Multi Sensory Learning
Children with attention deficits learn best when they are using multiple senses in their learning experience. For example, listening to a book being read out, and following the words on the pages helps them to read more easily. Similarly, reading out loud will help some children to stay focused.
Writing and spelling can be practiced with a variety of mediums including finger painting, writing on sand, typing and craft activities. Math and science can be learnt through hands-on activities and experiments. These methods of learning engage all the senses of the child and provide fewer opportunities for distraction.
Eliminating Environmental Distractions
Multi sensory learning is not always possible, and there are times when children just need to sit down and do their homework. In this case, blocking out environmental distractions is a great way to help them to work. Eliminate distracting noises by closing doors or windows, switching off the TV and radio, and restricting visitors to the house at study time. Visual distractions can be reduced by keeping story books and other distracting items away from the child’s study space. Place the table and the chair next to the wall in such a way that the child is facing the wall while he or she studies. Designate that space for study and avoid using it for other activities as much as possible. If the child is using a computer, monitor activity to ensure that only the assignment is being worked on.
Schedules bring structure into a child’s day and helps them to concentrate better at study time. Fix a time when your child is to study. Ensure that there are no other major activities happening at home at that time. Put up a schedule where the child can see it easily, and reward your child for following it.
Short Learning Sessions
Children who have short attention spans learn better with multiple short sessions, rather than one long one. Keep sessions 15- 20 minutes long and schedule one or two for an evening. Within a session, help a child concentrate better by changing activities – for example, spend ten minutes on reading and then ten minutes on writing.
Children with attention deficits concentrate better when a learning session is preceded by play or physical activity. For example, allow the child to play an outdoor sport for half an hour. Follow this by a learning session of 20 minutes. Then, get your child to do a few physical chores in the house like taking the garbage out, or taking the dog for a walk. Follow this by another learning session of 20 minutes.
In addition to these ideas, there is some adaptive equipment that can help children with attention deficits. Earplugs can be used to block out sound while working on an individual activity. Ball chairs can be used to help provide sensory stimulation while sitting, and can help children with attention deficits to concentrate well.
Helping children and their attention deficits in these simple ways will help them learn more and achieve more academically. As children become older, they integrate these techniques into their daily life, and are able to be successful in high school and college.
Denise Lynn Schilling, K. W. (2003). Classroom seating for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Therapy balls versus chairs. American Journal of Occupational Therapy , 534- 541.
Eberly University. (2007). Strategies for teaching students with ADHD. Retrieved from Eberly University: https://www.as.wvu.edu/~scidis/add.html