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Help for ADHD Kids During the Dreaded School Circle Time
Sitting can be difficult for very young children. For children with ADHD, sitting still may be impossible. Most schools now use an activity called circle time to instruct children on all kinds of academic subjects. Although sitting in a circle is better than being tied to a desk, for children with ADHD it is still a difficult school activity.
Fortunately, there are strategies and devices that help all children stay engaged during circle time and for children with ADHD, these strategies can be the difference between learning and sitting in a place of rest during major. part of the day. This list of suggestions can help all elementary school children and may even be useful for preschoolers.
Prior to sitting in a circle, children should be allowed to engage in some form of gross motor activity (eg stretching, jumping jacks). This may not only be necessary 2-5 minutes before circle time, but may also be necessary during this time if the time the children are expected to stand still is longer than 20 minutes. Children with high energy may need to run for more than 5 minutes and if a recess can be scheduled just before they have to sit down, disruption will be minimized.
All children need recess, preferably in a green space. We know from countless studies that green spaces, such as tree-lined parks and playgrounds, and physical activity will improve ADHD hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and inattention. All children benefit from green space and exercise, but for children with ADHD, twenty to thirty minutes of active outdoor play is as important to their therapy as medical treatment.
The trend in many schools is to eliminate recess, but most teachers come to find that skipping recess is counterproductive and all children are more attentive after a break in the outdoors. Parents of children with AHDDF should insist that their child’s school include a fresh air break in its curriculum.
Once circle time has begun, a small sketchbook can keep a hyperactive child busy, just like quiet “work.” Some teachers give restless children a stack of pencils and ask them to sort them by color, other children are asked to sharpen the class pencils. Rubber bands can be sorted by color and markers can be organized and wrapped in rubber bands. Creative teachers have found that giving active children “work” during circle time can keep children attentive and engaged.
Some schools have had great success using “talking sticks” during circle time. For impulsive ADHD children, this reminder of when it’s not appropriate to talk can be a powerful and helpful tool. It is also important for the teacher to communicate to the children what activity is acceptable during circle time, as many young children do not intuitively know what the expectations are. Children with ADHD may be particularly unaware of teacher expectations and clear, age-appropriate instructions regarding circle time rules are essential if children are to learn during this school activity.
Many school-aged ADHD children have trouble sitting still during circle time. The school and classroom strategies described above can help make the circle an educational, relaxing, and productive time for every child in the class.
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