Attention is fleeting and children are easily distracted.
Children can concentrate on their own task but don’t like to be interrupted!
Children can focus on one thing. They find it hard to listen to another instruction at the same time.
Children can shift their focus from one thing to another.
Children can listen to an instruction and complete another task at the same time.
It is usual for young children to be easily distracted. But it is important to support a child’s attention and listening abilities, because these skills are the foundation stones for all learning.
If a child can focus, they are more able to select the most important bits of information that constantly bombards us every day and ignore background noise. Good attention and listening helps children to understand language.
If your child has difficulties with attention and listening, you may see that they:
Reinforce good listening with praise e.g. “good listening!”
Listening to sounds - encourage your child to listen to different sounds in everyday life, e.g. telephone, animals, doorbell etc.
Use a variety of musical instruments or things that make a sound. Ask your child to close their eyes while you play one musical instrument. Your child can then open their eyes and choose which instrument you have just played.
Using toy animals, put some animals in front of your child. Make a noise for one of the animals and ask your child to choose the correct animal.
Play ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’- using a car or a ball, encourage your child to listen and wait by saying ‘Ready, Steady…’ and pausing before you say ‘Go!’ (make sure your child is looking at you before releasing the ball or car and saying ‘Go!’). You can also do this for:
- Jigsaws: wait for “go” before putting a piece in
- Building a tower: wait for “go” before putting a brick on/knocking it down
- Books: wait for “go” before turning the page/lifting the flap.
Take turns to build a tower with bricks, roll a ball or complete a jigsaw. Encourage your child to wait for their turn and stay focused on the activity.
For more information: Speak to your health visitor or drop in at your local children’s centre. If you have any questions about the information or strategies in this information sheet, please contact the SALT team at:
Princess Royal Health Centre Broad Street Plaza
Greenhead Road Halifax
Huddersfield West Yorkshire
HD1 4EW HX1 1UB
Tel: 01484 344299 Tel: 01422 261340
Website: www.cht.nhs.uk/childrens-therapy-servicesPlease see our Children’s Therapy Services website and follow the links to Speech and Language Therapy for information, leaflets, advice and resources.