paper. It is often helpful to carry only two work folders: one that contains work to be completed and one that contains work to be turned in or filed. Reviewing work folders should be a daily activity.
• Emphasize that part of the work routine is to check your work. Students with attention problems tend to complete work and turn it in without checking it over. Give the student some instruction in how to check their work and practice it with them.
(c) 2009- 2012, Monte W. Davenport, Ph.D.