Supporting your child to concentrate
on tasks at home

Our Occupational Therapists have put together this information to help you  consider factors which may impact on a child or young person’s concentration and engagement with tasks at home.

To be able to concentrate on a task, we need to:

  • understand the task required
  • be in a suitable environment and
  • have our posture supported.

If your child is easily distracted by noise

  • Reduce background noise where possible (TV, radio)
  • Ask your child to repeat back instructions to you

If your child is bothered by visual distractions

  • Have a clear workspace where possible 
  • Reduce distractions (i.e. not having the TV on)
  • Break down a task into steps and have your child tick each off. 
  • Have visual timetables to support understanding of what is next in the task.

It is important that your child’s posture is well supported when completing table top activities. This enables them to focus on the task, rather than being distracted and trying to get comfortable.

Good posture - 90° angle at knee, foot and seat in backThe ideal sitting position is shown in the picture. This shows the “90 degrees, 90 degrees, 90 degrees” rule, with the child’s hips, knees and ankles all at right angles. 

Your child’s back and feet should be well supported when sitting at the table. This can be achieved through the use of cushions and a foot stool if necessary. It is also important to ensure that your child can reach the table from their sitting height.

Movement

Children playing with a ballMovement (vestibular) input is one of your senses. Messages from the vestibular receptors are located in the inner ear to help you understand movement and its relationship to the environment. We need a balance of regular movement breaks to maintain their concentration and arousal level throughout the day.

Proprioception is another one of our senses. We have proprioceptors in all of our muscles. These tell us about the position of our limbs as well as movements our body is making and the force it is using. Having appropriate proprioceptive awareness gives us consistent and clear sensory feedback about our body. This feedback helps us to organise our body for daily activities.

Proprioceptive activity is also the regulator of our senses and can help calm an overactive and excited child. It can also be used to increase a child’s arousal level and to wake up their body so that certain activities can be carried out. The following ideas would be beneficial to develop the above areas. Your child needs a diet of these activities throughout the day.

Find out which of these activities excite them and which activities calm them and use a combination of these activities throughout the day to balance their need for movement.

Movement (vestibular) input is one of your senses. Messages from the vestibular receptors are located in the inner ear to help you understand movement and its relationship to the environment. We need a balance of regular movement breaks to maintain their concentration and arousal level throughout the day.

Proprioception is another one of our senses. We have proprioceptors in all of our muscles. These tell us about the position of our limbs as well as movements our body is making and the force it is using. Having appropriate proprioceptive awareness gives us consistent and clear sensory feedback about our body. This feedback helps us to organise our body for daily activities.

Proprioceptive activity is also the regulator of our senses and can help calm an overactive and excited child. It can also be used to increase a child’s arousal level and to wake up their body so that certain activities can be carried out. The following ideas would be beneficial to develop the above areas. Your child needs a diet of these activities throughout the day.

Find out which of these activities excite them and which activities calm them and use a combination of these activities throughout the day to balance their need for movement.

  • Having your child do small movement chores throughout the school day, e.g. move furniture; carry things from classroom to classroom/office and delivering messages.
  • Jumping on a trampoline, slowly and rhythmically or bouncing on a space hopper.
  • Playground equipment such as swings, roundabouts, seesaw, rocking horse, etc.
  • Allowing them to chew something chewy when they have to concentrate.
  • Allowing them to fiddle with something, e.g. stress ball, when listening.
  • Using a mov’n’sit cushion to increase arousal levels and therefore improve concentration and posture.
  • Lifting heavy objects (e.g., pour water from one container to another, lift a toy box, etc). Make sure that when lifting, they bend their knees and avoids hurting their back
  • Using playground equipment such as monkey bars, climbing frames, etc.
  • Crawling races: pretend to be different animals and move along the floor or crawl along the floor as fast as you can pick up marshmallows with your mouth as you go.
  • Catch a ball in half kneeling (one knee on floor and one foot on floor). Gradually position the foot on the floor closer to your body – this makes it harder!
  • Tug of War while standing, lying on tummy or high kneeling. Use a rope or hands and try to pull your partner over a line.
  • Obstacle courses: Going over, under, around, beside, through, backwards, forwards etc.
  • Games such as twister, Simon says and hokey cokey 
  • Flag drills – where children mirror your posture
  • Gymnastics – tumbling, somersaults, vaulting etc.
  • Cut out coloured hand and foot prints from cardboard and set them out in a path. Have your child follow them. After this activity the child can pick up all the left or all the right footprints.
  • Throwing over or through a hoop or rope
  • Throwing into certain areas e.g. a hoop or rope
  • Bouncing a ball along a line or rope circle, square etc
  • Throwing to targets – higher or lower, side to side
  • Using different size balls or sticky mitts, rackets
  • Catching, throwing, bouncing

Spread a rope along the floor and jump over it in different patterns:

A diagram of steps you can use jumping over a rope

Keeping Me Well logo

Help us improve Keeping Me Well!

We’re currently working to improve the Keeping Me Well website. If you’d like to help us make this site a better, more helpful experience for you, please take a few minutes to let us know what improvements you’d like to see.

Skip to content