12 May 2021

Support attention, communication, and organisation

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Concussion: Support a return to learning and activity’

Notice where support is needed

Notice where support is needed

Many symptoms can often be misinterpreted.

Instead, these symptoms are signals that a brain is still healing and needs a supportive environment to aid recovery.


  • Difficulty staying on task
  • Reduced ability to focus
  • Easily distracted
  • Difficulty completing work
  • Forgetting things they need or what they have been asked to do
  • Difficulty doing more than one thing at a time
  • Problems organising approaches to tasks
  • Difficulty getting started on tasks
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts clearly, either verbally or in writing
  • Heightened sensitivity to noise, smells, and textures

Source: Adapted from Changes: Behaviour, mood & personality (opens in a new tab/window)

Seat with positive peers

Seat with positive peers

Positive peers can help with clarifying instructions, moving between tasks, preparing for transitions, and managing task completion.

Support the beginning of tasks

Support the beginning of tasks

Provide assistance with getting started on tasks – then ask the child or young person about the first thing they are going to do next.

Useful teaching strategies

Useful teaching strategies

Select teaching strategies that support the recovery of a child or young person with a non-traumatic brain injury

Seek feedback on what’s helpful.

Adjust as needed.

  • Revisit a concept as many times as needed.
  • Check for understanding and the need for assistance.
  • Preview new material when possible.
  • Develop with the learner strategies that help them coordinate learning and materials between home and school.
  • Consider using a communication notebook or email routine for school-home communication.
  • Timetable the most important learning tasks at the times when the learner has the most energy.
  • Seat the learner near to the location of instruction and away from distractions, such as doors, windows, and high traffic areas.
  • Eliminate interruptions as much as possible.
  • Make sure to have the learner’s attention when giving directions or instructions.

Source: Adapted from Brain injury in children and youth: A manual for educators – Colorado Department of Education (opens in a new tab/window)

Reflection questions

Reflection questions

Adjust and adapt for your own context.

  • How will you monitor a child or young person’s progress on a task so they don’t get too lost or stuck?
  • In what ways could you use digital tools to support refocusing?
  • What strategies will you use to ensure instructions can be followed and referred to later?
  • How can distractions in the environment be minimised?

Useful resources

Useful resources

Cognition Attention concentration memory

Cognition: Attention, concentration & memory

Read time: 4 min

Publisher: Brain Injury NZ

Download PDF

Brain injury in children and youth A manual for educators

Brain injury in children and youth: A manual for educators

Read time: 212 min

Publisher: Colorado Department of Education

Download PDF


BrainSTARS: Attention

Publisher: BrainLine

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Concussion: Support a return to learning and activity”:

Return to the guide “Supporting learners with acquired brain injury”

Guide to Index of the guide: Acquired brain injury and learning