Use a Kitchen Timer

Posted on April 11, 2006. Filed under: Attention/ADD/ADHD |

Students get more work done when they use their time wisely, stay on-task, and get their work done.  While some students do not sustain attention on reading, writing, and worksheet tasks, it is inevitable that most students will face assignments that require attention and work production.

There are 2 ways to use a kitchen timer to increase on-task work time:

The first is to set the timer for 10-20 minutes and require the student to get all work given in that amount of time.  For some students this sets parameters for the length of seated work time and is very motivating to know that at the end of that time, they will be free to get up and do more "interesting" tasks.  For other students, this approach fails utterly and consequences for unfinished work, and reward systems to urge the child to comply are often the next step.  For these students, it's best not to use this approach at all.

The second way to use a kitchen timer has been more successful with most of my students and can be used to train the students to self-monitor their work habits.  I have used both pre-designed marking charts, as well as scratch paper with tallies.  Set the kitchen timer for 1-2 minutes at first, varying the length of time.  When the timer dings, make a mark if the student was on-task at that very moment or some symbol if not.  I often use a tally and dash or a + sign or 0.  Gradually lengthen the time between 1 and 10 minutes, always varying the intervals (some short, some long).

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