His eyes wander when teachers talk to him. She starts fidgeting after a minute of focus. Students with ADHD fight a daily battle to stay on task, and a lot of them lose. Researchers are still studying the ADHD brain, but we know that people with the disorder struggle to control what they pay attention to. That struggle is even more pronounced as the school year winds down. Try these simple strategies to help your child stay on task during the last weeks of school and beyond.
Do a Distraction Audit
No two kids with ADHD are the same. The work environment that might help one focus could be distracting for another. Assessing how his environment is affecting him is especially important as summer approaches; the sights, sounds and even smells around him change as the seasons do.
When your student is at home and struggling to stay on task, ask him to freeze and make note of anything in the environment that's interfering with his ability to focus. It could be that a distant sound, like birds chirping outside, is too hard for him to tune out and that adding white noise will help him. Experiment with different locations. If working at the kitchen table is too distracting right now, have him try doing work in other settings until you find one that suits his needs.
Learn Out Loud
A lot of students with ADHD have an easier time retaining information when they say it out loud. If your child is an auditory learner, try having her read her notes out loud when she's studying. Ask her to explain science concepts and history facts to you, too. This approach could help her better focus on the material, and retain it as well.
Design a Personalized Rewards System
Especially when students are distracted by the promise of summer fun, giving them internal motivation to keep working is critical. Each day, help your child make a short, bullet-pointed list of the tasks she has to get done. Next to each task, write down the reward she'll get for finishing each one. When she finishes 10 math problems, for example, she might get to choose a board game to play with the family or a special activity. The age of the child will determine the appropriate achievements and corresponding rewards. The motivator will change as your child matures. Include bigger rewards for finishing final exams and finishing the school year, too.
Encourage Active Breaks
All kids need opportunities to blow off steam at the end of the school year. Exercise is especially important for kids with ADHD because it boosts dopamine production, which helps the brain focus. Kids who struggle to sit still also need this time to run off some of that bottled-up energy.
Take advantage of warm summery weather by organizing short, high-energy activities between your child's work sessions. Make them as fun as possible to get your kid to cooperate happily. A few times a day, challenge your kid to do pushups to the "Rocky" theme song, head out in the yard to have a water-balloon fight or let him race his bike along the sidewalk for a few minutes. Even short bursts of exercise can help a distracted kid find new focus when he sits back down to work.
Sometimes, it does not matter how hard you try to help your child manage school challenges, it may simply be out of his control. We can help. Brain Balance has worked with over 30,000 children and their families through a comprehensive personal plan that addresses your child’s challenges. Contact us to learn more!