Tips and tricks for living with ADHD
If you have been reading my articles for some time now, you know that my son has been diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). I am an early childhood educator, but I am also a mom. I like to read about different subjects to improve my interventions. My goal is to help my son become independent and build his self-esteem. At the beginning of the year, I purchased a magazine that explained ADHD and many other learning disabilities. It represented a fantastic purchase since it was packed with interesting information. There was even an article that contained 100 tricks for parents with children who have ADHD, tricks that may help with school-related challenges. I enjoyed reading them so much, that I wanted to share a few with you. I am convinced that they can help early childhood educators.
I have said it many times: children are rarely diagnosed with ADHD before they begin attending school. Nonetheless, as early childhood educators, you may feel very strongly that a diagnosis is in a child’s future. Of course, you cannot diagnose a child. However, you can take preventive measures. These measures can make daily life much better for both you and the child.
Alternate calm periods and periods of active play
With highly active children, alternating the rhythm is extremely important. Throughout the day, alternate between quiet activities and activities that allow children to expend energy. Doing so is beneficial for children’s brain, learning, and general sense of well-being.
Limit the presence of stimuli when children are required to focus
You can play soft music, but background noises, such as television or loud music are not recommended when you need children to concentrate. A colorful environment or overflowing cupboards, closets, and bins can represent visual pollution for children. Limit noise and purge your environment as much as possible.
Break tasks down into several smaller actions
Highly active children sometimes need help with organization. Organization can represent a huge challenge for children with ADHD. However, there is a solution. You can help them by breaking tasks down into several smaller actions. Providing pictures that explain the handwashing routine, the cleanup routine, and the getting dressed routine, for example, will greatly help children complete these tasks, one step at a time. Pictures can also greatly reduce the number of verbal interventions required.
Manipulating for learning
Highly active children tend to learn in ways that may differ from the other children in your group. Very often, they need to manipulate to learn. Provide them with the opportunity to touch, move, manipulate, and transform things whenever possible. This will help open doors and create learning opportunities.
Learning to stop is important too
It’s no secret that active children need to move, but they also must learn to stop, take breaks, and settle down. Helping them learn to do so will provide them with the chance to experience the positive aspects of pauses. Find tools and interventions that work for your group and insert a few pauses in your daily schedule.
Parents must be your allies
Parents of the children you work with must act as allies. This is even more true when you are dealing with children who have certain difficulties. Parents must work with you in terms of interventions and communication, but also to ensure a certain continuity in the services required for their child. Building a relationship with parents from the start will be helpful. Be sure to highlight their child’s successes and strengths as often as possible. In turn, you will feel comfortable discussing things you may be concerned about or necessary interventions when problems arise.
Anxiety and ADHD often go together
Highly active chidren are often anxious children. What’s more, a child with ADHD can have difficulty organizing his belongings and actions. Be predictable. As much as possible, respect the same schedule, the same routine, the same educational framework to help children feel safe.
Focus on quality, not quantity
With very active children, it may be more difficult to use sedentary activities such as board games or group activities to foster learning. I suggest that you focus on a single learning activity each day so that children can be more attentive and therefore retain important details and information.
Set “traditional” learning techniques aside
There is no rule that says that children must be sitting on a chair at a desk to learn. Encourage them to experience different positions. For example, they can stand at a table or sit on a large exercise ball. Being able to move their legs can stimulate their brain and help them learn. What’s more, you won’t have to ask them to “remain seated” a thousand times.
Highlight something positive every day
Children who are active often mean more negative interventions. Frequent interventions can be exhausting. When we, as adults, are at our wit’s end, finding the energy to deal with an active child can be difficult. However, to improve your relationship with an active child and his parents, it’s important that you find something positive in every day. Share a highlight with the child’s parents and make a point of congratulating the child directly too. The smallest observation can make a huge difference in everyone’s day.