Children with ADHD find it hard to start tasks that they see as boring, overwhelming, or un-fun. Parents and teachers have to become marketing experts to spur their enthusiasm. Step right up folks, strap on your tap shoes (figuratively and literally), and get ready to transform tasks into adventures. If you are excited about starting a new project, your child will be, too.
Tools for Teachers
>Create some magic. Ask a former student to make a short commercial, poster, or advertisement for one of your upcoming assignments. Then sell that assignment as if it were Lego's newest adventure sets.
>Use mystery and suspense. Tell your students they will begin a secret project in one week. Reveal one clue each day before the project begins. Keep them guessing until the project officially kicks off.
>Get personal. When giving examples, use students' names and experiences to help students identify with the topic.
>Change classroom materials. If a student usually works on wide-ruled paper, switch to graph paper, college-ruled paper, or Post-It notes to capture his attention. Introduce different sizes and shapes of paper for different projects.
>Use auditory cues to signal start time. A kinetic clock will rouse a bored child. Time Machine keeps time by releasing a ball down a chute after 60 seconds elapse. You can say, "You will begin when you hear the next ball roll."
>Try a new pencil grip. New pencil grips can stimulate previously unused or misused muscle groups. This may be novel enough to get your student's pencil moving.
>Re-arrange desks and refresh room decorations before starting a big project. It will energize a child for the task ahead.
Pointers for Parents
>Talk up a project. Share a positive, personal story about your own experience with a similar school project, and don't leave out the funny parts. Communicate your expectations of fun and accomplishment.
>Do the assigned project. If your child has to prepare a rock collection for a science class, follow the teacher's instructions and create your own rock collection. Your child can take your lead on planning and managing time. Think out loud and talk through difficult steps as you assemble the collection. Let your child see you make a mistake.
>Get excited about chores. Turn chores into games. Matching, folding, and putting away clean socks is boring. However, Basketball Sock-Drawer Toss is awesome. Be sure to keep score. You can create a theme for other daily chores. Clean up a bedroom Mission Impossible-style: sneak around looking for spies and gathering up jewels (toys) and clues (clothes) on the floor.
>Change the setting. If your child usually works at a desk, temporarily relocate his work area to a dining room table, or, if weather permits, a porch or tree house. Excite your child, but don't over-stimulate him.
>Create a kickoff ceremony. Light a little candle, and make an official announcement, "The (task, assignment, or project) will now begin." After your child finishes the task, have him blow out the flame. Don't leave the candle near your child's work area.
This article appears in the Fall 2012 issue of ADDitude.
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To share strategies for getting your student excited about homework, visit the ADHD at School support group on ADDConnect.