Helping Children with ADHD Succeed at Learning
ADHD is a common behavioural condition that affects decision making, concentrating, accessing working memory, and regulating emotions. Children with challenges in these areas often have trouble focusing, which makes learning in general more difficult.
It’s important to note that ADHD does not need to be a limitation, in fact, individuals with ADHD often have average or above-average intelligence. It simply means that it’s even more important to start early, and empower your child with self-confidence and foundational skills that level the playing field, making learning easier.
The key to accessing knowledge and to succeeding at learning is becoming a strong reader. A lifelong reader is a lifelong learner.
The first step towards developing a strong reader is to lay a foundation of pre-reading skills. Pre-reading skills are proven to be necessary tools for reading success. Succeeding at this first educational challenge will have a positive cumulative effect on a child’s school experience.
Pre-reading skills refer to phonological awareness.
Phonological awareness is the understanding that words can be broken down into parts and individual sounds. It includes auditory skills such as rhyming, blending, segmenting, alliteration, and sound manipulation.
Research shows that children who enter kindergarten with strong phonological awareness learn to read quicker than their peers without these skills.
Phonological awareness isn’t always included in the teaching curriculum, so it’s even more important to explore this with your child at home. This can be done in a variety of ways.
- Playing with Language
Play games like I Spy. Ask your child to find an object that starts with a particular sound, such as /sss/. Once your child has mastered identifying the initial sound of a word, ask for the last sound in a word, and then the middle sound. Identifying the beginning, middle and end sounds of a word lays the foundation that words are made up of parts.
It’s fun, interactive, and can be completed in a short amount of time, a bonus for children with ADHD.
- Learning Without Realizing It
Send your child on a treasure hunt for items around the house! Have your child find alliterative items that begin with a certain sound, or that rhyme with a certain word.
Your child doesn’t need to be sitting down to learn about language. Often a child with ADHD will absorb more while active than when forced to sit still.
- Take Small Steps
Teaching phonological awareness to a child with ADHD is much easier when done in small steps. For example, if you’re reading an interactive book with your child, read a few pages, then take a break. Play a game and come back to it. No step is too small.
In addition, children with ADHD often have the ability to hyper focus on certain activities if they’re invested. Choosing books that interest your child will go a long way towards keeping their attention and keeping them motivated.
- Read at Home
Find storybooks that practice skills like rhyming and alliteration, or even better: a storybook series that’s designed to teach all five skills associated with phonological awareness (blending, rhyming, segmenting, alliteration, and sound manipulation) such as Alpha-Mania Adventures. The books are fun and interactive, featuring games and activities on almost every page.
It’s also a great idea to have an open dialogue with your child’s teacher. This will help you to know which areas need more attention at home.
As a parent of a child with ADHD, it’s important to remember that learning moments might be less conventional. It’s OK if your child is active or doesn’t stay focused for long periods of time. Use these ‘outside the box’, interactive approaches to set your child on the road to reading and learning success.