by Dr. Zach Petter, D.C.
ADHD and concentration are not usually synonymous, but there are ways to help children focus so that their days are not composed of flitting from one activity to another. Your child with attention deficits may struggle to concentrate on homework, be easily distracted from chores or battle to keep to routines, causing high levels of frustration in the household. How can you help?
Create a Daily Structure
Days that are structured foster better concentration for kids with ADHD. Develop set routines for homework, bedtime and chores so your child doesn’t have to think about what to do and when to do it. Remove distractions such as a blaring TV or a ringing phone when your child is doing homework. Consider including a daily activity that your child looks forward to; this can help your child focus because he or she has a reward in sight for appropriate behavior. The activity does not need be expensive or elaborate; it can be a family game night, an ADHD-friendly food treat after dinner or a fun activity that your child enjoys.
Daily Physical Activity
Tap in to your child’s seemingly endless energy by channeling it into physical games and formal exercise. WebMD recommend that ADHD children spend 60 minutes a day doing medium to intensive exercise. Activities that require focus on body movements, such as gymnastics or dance, are often good. Team sports help kids with ADHD to concentrate while they are getting exercise, experiencing social interaction and having to obey the rules of the game.
On days when sports are not part of the schedule, just 20 minutes outdoors at the park helps to calm ADHD kids and improves their concentration. While you’re there, play a game of catch with a ball while spelling a word or doing simple math. When your child visualizes the thrown ball, he will remember how to spell the word or complete the math problem.
Table games are fun ways to improve academic focus in kids. Ideas include:
- Hide the dominoes — Place an assortment of four dominoes on the table, allowing your child to study them. Place a sheet of paper over the dominoes and ask your child to replicate the exact order of the dominoes with the selection before him. Time how long it takes. The aim is to beat the time, and you can add dominoes to the control group to make it more difficult.
- Jigsaw puzzles — Promote fine motor skills and build concentration with jigsaw puzzles; choose puzzles with appropriate piece counts for your child’s age.
- Word search and crosswords —These types of word games assist in building vocabulary and foster concentration.
- Quiz — Read a story with your child and then have a quick quiz afterwards; this helps develop memory and concentration.
ADHD children often suffer from sensory overload, so it’s important not to structure too many activities into each day. Build in time to relax, as well. Keep the lines of communication open and spend time with your child – you’ll both enjoy it. Focus on the appropriate behaviors, and your ADHD child’s concentration is sure to improve.
Dr. Zach Petter and his wife Amanda own the Brain Balance Achievement Center of San Antonio. The center helps children reach their academic,behavioral and social potential through a unique drug-free, whole-child approach. Brain Balance utilizes customized sensory motor and cognitive activity plans, coupled with nutrition guidelines to address the root cause of most learning and developmental disorders. The San Antonio center is located at 1742 N. Loop 1604 E. Suite 121. For more information, call 210-620-7378 or visit www.brainbalancecenters.com.