NIHR
University of Exeter
Tools for Schools
Paying Attention and Engaging



Paying Attention and Engaging

Welcome to the main page for the Paying Attention and Engaging module. This module is about supporting students to re-engage their attention, and contains lots of ideas about things you and the student can use to help them get back to the task at hand when their mind wanders off.

Browse and select the strategies in this module below:

Moving on and through the day

This strategy will support the student to know what is happening each day, or in the immediate future. It can be tailored to the student’s needs and contains some science around why it is important know what to expect of the day. This can reduce anxiety

  • Personalised to toolkit student
  • Everyday use

Regulation station

This strategy is about creating and using a visual guide for the student to indicate their emotional state, and to guide you and them on how to increase or decrease their energy appropriately. We think it is useful for several modules in this toolkit. This strategy can be used with the whole class or the toolkit student individually

  • Everyday use with toolkit student
  • Classroom activity

When things go wrong

This strategy is about supporting the child to understand their feelings about a problem or task and helping them to find a reaction that is appropriate 

  • Science
  • Personalised to toolkit student

Icky, sticky, let’s get tricky

This is a classroom activity to support the student to understand that everyone needs different things to help them be their best self, and that it’s normal (and not a punishment) for them to use tools to support them at school. It involves making stories about tricky situations

  • Classroom activity
  • Personalised for toolkit student
  • Can return to resources when needed/One off that can be re-used

Keeping track of time

This strategy provides a range of ideas to help students keep track of time during the lesson or school day, as well as helping you remember to use these with them

  • Teacher planning
  • Everyday use with toolkit student

Catch them out (being good)

This strategy is to support you to give the toolkit student more positive feedback. It requires you to think positively about changes that you can make too!

  • Classroom guidelines
  • One-off that can be re-used

Funky Chunking

This strategy is about supporting your student by breaking tasks and activities up into smaller chunks. Children who struggle to pay attention do better when they have less to remember at any one time.

  • Teacher planning
  • Everyday use with toolkit student

Stretching it out

This strategy is to support the child to extend their abilities over time, for example being able to focus for longer. It works by breaking down goals into small steps, then building up from these smaller steps to larger successes

  • Teacher planning activity
  • Personalised to toolkit student

Box of tricks

This strategy is about scaffolding the student to use a range of strategies that can help them focus. The student will create a box of tricks full of ideas, which they can then choose from to help with the task that they need to achieve in class

  • Everyday use with student
  • Gathering lots of ideas in one place


How did we make these strategies?