How Do I Help A Child With ADHD Focus?
As an adult you know that the ability to pay attention and to control the content of your thinking is critical to a good life. When you pay attention, you feel good about reflecting who you are through your work, your relationships, and your contributions to this world.
What helps us focus?
Situations in which there are challenges, clear rules, and responsive feedback, tend to support the best environment for mental focus and flow of attention. Being challenged provides an experience for us to understand who we really are. When our mind is stretched to its limits in a natural effort to accomplish something hard but worthwhile, our level of focus maximizes.
But, how do I get my student with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) to focus?
This is a reasonable question when we’re talking about typical students. For the student with ADHD, however, focus is a multi-step process and it can be super complex!
The components to achieving focused attention are in the body, not just the brain. Check if your student can do the following:
Correct head and neck posture – Whether we are talking about visual attention, such as looking at the front of the classroom, or auditory attention, such as listening to a story, the student must be strong enough to hold their head up against gravity for long periods of time and to position their eyes and ears for maximum function by facing forward.
Mature sensory system – The child’s ability to sense the world around them must be functioning well so that they are able to filter out inappropriate stimulation while zooming in and attending to very discriminate targets (looking at the teacher or listening to the story).
Memory intact – The child will need to relate this activity that requires their focus, to another activity relevant to the child. When a child appreciates the meaning of an activity, especially when it relates to the quality of their life, they are more easily able to flow into the new task and to focus on it because they remember a previous and similar meaningful event. Intelligence, problem-solving and memory need to be intact for good focused attention to develop.
STRATEGIES TO TRY:
- Gross motor exercises in PE and during recess that help strengthen the whole body for good head-on-neck posture.
- Games emphasizing discriminative use of their sensory system to help develop the sensory system, such as I spy with my little eye for sense of vision, listening for different instrument in an orchestra for auditory sensation, etc.
- Non-competitive games emphasizing memory for stimulation of memory and problem solving skills, reasoning and sequencing.
- Strategies for mental flow to calm, focus, and attend. Lack of focus and distractibility are observed as a change in breathing rate. Breathing deeply and calmly can help managing thinking. Calm means restful alertness.
- Humming can be an excellent strategy for focus when done at the right time and place.
For more ideas on educating unique learners, consider purchasing my book Unique Learner Solutions. Each chapter concludes with a “Strategies to Try” section that can be immediately implemented based on your observation of your student’s learning behavior. Unique Learner Solutions is available to purchase by clicking HERE.