4 Tips to Help Children with ADHD Learn Virtually
Well, the kids are finally back to school, which is to say the roll out of bed and sit down at the table in front of their computer. As the pandemic continues to spread, most schools are starting the new year online and easing into a hybrid schedule. For children with ADHD, learning both online and in-person can be a challenge. In class, children who have ADHD have to sit still, pay attention to teachers, and finish their work on schedule. Sometimes there are distractions such as noise and other students. Switching to online learning addresses some of these challenges, however, that has its own set of problems. Children with ADHD may require special assistance to keep track of their online classes and work.
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, one of the most common childhood disorders. Symptoms include inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, but they differ from person to person. ADHD was formerly called ADD, or attention deficit disorder. Both children and adults can have ADHD, but symptoms usually begin in childhood. Children with ADHD may have trouble sitting still, following directions, and completing tasks at home or school.
Here are some tips to set your child up for success in a virtual classroom.
Having a consistent routine can be beneficial to anyone, but for a child with ADHD, it is crucial. Just like when they go to school in-person, they should get up at the same time every morning. They should also be getting dressed and eating breakfast within a certain time frame. For this reason, it is also important to enforce a strict bedtime schedule as well to ensure a child is getting enough sleep. If not, this could exacerbate some issues associated with ADHD. It is very easy for a child with ADHD to lose track of time and priorities. Setting up a timer can help with this problem. This allows children to be able to break up their time more easily, and thus use it more wisely.
Children with ADHD commonly struggle with executive function. Executive functions are the brain’s self-control capacities that help us figure out what actions to take and the steps needed to perform such actions. Russell Barkley, Ph.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina and a leading expert on ADHD, describes the executive function as “goal-directed problem-solving, and goal-directed persistence.” An example of these executive functions is the ability to tap into nonverbal working memory, which basically means not only knowing what to do but how to create the steps to complete it. Help your child write down each task that needs to be completed in order to meet their goal.
We should always attempt to set up a quiet study area in the home that's free from visual distractions. This can include anything from distracting wall art, TV, or even a window. If this isn’t possible, making a cardboard folder to act as blinders around the child while working at the computer is also effective in minimizing distractions. If a little background noise is more suitable, opt for soft music instead of the radio or TV. Prohibit cell phones and other electronics away until the class is over. And while it’s not possible to take the internet away from a child using a computer, it is possible to block unwanted websites from being accessed during a certain time.
If your child gets more fidgety as the day goes on, allow him to take movement breaks. Encourage kids to dance or jump around to burn off extra energy.
Only 30 minutes of moderate-to-intense aerobic exercise is needed in a day to boost focus and mood. And children can spread out the 30 minutes over the course of their day as well. Try to get in some activity each morning before school starts. Take a walk around the block or do some stretches to get the blood flowing. Don't forget hydration breaks, too. ADHD medications can be dehydrating. That can make a child feel tired and achy and affect their schoolwork. Eight glasses of water a day should do the trick.