Children are often affected by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Its symptoms include having difficulty focusing, struggling to sit still, and lacking impulse control. Children who suffer from this disorder may find it difficult to sit down and concentrate on their studies. The following steps can help children with ADHD who are struggling in school to relax, focus, and be productive, regardless of whether you are helping after school or working with them on homeschooling.
1. Use hands-on activities
Those with ADHD generally need multiple forms of stimulation in order to fully pay attention. Simply listening to a lecture or watching a video cannot hold their interest for very long. To help your child with ADHD focus on their work, offer them a way to do it that engages multiple senses. Learning through hands-on activities is the best way to keep them fully engaged in their work and make sure they are absorbing the information learned.
There may be times when hands-on activities aren't an option, such as when they bring homework home from school. If they're completing an assignment that is less stimulating, like a worksheet, find a way to make it more action-oriented. Even just "talking" the assignment out loud or offering them a fidget toy, like play slime or a fidget spinner, can help break up the monotony and help them focus.
2. Movement breaks
No one likes to have to sit still all day, but for those with ADHD, it's torture. Having to resist the impulse to get up and move can take so much focus that there's often none left for thinking about the learning they have to do. To break up the physical toll of sitting still, include plenty of chances to get up and move in your child's learning day.
These movement breaks can be taken in many different ways. It may be as simple as letting them play in the backyard or taking them to a park for half an hour to run and play. You could include some movement-based learning activities into their day, such as doing a hands-on project. Maybe you could take a little dance party break while you play some fun music! Including these small reprieves interspersed throughout their learning will make sure that when they come back to learning, they'll be more focused and ready to learn.
3. Comfortable physical space
Sitting still in a stiff chair takes a lot of effort for those with ADHD. It can take so much effort, in fact, that there's hardly any capacity left for focusing on the actual work! Creating a physical space that's comfortable and inviting can make a huge difference in ensuring that your child with ADHD is able to focus on the work in front of them, rather than having to focus all their attention on sitting still. Having difficulty sitting can bring up feelings of failure and shame, especially when they're reprimanded for doing so by a parent or teacher. By embracing their difference and allowing them the accommodation they need, the child can feel more confident and less distracted from their work.
Instead of having your child work at a desk or table, think of some more comfortable positions they might be able to work in. A floor desk or beanbag chair offers lots more opportunity for movement and comfort than the stiffness of a standard chair. With a kids portable desk or flexible seating, just about any seating arrangement can be made into a learning space.
4. Practice time management skills
Children with ADHD often struggle to learn productivity and time management techniques. We often forget that as adults, we take these skills for granted. Learning to stay on top of work is a skill that has to be explicitly taught. The challenge of succeeding and pleasing their parents and educators often eludes children. Talk about time management techniques together and what they can do to improve their academic performance.
Practice time management techniques one at a time, just as you would with any other skill. Including some helpers, like visual timers or incentives, can be a great way to get a start on working on these management techniques without overwhelming or confusing children.
A technique that might be helpful is to visualize everything: create a chore chart board where your child will have a clear idea of which chores he needs to do. If you are more progressive, you can add yourself to the chart as an example of first-hand experience and transparency.
5. Spend time outside
Studies have shown that children with ADHD can significantly improve their academic focus and performance by simply spending some time outside each day. So get ready to get some fresh air! Even if the weather's rainy or cold, it's still very worth it to get outside when your child has ADHD. Giving them a chance to spend some time in the fresh air will help their mind relax and reset.
You could even take the learning outside! By bringing a comfortable chair and a portable desk, it's easy enough to have your child complete their academic work wherever you are. Try taking them to the park next time they have to complete an assignment and letting them work on it in the grass or sitting on a park bench.
6. Work collaboratively
Part of the frustration of having ADHD is falling short of goals and feeling out of control. When children with ADHD are given a chance to have more of an active participant role in their own learning, they see huge improvements in their ability to meet their goals. Sit down with your child and talk about what it is that they need in order to perform at their best. Sometimes their level of insight can surprise you!
Despite the fact that some children's wishes cannot be met, you should always make a sincere attempt to accommodate them. By doing this, they can also learn what motivates and helps them focus through trial and error. Let them experiment with what works best for their brain and encourage them when things are difficult.
7. Keep things interesting
For those with ADHD, it's nearly impossible to force interest and focus on a task that feels boring and under stimulating. To help them keep on top of their work, make it fun and interesting enough that they have a natural level of engagement. As a matter of fact, this one is not specific to ADHD children, particularly. Rather than giving them repetitive or simple tasks, try to think of ways they can learn that are novel, exciting, or engages multiple senses at once. This is a great time to get creative. How can you teach them about math in a way that moves their body? How can you learn a new scientific concept with a hands-on experiment? Try out some new activities and see what will grab your child's attention best.
Finding ways to make learning into a game or activity will be sure to capitalize on their attention span and get them paying attention to the learning material. Even simply using tools like educational videos games or movies can make a huge difference in their ability to retain the information they have learned.
8. Offer compelling incentives
ADHD children are often overwhelmed by frustration and give up learning completely when they are trying. Offering some compelling incentives can be a great way to motivate them to overcome those frustrations and keep working hard. The rewards do not have to be extravagant to work well. They can be as simple as a little prize bucket full of small toys they can choose from once they've completed a task. Instead of objects, you might consider offering experiences, such as going out for dinner at their favorite restaurant.
Reward them as a celebration of their success, rather than as a bribe or a way to pay for their learning. In the future, they will be motivated to work just as hard because they are proud of their achievements.
Over to you
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