Helping Your Child to Learn How to Pay Attention and Remember

If one in ten children are helped to learn the lifelong skills that I ask parents to teach to their children, it will be worthwhile. If you are confused as to why I am asking you to help strengthen your child’s ability to pay attention, let me put it this way:
   “Children who are unable to pay attention will struggle to follow verbal instruction. Children who cannot listen will not remember. Children who can’t remember will not learn.” Byron Thorne

Over a careen of remediating children with learning disabilities, they all had these three unlearned skills in common:

  1. Weak play history (see Play History in the Roots of my Learning Tree)
  2. Poor verbal expressive language skills (never learned to listen or communicate with their limited number of playmates.
  3. Poor Gross motor skills (a) balance (b) weak coordination of upper body muscles and weak muscle strength that limits their participation in activities requiring balance, coordination, strength and stamina.

Please read my comments on Resiliency Skills (See Learning Tree). The stress children are experiencing is inhibiting their ability to learn. Children under stress cannot remember. The good news is that robust active play will reduce stress. Children captured by their electronic devices, especially those on social media sites, will not give up their phones and go for a run. The mental wellness of children refusing to engage in active games is likely to increase their anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and loss of self-esteem. Do not expect these children to pay attention.

Does your child have the skills to hop, skip and jump? Can your child both throw and catch a softly thrown ball? Can your child play ping pong, softball, play skipping games, play hopscotch games or possess the skills to play on playground swings, slides, monkey bars or Seesaw?

By the time you finish my programs of learning to focus and concentrate, there will be no need to ask the question.

Teaching Your Child’s Brain How to Pay Attention and Remember

Allow me to explain why you must teach your child’s brain to remember. Your child’s brain contains billions of brain cells called neurons. These neurons communicate with each other which strengthens the learning curve of the learner. My Learning to Pay Attention program is designed with cognitive activities that stimulate the neurons to create new connections with each other and build pathways that will end up with the learner being able to attend and remember. If your child is unable to catch a soft object such as a Murfball, they will when you complete the activities that I have provided for you. Your job is to be sure that each lesson that I ask you to teach is learned to a level of automaticity. Explain that learning a new skill such as kicking a soccer ball toward the goal may take them weeks of hard work until their brains have created new pathways for the skill to be remembered. It is no different than their learning to feed themselves as infants. It took as many trial and error attempts until your child’s brain remembered how to feed themselves. Their neurons created pathways and the brain remembered how to control the fork or spoon. Learning to read is no different, it only requires them to hunger to want to learn. Think of these connections between neurons as building blocks that will help your child to remember. The more your child repeats each performance it strengthens these connections and as the neurons communicate with one another, they build pathways that transmit information faster and make remembering more effective. Every one of these cognitive learning activities has been designed to help your child’s brain to learn to pay attention. Let me repeat, your child’s digital devices do not aid in strengthening attention thresholds. Get rid of them or at least monitor the time spent and have your child go out and play.

Some Suggested Activities

You may want to have materials at hand before any activities commence.

  • a) Lay a piece of string on a hallway floor or living room rug. Walk forward to the end, then walk heel to toe along the same path, walk backwards, walk backwards toe to heel. Repeat all of the above by clapping hands to the beat of a song or nursery rhyme, etc.
  • b) Hop on the right foot along the line above. Repeat but hop on the left foot.
  • c) Three baby steps, then three giant steps. Repeat but to clapping with songs or nursery rhymes.
  • d) Two feet together jumping forward, then backwards (double the points for not losing your balance).
  • e) Skipping movement (may have to teach) to the end and back of hallway.
  • f) Facing the wall on your right side, stride to the right with a slight hop, then return to the starting point and begin striding from the opposite side (again, double pts.) Google the video that teaches “Developing Our Locomotion skills).
  • g) Few parents are aware of the importance of vigorous activity such as running as fast as you can, then half as fast, back to a full run). Children “need” at least an hour of daily robust physical activity for healthy brain growth and for the healthy development of bone and muscle growth.
  • h) Balancing on the right leg for the count of five, then repeat from the left side. Repeat the activity but reach with the right hand to the ankle and bring the right foot up to the buttocks, repeat from the left side.
  • i) Play ‘Snowman’. A snowman in cold weather (have your child stand in varying positions. Mention that the temperature is becoming warmer) the arms should start to drop and the head may lean to the side. Then it gets really hot and the snowman starts to melt into a puddle.

Eye-Hand Coordination

  • a) Tossing, bowling, throwing and catching are a few eye-hand activities. (Targeting a soft round object like a rubber ball, bean bag or round sponge is a good way to start. Provide goals, baskets or walls to target the balls or bean bags. Award points for closest to or how many targets are reached. The smaller the target, the more points are awarded. The farther away the target, the more points are earned toward digital time or whatever reward you deem appropriate.

  • b) Catching an object can be intimidating for some children. Until they have the eyehand coordination necessary to catch a danger-proof object like a roundish sponge or soft rubber ball, don’t try playing catch with a hard object like a baseball.

  • c) Learning to throw overhand takes a great deal of time to learn (not that Important, unless the child asks to be taught this difficult skill. Try toss or bowling a ball at first. Use tennis balls for throwing at targets like the wall of the garage or school building. Find some mark or writing on the wall and award points for each ball that hits the target.

  • d) Whenever possible, encourage tossung, bowling or throwing with either side. The same for any eye-foot activities. It’s not how hard the ball is kicked but whether it goes in the direction of the goal posts or wall.

  • e) While not so much a game, learning how to thread shoe-laces threw the lace holes of a pair of running shoes or boots will help your child to learn to read. Try cross cross or regular patterns. I have always maintained that the best reading laboratory in any school is the school gymnasium.

  • f) Teach your child to thread a needle. Give them extra points for sewing n a button.

  • g) I haven’t mentioned pencil to paper, crayoning, painting, arts and crafts or drawing a penciled line to solve a maze. Drawing is a child’s most natural form to express themselves.

Eye-foot Coordination

Demonstrate how to kick a soft rubber-ball toward a target (from wide goal to a decreasing in size target). Smaller the target, the more points for screen time.

  • a) Gently kick with the toes of the right foot at the target, then the same with the left foot. Not necessary to kick as hard as it is to where the ball ends up.
  • b) Teach kicking with either foot with the inside arch of the foot and ankle.

Demonstrate how to kick a soft rubber-ball toward a target (from wide goal to decreasing in size targets). Smaller the target, higher the points for screen time. Gently kick with the toes of the right foot at the target, then the same with the left foot. Not necessary to kick as hard as it is to where the ball ends up. Kick from both sides of the inner-arch/ankle toward the target.


  • a) Pour a cup of water into the blue bowl.
  • b) Pour a half cup of water into the blue bowl and the second half into the red bowl.
  • c) Measure a ¼ cup of water, ¾ cup of water. How much water do you have if you pour two ¾ cups of water and ¼ cup of water into a measuring cup?
  • d) Pour ¼ cup of water into a 2 cup size measuring cup. Add ½ cup of water, then ¾ cup of water. How much water is in the measuring cup?
  • e) Get out ingredients to make chocolate fudge. Make fudge with the kids. An hour of screen time for anyone remembering the measurements of the ingredients for making chocolate fudge.


  • a) Take three objects of your choice that look alike but weigh from lightest to heaviest. Ask your child to pick up the lightest one or any of the three. Repeat but use different sizes (the lightest object might be inside the largest container).
  • b) A bit expensive but take sets of three groups of coffee grind filters and have your child select the single filter(harder than it looks-the first time use one with the other two being the same, make it harder to choose for the next several times you want to do this sensory activity).
  • c) Ask your child, show me the heaviest box (use old newspapers) and (maybe add two papers to the one you want your child to reveal). As an added test, have your child sequence the objects from lightest to heaviest).
  • d) With their back turned away, put various objects in your child’s hands (they are to judge by what they feel and tell you what’s in their hands).
  • e) Mix three bowls of a mush-like substance a your child is to choose the thickest or whatever you ask for). Simply add more liquid and try the exercise again).


  • a) Go to the library and request “visual” perception games like “Test of Visual Perception Skills” (1-4) or “Spatial Awareness Skills Program”. Ask the librarian what they recommend.
  • b) Google the Muller-Lyer illusion and ask which line is longer? Google “Brain Teasers” for some free challenges.
  • c) Google “mentalup concentration games”. I highly recommend this site. Click on Free Concentration Games and Exercises to Improve Focus.