Review: Penny Buckle,
Independent Speech & Language therapist
Have you been frustrated by children
who switch off, fail to listen, won't pay attention? Well then this is the book
for you. Maggie Johnson will be known to many people working with children with
communication difficulties; her focus on functional communication means her
books are very readable and practical. This book is no exception.
By highlighting the links between
behaviour and hidden language processing difficulties this book aims to help us
understand why some children find listening so difficult, why they disengage and
seem to lack the motivation to learn. The reader is challenged to consider
whether it is their own behaviour that makes listening and attending easier or
In the introduction, eight attention
control factors are explored in relation to engagement and attention control.
These include four environment factors, task organisation and understanding,
motivation and success. These factors are all variable and dependent on issues
such as time of day, preceding events, environmental conditions etc. and, as
such, Maggie Johnson explains their inter-relationship in terms of a sliding
scale or 'control panel' from low to high depending on those variables.
A chapter is given over to each of
the eight attention control factors. The chapters take a common format - signs
that affect attention; factors that are important; possible barriers (school
and/or child); how to improve. Most chapters have a list of additional useful
resources and the appendices provide additional support materials. An added
bonus is the information about patterns of development for attention, play,
narrative skills and phonological awareness which serves as a useful reminder.
As one has come to expect of Maggie Johnson, she includes well illustrated
examples and scenarios throughout the book.
This book won't necessarily provide
you with the quick fix for those children who find it difficult to listen and
pay attention, but it provides a very practical toolkit. It is a useful resource
for any classroom, providing accessible and realistic advice to all staff and,
indeed, any professional working in school settings.
£12 FREE postage
Review: Dyslexia Review, 2007
Probably one of the greatest sources of frustration for a classroom teacher
is the child who simply doesn’t pay attention, doesn’t listen; not only are they
not learning much themselves, but the chances are they are also disrupting
lessons. Unfortunately, these are the very children that many teachers feel
least able to help.
Maggie Johnson’s concise book is a very useful ‘first stop’ guide to
understanding the reasons behind poor concentration and finding strategies for
dealing with it.
Eight factors (attention controls) are identified as having an impact on
attention and listening in the classroom - some negative, e.g. distractions, and
some positive, e.g. understanding. The author explains that these can be
minimised or maximised to produce a more tuned-in student. Each ‘attention
control’ has its own section in the book.
We are given clues to look out for in a child’s behaviour which will help us
to know which attention controls are likely to be at the ‘wrong setting’, why,
and what we can do about it. Each section ends with an excellent list of useful
resources – not too long, but carefully selected, including small items such as
Chewy Tubes which readers may not know about or may not have been able to
A speech and language therapist, the author offers an insight into the links
between language processing difficulties and behaviour, but deals with many
other issues, including relatively minor ones which can nonetheless affect
concentration – borrowing rubbers, fiddling with pencils – which all teachers
are regularly annoyed by – and doesn’t overlook them. Her suggestions for help
are realistic, practical and informed and she acknowledges that some things are
beyond our control.
There are a variety of useful appendices at the back of the book, including
work plans, timelines and details of developmental progressions.
I recommend this book to teachers; it will certainly be on my shelf at school
for regular reference!
£12 FREE postage