5 Focus Tricks for Students with ADHD Learning at Home
Nearly two months into the lockdown, students with ADHD are noticing both the benefits (self-guided pace, movement breaks) and drawbacks (no one-on-one interaction, heavy reliance on self-motivation) of virtual learning. One common hurdle is focus — specifically learning how to ignore domestic distractions and persevere without a teacher standing nearby. Here are the solutions ADDitude families are using with some success.
Siblings are noisy. Video games are enticing. The pantry is calling. Learning at home is rife with distractions, and many students with ADHD are finding it more difficult than ever to focus on their schoolwork.
So what keeps your child on task and on schedule while learning from home?
We asked this question to ADDitude readers recently and more than 200 responded with tips and tools that inspire focus in their child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Here are the five most common and helpful solutions.
Visual Schedules for Focus
“Giving my child a schedule and allowing him to cross off each item as he completes it is very helpful. I start each day with his least favorite subjects and then end with his favorite.”
“We keep index cards with my kids’ ‘must dos’ in a pocket chart. As they complete the activities and lessons, they place the index cards in the complete pile. Once all their ‘must dos’ are complete, they can move on to their ‘may dos.’”
“We have a large whiteboard that we have divided into the days of the week, with two sizes of Post-It notes — one for schoolwork and another for activities. Having a very colorful, clear visual representation of what needs to be completed has really helped our children take control and responsibility.”
“Schedule, schedule, schedule. We write the daily schedule minute by minute on a white board each day. It reduces anxiety and arguing from our ADHD student!”
Alarms and Timers for Focus
“One of my sons uses a Revibe watch to help keep him focused and productive during the day. I also make sure to schedule breaks throughout the day to unwind and recharge. We use the breaks in two ways – work for xx amount of time, then it will be time for a break, or complete xx amount of an activity, then it will be time for a break. It just depends on what assignment or activity my kids are working on at the time.”
“We use a basic timer for 30-minute increments for optimal focusing time with breaks after each 30 minutes.”
Mobile Apps for Focus
“We found a great app (OurPact) that allows me to control what apps are available to my teen at any given time. Her phone is on lock down when she’s doing homework, and if she needs a specific app she will come to me and ask me for it, and I will give it to her for an allotted amount of time that she needs it.”
“My kids can have a fidget toy to help them stay calm and focused while doing schoolwork. We do mindfulness activities together like deep breathing, meditation, and body scanning to foster social-emotional wellbeing at home as well. I also use some apps like Focus Keeper Pro and Choiceworks Calendar to help kids stay on task and on schedule while learning from home.”
“I use Go Noodle for brain breaks between activities.”
Rewards and Breaks for Focus
“If there are no big problems, my children get a reward of their choice at the end of the week: a movie for family movie night, picking what is for supper, or game night.”
“My son gets small tokens/privileges for being able to stay focused throughout the day and utilizing skillsets that assist him when he gets frustrated.”
“My children are allowed some non-screen options for breaks. Taking sensory or calming breaks, like working on a puzzle or having a healthy snack, help them to refocus.”
“After each subject, my son gets a timed break for 10 to 15 minutes. He is allowed to stand or sit on his bouncy chair while doing work. He has fidgets that he uses during ZOOM and that helps to keep him focused. After all his schoolwork is complete, he can play on the iPad. iPad time is always earned.”
Music for Focus
“My 13-year-old son uses music to help him stay focused. He likes to work in the living room on the laptop to be comfortable. He puts his earbuds in and he is good to go.”
“Music is a fun reward in our house, so after a set amount of time, they can either play an instrument for 20 min or listen to music with headphones. Knowing the kids will buckle down to get more music time, helps keep me sane.”
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Updated on May 18, 2020