Another area of executive functioning is attention. Most people think of attention as focused attention. This is your ability to focus on, let's say, reading. And as you're reading something and there are distractions, out here, that your attention doesn't move off in that direction, but you can. Sustain your focus on what you're doing. But I think most people are surprised to hear that there's this other type of attention. That is your ability to shift your attention when you should. So when you're reading something and your mother is calling you for dinner, you should shift your attention to what she's saying A lot of kids who come into HeadWorks have trouble with one or both of these areas of attention.
What we try to do at HeadWorks is promote what's called metacognition. Metacognition is your knowledge of your own thinking. So to help them to understand, do they have trouble in one of these areas or the other, or both, or neither?
Our coaches are teaching these kids that you were just working on this task, and I noticed after five minutes your focus started to shift. What do you usually do that helps you in the situation? Many times it's taking a break. Our breaks are movement breaks and HeadWorks. We don't do breaks where you go on your iPad and play a game. These have to be physical movement breaks There is stretching, getting something to eat, getting something to drink, maybe something crunchy, some sensory input that helps the kids rejuvenate their attention so they can get back to work.
We also use note-taking methods where when kids are reading that they read for a certain period of time That we've taught them, this seems to be your limit of sustained attention. And this is the time when you need to take a break. How will you know when that time occurs? We set timers to alert them that it is now time to take a break Kids who have trouble shifting attention, we don't wanna necessarily interrupt them when they're in the middle of reading, let's say a section for homework, because they have a tough time shifting away from it before it's done, and then shifting their attention back into the work What we do is we help those kids identify that they might have some trouble shifting Let's just do it rather than based on time, let's do it instead, on content. You read this content and then we'll take a break, versus the time.