If you are the teacher and/or parent of a child with ADHD, you know that one of the biggest challenges is getting them to pay attention – to directions, their current task or activity or to what you are saying to them. However frustrating this inattentiveness might be, remember that it is a part of the ADHD disorder — and also that there are ways to help kids pay attention both at school and at home.
Consider Seating Carefully
One way to help with attention is to be mindful of where a child is seated in the classroom. If put near a window or a door where they can see what is going on outside or who is passing down the hallway, ADHD kids are much more likely to be distracted by this stimuli. Also, if possible, try to seat quieter, more focused kids around them so that they will not be tempted to whisper, pass notes or generally stay off-task.
Keep Lessons Fun
This can be challenging as a teacher, but try to keep the lesson fun and exciting — this will help not just with ADHD kids but with other students as well. Multi-media presentations, hands-on work and projects, educational games and active learning are all ways to keep kids engaged and focused on what you are trying to teach.
Vary Teaching Methods
Rather than just having the kids take notes or listen to lectures, try to bring in different kinds of work for them to do: drawing a map of the United States, for instance, or building a diorama with dinosaurs or even role-playing different moments in American history can all make it easier for kids to become engaged while in the classroom.
Be Compliant with Medications
If your child is taking medications for ADHD, it is very important that you understand the dosage and timing of the medications, know what side effects to expect and also understanding what symptoms you should call the doctor about. Keeping your child on a set, consistent schedule for his medications is one of the best ways to ensure that the drug will be effective and help to control your child’s symptoms.
Keep Learning Active
Learning doesn’t end when the school bell rings to go home and it is part of raising your child! Keep track of what your child is learning in school and reinforce that with active learning at home. If your child studying plants and trees? Take a hike out in the wood or go to the local botanical garden for an extra field trip. Are they learning about Egyptian history? Go to a museum and let them see exhibits for themselves. Enrichment activities that you do with your child like this can help them stay in engaged and interested in what they are learning — both in school and out of it.
While learning self-monitoring skills is important for any child as they grow, it is especially important — and challenging — for kids to learn this skill. But with time and coaching, they can learn to recognize symptoms such as straying attention — and also learn to refocus that attention on what they should be doing. Keep in mind, though, that this is a process and not an achievement and that is will likely take a long time to master this skill.
Play Attention Games
Games are more than just a way to have fun with your kids. They can also teach important life skills, including the skill of paying attention! Certain games — like Simon Says, musical chairs and other activities — can help them build this skill without even realizing that is what they are doing.
Increase Time Outside
If your child has ADHD, one of the best things you can do for their attention and other important skills is to get them outside. Many studies have shown that getting outside not only gives them the space they need to work off excess energy, but that natural surroundings can also help to calm and focus an overactive mind. So get out to a local walking trail, a natural area of botanical garden and try to make this contact with the natural world a regular habit — you won’t be sorry!
In short, then, while raising a child with ADHD can be challenging, there are also tricks — like the ones mentioned above — that you can use to help your child build their attention skills and control their ADHD symptoms.