A person with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is described by the University of Maryland Medical Center as one who exhibits the symptoms of inattention, distractibility, impulsivity and hyperactivity. Though the symptoms usually are recognized around the age of 7, they can begin as early as age 3. Having activities readily available can prove useful for a preschool teacher who finds she is having difficulty gaining and keeping the attention of a child with ADHD.
In this activity, children will learn the importance of being kind to one another while developing a vocabulary to express their emotions. As a class or in small groups, set the children in a circle and instruct them to say one nice thing about the person sitting across from or next to them. When needed, prompt them with descriptive words that express feelings and thoughts, and discourage silly remarks. Negative remarks may occur, which should be followed by a discussion of why a child feels the way he does and how a friendship could be improved.
One of the biggest problems a preschooler with ADHD faces is understanding time and time management. She will often leave a task before completing it, or spend too long on a task, diverting her attention from all other matters. Place an activity in front of each student, such as a puzzle or lacing board, and put a timer in plain view. Instruct them that they will have a specific amount of time to work on the activity. Give a reward, such as a sticker, to students who remain in their seat during the time and do not speak out of turn. Give an additional reward to children who compete the activity. The children will think of it as a game, while in fact you are helping to train them to manage their time and focus on a task.
A great activity for transitioning between learning activities with ADHD preschoolers is to play attention games. An example of an attention-grabbing game is to send the children on a modified treasure hunt throughout the classroom. Hide paper plates that children have previously turned into monsters throughout the classroom, and when you are ready to transition between activities, such as moving from centers to story time, instruct the children they are going on a monster hunt and that they must follow your clues carefully to locate all of the monsters in the classroom before you can sit down and read the day's story.
Provide your ADHD preschool students with a list of activities they can complete next to their desk or chair when they begin to feel restless. Desk-side activities can include allowing the children to get up and stretch and try to create shapes with their body and movements, or shake around to loosen up stiff joints and release tension, or try to balance on one foot while thinking of a list of items such as animals or vegetables.
Activities to Accompany Lessons
There are a variety of activities that can help ADHD students stay focused while you are teaching. To keep children focused during reading time, have them place pictures on a storyboard as you go through the story, or let them know they will get to retell the story when you have finished, giving their own version of the events. The LD Online website also suggests using board games that focus on early language concepts, audio books and manipulatives to help keep the children's hands busy during lessons.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Medical Reference: Patient Education: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - Introduction
- "Social Skills Activities for Special Children"; Darlene Mannix; 1993
- "Life Skills Activities for Special Children"; Darlene Mannix; 2009
- "Attention games: 101 fun, easy games that help kids learn to focus"; Barbara Sher, Ralph Butler; 2006
- "404 Deskside Activities for Energetic Kids"; Barbara Davis; 2008
- Photo Credit little preschooler image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com
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