Help ADHD students retain the classroom study skills and homework routines they've worked hard to build over the school year during winter break with these brain-boosting activities kids will love.
by Ben Glenn
If they haven’t let out already, most schools are getting ready to close for winter break. And I am sure the best holiday gift any teacher could get this year is a couple weeks away from their students and vice versa. (There are only two times a year when I see teachers and students exhibit the same exuberance: the day before winter break and the day before summer break. I wonder why?)
But is the break really a gift for our kids? Since back-to-school time, parents and teachers have been working hard to get students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and/or other special needs in a routine and on track with good classroom behavior and study skills. So it’s crucial that the progress that has been made over the last few months is not lost over the holidays. But how?
As a student growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, where the winters are so cold my family and I were accustomed to hibernating during the winter months, I was always amazed by how much I forgot over the break. When I was a kid, those two weeks consisted of lots of sleep, lots of playing, lots of cookies, and lots more sleep. They also kick-started the deep slumber of winter.
Now there is nothing wrong with getting some good rest, but like a car that sits too long, eventually that battery can lose its charge. It would sometimes take me almost a full month to get back on track with the school routine. I would even forget my locker combination! In all seriousness, this was a terrible setback -- especially for a student like me who wasn't doing that well to start with.
So right around now, one might think this is all a big lead-up to me encouraging teachers to assign homework during winter break. No way. I could never suggest such a thing! First of all, my day job involves speaking to lots of students, and if they ever found out I suggested such a thing (blasphemy!) my name would be mud. Secondly, it’s called a vacation for a reason -- having to do schoolwork negates the vacation and turns the entire time into a game of procrastination. Sure, the work will get done, but it will get done on the last night before school starts and it will be the most half-hearted effort you’ve ever seen. So, no homework. Instead, I suggest making sure to fill your ADHDer with fewer sugary treats and a lot more (deceptively fun mental) stimulation!
There are lots of games out there that will help keep an ADHDer's mind engaged, energized, and active, and they’re fun! Sure, there's Wii or other video games, but old-fashioned board games like Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble, Pictionary, and (who could forget?) Twister will keep them on their toes. Board games force an ADHDer to slow down, problem-solve, and strategize -- much like they need to do in school. Plus, a good board game can be a great way to spend time together as a family.
One quick suggestion for a fun board game that you may not have heard of: Carcassonne. The best way to describe it is that it's like a competitive puzzle. Every game ends differently and the variety is a great way to keep anyone -- even the easily bored or distracted -- interested. I was just recently introduced to it and love it. Plus, I managed to get my wife to play it with me, which says a lot because she's not a gamer at all.
So happy holidays from the Simple ADHD Expert, and remember: Be sure to work in a few hours a day to play a board game to help your ADHDers keep their brains from hibernating this winter break.