For Teachers

Play “Beat the Clock” to Help Your Students Stay Focused

Children with ADHD often have trouble staying focused and productive during independent work time. Try this teaching strategy to motivate your students.

My seven-year-old student has problems doing work independently. He sits passively at his desk and won’t complete his school assignments. How do I motivate him?

Children with ADHD often have trouble staying focused and productive during independent work time. A strategy that helps many children is the “beat-the-clock system.” During a 20-minute independent work period, the teacher divides the time into shorter segments (say, two 10-minute sessions), and sets mini-goals for each of the sessions.

For example, the student may be asked to write two complete sentences or to do one row of math problems. Then the teacher sets a timer to go off after 10 minutes.

If the task is completed on time, the student earns a reward, such as a sticker or star to be placed on a progress chart that he keeps at his desk. After earning several stickers or stars, he gets a bigger reward. To increase his motivation, let your child choose his own reward.

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