Increase On Task Behavior with Choice Boards

As I previously stated in post #2 of this series, choice goes a long way with children. Some students may have such severe attention problems that they cannot complete more than one task without taking a break. These students can benefit from choice boards, which provide options to how they complete their work. These boards are more time consuming than visual schedules, however kids typically pick up on the concept after several uses and they can become very quick, routine tools you can use in your classroom. 

choice boards

With these “choice boards”, the student must complete the “first” card before they earn what is in the “then” spot. I always set a time limit for both cards. Here’s why: Students who are timed are more likely to perform better. If you tell your student they need to complete their math activity before they can take a lego break, there’s a high chance they are going to sit at their desk and play with their pencil until it’s time for lunch. When you give students a time limit, even if they aren’t finishing their work in it’s entirety, they are slowly building their stamina of appropriate on task behavior and they will complete more and more of their work each time. With these boards, the student must decide what is going to happen after 15-20 minutes of classwork. (The teacher decides the time limits.) Similar to rewards (discussed in post #2), an agreement needs to occur between the student and teacher for this strategy to be successful. Never let the “then” task go longer than 10 minutes or you risk the child having a meltdown when it’s time to resume classwork - and yikes, no one wants that. Setting a timer next to the student while they take a break and alerting them of when they have 2-3 minutes left also helps with the anxiety of having to get back to work. 

As the student increases stamina and gets more used to the schedule, you can increase the amount of tasks they must complete in order to gain the preferred item. (See picture above)

The point of these choice boards is to allow the student to take a break. Even if they only read two pages of their book - even if they didn’t read and just stared at their book - they get the break. Building the attention span and willingness to complete unwanted tasks takes time. Eventually, you can try increasing the amount of tasks on the board, increase the amount of time they are completing the task, or removing the board altogether.


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