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Kids that Fidget

It can be hard for any child to sit still in classes all day long.  Let’s face it – it would be hard for most grown-ups to sit still that long.  Even with breaks, lunch, and recesses, kids are still expected to be still and quiet for long periods of time.  This becomes even more of a struggle for kids with special needs like ADHD or autism.  There are some resources that will give your children an outlet for them to fidget in a calmer manner.

Pencil Fidgets

Kids that have to be doing something with their hands with appreciate these pencil toppers.  Each of the four kinds has a long piece that fits on the pencil.  The long piece holds a shorter piece that can move up and down.  A child can sit in class with their pencil and still be able to move their hands without distracting other students or the teacher.

Stress Balls

Another help for kids that fidget is the common stress ball.  In this case, the stress ball is not just to relieve stress.  The purpose instead is simply for the child to have something to do with their hands.  Squeezing the stress ball allows children to release energy in a less active way.

Chew Objects

While some children need to move or fidget with their hands, other children need to chew on things.  If not given something specific, these students tend to bite their fingernails, chew on their pencils, or even suck on their hands.  If you child is a student like this, it may help to give them something that is specifically for them to chew on.  Companies are making chewing objects for kids that are fun and cute accessories.  Boys will like the dog tags while girls with feel pretty in a beaded necklace.

So if your child needs to fidget in class, try out one of these toys.  Maybe they need to hand movement or feeling in their mouth to help them concentrate.  Maybe the need to move or chew is completely out of their control.  Either way, these toys are resources that can help.  What other sensory toys does your child like to use?

Photo by: Kids that Fidget

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Motivating an ADHD Student

It can be hard to keep a student with ADHD motivated and working hard.  They are so prone to daydreaming that keeping them focused can be a challenge.  Their are some tricks you can use to help keep them focused and motivated as they work.

Break Work Into Smaller Chunks

Sometimes long worksheets or a whole page of math problems will overwhelm an ADHD child.  When they feel overwhelmed, they shut down and become less focused on their work.  You can solve that problem simply by splitting the same assignment into smaller sections.  Use a piece of construction paper to cover up the bottom two-thirds of the page.  Then tell your child that they can have a short break when they finish that top section.  When they finish, give them a 5 minute break before having them do the next third of the page.  Just shortening the amount of problems they have to look at all at once can help an ADHD child focus better.

Time Their Work

You can also have them race to beat their own time on each section of the paper.  As they start each section, start a timer somewhere that they can see it.  After the section, write down their time for that section.  Time them on each section and encourage them to see if they can beat their own time.  You may want to keep an eye out though for how they react to the timer.  For most children, seeing the timer will motivate them to work faster.  Some students, however, may get distracted by the timer and actually work slower.  If you find this to be the case, try putting the timer in a place that they cannot see and just telling them their end time for each section.

Give Them Caffeine

This may sound strange to say about a child, but a small amount of caffeine before an assignment or class can keep them more focused.  Of course, I don’t mean that you should give them a full cup of coffee before every class!  But if you notice that they are getting more and more distracted, give them a mini candy bar or a chocolate kiss.  You could also give them a soda during lunch to help them focus during those long afternoon classes.  The jolt of caffeine stimulates their brain and allows them to stay involved in their work instead of sleepy and daydreaming.

It is difficult to force an ADHD student to pay attention through an entire day of classes, but there are things that can help.  Talk with your child’s teacher about possibly implementing some of these ideas.  Or teach your child to use these ideas on their own.  You will see a difference in their attention before too long!  What other tricks do you use to help your ADHD student focus on their work?

Photo by:  Practical Cures

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4 Reading Tips for Students from a Real Author

Rick Riordan, author of novels about Percy Jackson, an ADHD and dyslexic character and father to an ADHD and dyslexic son, has a lot of experience working with students with learning disabilities.

reading

Rick has turned his story into a five-book series. From all that he has learned from his writings and his experiences with his own son who deals with learning disabilities, Rick has come up with four important tips about helping students with learning disabilities with reading.

Model reading at home

Since children look up to their parents in many things they do, it is important that they set a good example about reading while they are in their homes. If parents can set aside a time where they dedicate to reading, either to their children, or with their children, kids will see that reading is an important thing to do and can be fun, especially with the whole family. It can also be the starting point for great discussions or talks.

Match your children with the right books

Each child has their own set of interests and hobbies. It is important to let them pick and choose the types of reading material they want to read. By taking note on what they are interested in, you can discover new reading material that will keep your kids engaged and interested in reading.

Create a productive environment for reading

While children are reading, they should be focused on the task at hand. Many children with ADHD and other learning disabilities can focus better when there are fewer distractions, but a simple object, like a stress ball or eraser. It is also important to help them find a comfortable spot, like on a sofa or in the backyard where they can enjoy the area around them.

Most importantly, keep the long view

Having learning disabilities may bring up some obstacles, but should not shut down any dreams or goals for students with them. There are so many examples of very successful people with ADHD and dyslexia, among other disabilities. Staying focused and continuing reading can help these students learn and grow!

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Behavior Management Tips & Tricks for ADD & ADHD Students

Students with ADD and ADHD have difficulty focusing and concentrating in class.  In the inclusion setting, these difficulties can be displayed via various attention seeking behaviors including calling out in class and other disruptive behaviors that affect the learning environment of all students.  Typical behavior management techniques like rewards, redirection, and providing explicit instruction do not always resolve the issue, especially for tweens and teens.  Creative management techniques may be the answer.

classroom

Be Consistent

Students with ADD or ADHD do benefit from a structured environment.  In a structured environment, the students should be provided not only explicit directions, but also have the behavior and academic expectations modeled to them on a consistent basis.  The teacher needs to be consistent with praise, punishment, and upholding high standards both academically and behaviorally.  Both praise and consequences should be given immediately.  This way, the student can attach the feedback to the action.   When administering consequences, be aware of how the student may feel if they are singled out in the classroom.  If the student is sensitive, consequences should be handled in a manner to make the student not retract or feel defensive.

Creative Positive Reinforcement

Creative positive reinforcement techniques must be used with tweens and teens.  Typically, behavior charts and prizes are not the reinforcement they are looking for the most.  However, I have had a good response with verbal and written praise.  I have had many students with ADHD want to have a daily update on “how did I do” or “did I do better today”.  I will respond with explicitly what was good or bad.  For example, “I liked how you raised your had today every time you had a question” or “tomorrow, I’d like you to spend 5 minutes (with a timer) working on your worksheet in class.”  Being specific will help the child to know specifically what to work on and what they did well.

Incorporating Technology

Teens and tweens are highly motivated by the use of technology.  Using technology in your behavior management strategy with students with ADD or ADHD can help you to provide consistency and reinforcement.  One way to do this would be to have the student create a Google Calendar.  This calendar can be shared between the teachers, parent, and student.  The student can update the calendar with information about homework, projects, and assessments.  They can also create an area that can be updated with a reflection on how the student felt the class or day went.  Teachers can then read and also add or post information about the behavior and academic goals for the student.  This type of strategy will also help for parent communication and can be integrated to be used through a cell phone or other cell applications.

Teachers and students could also use one of the many online point and reward sites.  These sites allow teachers (or parents) to track student behavior.  Once students reach a certain goal, they will earn various rewards or incentives that can be setup by the teacher.  One free site that is specifically designed for the classroom is KidsPoints.  On this site, a teacher can add all of their students into the program.  Each student would have a login and password.  The teacher then will add or remove points based on a set of criteria.  Once the student earns the required amount of points for the reward, they then can redeem it with the teacher.

Every student will need different modifications to help them to be successful both academically and behaviorally.  Trying out some of these creative techniques may be the key to a successful year in your classroom and help those students with ADD and ADHD be successful as well.

Online Resources for Teachers

  1. Online Stopwatch (helps to time activities, quiet time, and attention lengths)
  2. KidsPoints (online reward tracking system)
  3. Positive Reinforcement Checklist

Article By: Laura Ketcham

Picture By:telekommunist

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Bouncing Around Class- Nontraditional Settings for Students

At Adelaide Elementary School in Bountiful, Utah, classes can sometimes be out of the ordinary.

In Meredith Dyer’s classroom, about one-third of her fourth grade students sit on big bouncy balls instead of traditional desks and chairs. These large fitness balls allow the kids to rock and roll and bounce around while they are learning.

bouncy balls

For the three years that she has been using the balls in class, Dyer has noted that for some of her students that have trouble focusing in the classroom, the balls have actually helped them stay on task. Teachers around the country have also started using the bouncy balls instead of small, stiff chairs, noting it is also a way for students to shake off extra energy while also improving posture.

A study from the American Journal of Occupational Therapy found the balls have positive effects for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). They help them stay seated and write more clearly. Other studies from autism researchers have found the balls may also help children with autism stay in their seats and be more engaged in their surroundings.

There are even companies, like WittFitt that sells these balls specifically for school use. Started by a former teacher, she originally used the balls about 10 years ago to help students become more physically active. She now sells them along with lesson plans and information for teachers on posture, health and other safety tips for students using them in the classroom.

Students will benefit in more than one way by using these balls in the classroom. Improving posture, focus and comfort are just a few of the reasons to try it out.

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Picture By: stevendepolo

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