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Strategies to support attention and listening skills in the classroom (FS/KS1/KS2)

Listening environment

Create the best listening environment by reducing background noise. Even mild noises such as the hum of a fan or whiteboard can be distracting.


Seat the child at the front of the class where they can easily see any visual teaching aids being used.

Visual attention


When addressing the child, make sure they are looking at you.

Get down to the child’s level.

Use visual materials to back-up verbal messages for example, symbols, pictures, words and signing.

Use a task timetable to visually support the child’s understanding of what they need to do before receiving a reward.

Auditory attention

Give clear signals when it is necessary to listen.

When giving group instructions make sure the child is aware that they also have to listen, for example, call the child’s name, tap them on the shoulder.

Teach and promote active listening strategies for example, “Look at me”.

Use consistent prompts for example:

  • “stop”
  • “good sitting”
  • “good listening”

Refocus attention on important information.


Be aware the child may not be able to do 2 things at once for example, a puzzle and follow instructions.

Reinforce good attention

Give rewards and specific praise for good listening behaviours for example, “good listening” and stickers.


a visual timetable reading 'first' 'next' 'then' 'then' and finally'

Sustain attention by giving the child clear expectations so they know why they need to listen and for how long.

A visual timetable and sand timer can help reinforce this message.

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL52

Resource Type: Article

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