How to Keep Learning Activities Interesting for ADHD Kids
There are many methods you can utilize to help keep learning interesting for your ADHD child. These methods range from basic ideas that will help their mind to stay focused to special methods that incorporate fun into learning. Utilize all of these techniques together for maximum performance and engagement from your child.
Engaging ADHD Kids
If you are the parent of a child suffering with ADHD, then you know very well the struggles they encounter when trying to stay engaged in an activity, especially learning. The lack of control over executive function or attentional control can make it very difficult for these children to stay focused and interested on any task or process. There are, however, various ways that you can help your child to stay attentive when they are pursing educational goals. Keeping your ADHD child engaged and interested in the learning process will help them perform better. Let's take a closer look at the various ways you can keep your child interested in learning.
Alternate Between Physical and Mental Activities
One of the best ways to keep your child interested on the task at hand is to give them breaks. Your ADHD child can get more restless than other children in a shorter period of time. Allowing for breaks will help them to be better able to focus on the task at hand, rather than forcing them to fully complete an assignment before they are allowed to move on to other things. These breaks for physical activity can also be utilized as a reward for completing various learning tasks. Make sure you communicate with your child that they will receive a break at a particular time or with the completion of a small goal. More specific information on goal-setting and rewards will be addressed later.
Aerobic exercise has shown to be very beneficial to executive function and other symptoms in ADHD children in research studies. This is because ''exercise affects the same dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems that stimulant medications target'' (Wigal, 2013). For this reason, it would be a good idea to give your child breaks for physical activity. Get outside with them and engage them in activities that will get their heart rate up. This can involve throwing a ball or Frisbee with them or playing tag. Get creative and stay involved with your child's rewards and exercise. Try to incorporate academics into their playtime, as well. Have them count the number of ball throws or create other ways to integrate learning into their breaks.
Utilize Technology in Learning
Another great way to keep your ADHD child interested in learning is to integrate assistive technology into the learning process. All kids today, not just those suffering with ADHD, are using technology more and more in the learning process. Psychologists are finding that it is very beneficial to children to present academics in the same way in which they are absorbing most of their information. In today's world, that is through technology. One great way to do this is with the use of animated video lessons. There are many educational websites that offer these learning videos, so you can choose the ones that are ideal for your child.
Another great way to use technology to your advantage is to stop fighting video games and embrace them! There are many educational video games out there that are so engaging your child may forget they are learning. Here are a few to get you started:
- Magic School Bus
- Big Brain Academy
Make it Fun
Create fun games with your child that will help to make learning fun. This will require some creativity on your behalf, but it can be done. Think about some of your child's favorite activities and ponder the ways that you can incorporate learning into these activities. Rather than focusing only on making learning more fun, try to also find ways to incorporate learning into playtime. There are many great ideas like play therapy and games.
A few fun learning activities that are fun for the whole family include:
- Go on a light walk
- Do a jigsaw puzzle (helps to improve focus)
- Go to a local museum
Activities like this are great for family interactions, and teach children to value learning as a form of entertainment, not an obligation.
Create Smaller Goals
Large goals for your ADHD child should be broken down into smaller and more easily manageable goals. More reward will be found with each step that your child completes. This will help to keep their interest levels up throughout the completion of a larger goal. You can help to make this process even more beneficial by creating extra rewards for each small goal that is accomplished. This will help to keep long days of learning more interesting for your child as they are seeing the benefits of completing each learning task. One recommendation is to set an average of three to six target goals for completion of each larger goal. Make sure that there isn't an overwhelming number of sub-goals for each main goal.
Instead of generalizing aspects of your child's learning that need to be changed or improved, make sure that they know specific areas that need to be altered. It is also very important to make sure that each goal that is set is easily understandable and easily achievable for your child. These goals should also be easily measured by you, the parent. If you can't establish the exact point that a goal is achieved, then you will not be able to set up a proper schedule of reinforcement for completion of each task.
This is one of the most basic aspects of human conditioning that will help to keep your child interested in the task at hand. For example, as mentioned above, physical activity can help your child to keep focused. This physical activity can also serve as one of their rewards for completing goals. Get creative with your methods and incorporate healthy rewards for good behavior. Here are just a few examples of small goals that help your child with the larger goal of staying engaged in learning activities.
- Raise your class grade by one letter grade for the reporting period
- Increase the amount of time you can focus on a learning exercise by a full minute
- Complete at least 20 minutes of focused exercise daily
Create Quiet Spaces for Learning
If you want to keep your child interested in the learning process, one of the best ways you can do this is by eliminating distractions. Your ADHD child will require a quiet area with little or no distractions to help keep them focused. Keep them away from windows and doors, television, radio, pets, and even other family members. Children with ADHD can have major struggles with staying focused when there are distractions around. If you eliminate any possible distractions, then there will only be one thing for your child to focus on – learning.
Write down important information and make sure your child can easily find it. It can be extra frustrating for a child with ADHD when they need certain information in the learning process and can't access important materials easily. Keep essential items, like times tables and flash cards, in a specific area that is a part of their quiet space. This can be anything like a drawer for learning tools, a basket, a backpack, or even a whole desk with these tools alongside their supplies like paper and pencils. This organization will help your child to feel personally accomplished in their learning when they need tools for assistance. It enables them to actively participate in getting the help they may need with a difficult educational goal. This personal accomplishment and participation will help to keep them engaged, interested, and, most importantly, proud of themselves as they independently achieve academic pursuits.