Behavioral therapy and calming activities can be more effective than medicine for kids with ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises primary care clinicians to prescribe behavioral therapy before opting for medicine.
ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is common with children. The objective is to harness the extra energy of children at school through more productive and creative ways. This would not only help in increasing their attention span but also improve their motor and cognition skills.
Students with ADHD tend to be in constant motion. They can never sit still for a specified time. Specific calming activities for students with ADHD are often adopted to improve their concentration that would help in enhancing their academic performance.
Handling hyperactive children:
One or two hyperactive kids in the classroom are enough to make the class uncontrollable. Although it may seem tough to handle hyperactive kids, it is always not so. The teacher should know that hyperactivity is not a choice but a biological disorder based in the brain. Hyperactive kids may lag in social maturity.
Even if the kid is at par academically with his peers, one should always consider him two years younger than others in terms of maturity. This would help the teacher frame the right mindset which is crucial while dealing with hyperactive kids.
11 Calming activities for students with ADHD that can be followed in the classroom:
1. Encourage relaxing activities in the classroom:
Calming activities for students with ADHD implies engaging their body and mind in sync. Therefore, the best way to achieve this is to allow a few relaxation activities in the classroom. Talk to them slowly in a simple language. Keep your voice low and soft so as to make them feel relaxed. The ultimate goal is to set a relaxing atmosphere in the classroom.
2. Allow some body movement throughout the school time:
This is perhaps one of the best ways to handle a hyperactive kid especially the kindergarten and 1st -grade ones. Encourage the entire class to participate in stretching and jogging activities followed by some dance and music.
With senior students, movement types may be different. Give them the responsibility to do some tasks involving some movement like distribution of papers, collecting notebooks or helping teachers in arranging books and papers.
3. Arrange for alternate high-and low-energy lessons:
A period of creative writing after a high-energy musical class can help in proper channelization of energy for ADHD students. They will feel easy to concentrate after a high energy session. Similarly, setting a mathematics class after recess or physical education can give similar results.
4. Provide an alternative seating arrangement:
You will not be able to control a hyperactive kid within the confines of a chair. They can be better focused if some movement is allowed while reading. They will not have to focus too much on sitting still on the chair but focus on learning with all energy.
You can make them stand on raised tables or allow them pace to along gently while reading. A rocking chair in the classroom may also help where the kid will find himself relaxed by rocking and paying attention to teaching at the same time.
5. Engage them in play-based activities:
One of the best calming activities for students with ADHD is to keep them engaged in play-based activities. These can be easily arranged in a school. For example, an activity box can help in keeping an ADHD student meaningfully engaged. This improves his concentration and memory and also helps in skill development.
6. Behavior therapy:
Behavior therapy is another great way to calm a child with ADHD. Reward your student for good manners, improving his concentration and reducing hyperactivity. Encourage them for listening to you and keeping things in order. They will stick to their habits.
7. Engage them in outdoor sports:
Outdoor games like basketball, football, cricket, baseball, volleyball and badminton are great calming activities for students with ADHD. Since they won’t have to stand still for a long time, these activities are perfect to channelize their energy.
They will improve concentration, develop sportsmanship and learn the essence of team spirit. If they are not willing to participate in the above activities, encourage them for running exercises which is not only good for their health but will give a sense of accomplishment.
8. Take them for nature trails:
Nature in its own way will soothe a hyperactive kid. Kids love natural surroundings. Schools can arrange for hiking, trekking and rock climbing. These help in building physical endurance and are great calming activities for students with ADHD.
9. Give them mind games:
What can be a better way to calm a child with ADHD other than giving them mind games? This will help them to improve their attention span and frame thoughts in a proper manner. Let them exercise their brains with scrabbles, chess and match pairing. They will sit in one place and try to concentrate.
10. Engage them in yoga and deep breathing techniques:
Needless to mention, this can be one of the most useful ways to calm a child with ADHD. Schools can arrange for yoga and deep breathing sessions that will teach students self-control and help them in improving focus and concentration.
11. Calming the sensory inputs:
School, classroom, classmates, friends, varied types of lessons – a child has the maximum sensory inputs in all possible ways. For a hyperactive child, this may be counterproductive. While relaxation activities in the classroom can be great to calm down a child with ADHD, the school can adopt certain strategies to calm the sensory inputs.
- Arranging a quiet space for the child. It may be a corner with bean bag chairs or a small covered space with a desk and chair. It is a great way to restrict the audio-visual inputs allowing the child to calm down.
- Another good calming activity for students with ADHD is applying a tactile system. Let the child run his fingers in a medium-sized plastic box filled with sand, rice grains and dry beans. This sensory feeling would help him to calm down quickly.
- Use the oral sensory system to calm the child. Chewing gums and other snacks like bagel and fruits can provide the required calming input.
- Extreme auditory inputs can leave the child overwhelmed and over stimulated. Talk in low voice to catch their attention instead of shouting. Use a noise meter to monitor the noise in the classroom. Noise reducing headphones are also useful for hyperactive kids getting excited in noisy situations.
- Children especially those are hyperactive easily get distracted and over stimulated by visual input. In school, there is no dearth of such inputs. Turning off the light or dimming it can be effective in reducing visual stimulation. A clear and clutter-free space reduces visual stimulation and kids can focus better.
- Certain repetitive movements can be calming for kids. For example, rocking, swaying, swinging can reset an overwhelmed and over stimulated child.