Using exercise as a method to improve a child’s attention span during tasks is an easy way to quickly provide a release of excessive energy through physical activity; which can be helpful for all children, not solely those who exhibit symptoms of ADHD!
It has been my experience that the idea of sitting and attending to structure tasks is daunting, and for kids with ADHD the simple act of sitting may in itself be overwhelming. Given these factors, we are interested in finding ways to use physical activity as tool to help harness kids’ ability sustain their attention at school, at home, and in the therapy setting.
How does exercise help keep the brain sharp for kids with ADHD?
- Exercise releases chemicals that assist in attention
- Exercise can reduce symptoms of impulsivity
- Studies have even shown that participation in sports has been linked to improved executive functioning (aka problem-solving skills)
Quick exercises for kids:
- Doing jumping jacks or star jumps
- Throwing/catching a ball outside
- Doing crab walk races
- Jumping on one foot at a time
- Running on the spot
- Dancing (click for “brain breaks” songs)
How to incorporate physical activity during therapy sessions and/or homework sessions?
During therapy sessions, as with any other structure tasks, it is imperative that children maintain their ability to stay focused and sustain their attention so that they can learn new skills and get the most productivity out of their lessons. With this in mind, incorporating exercise directly within therapy sessions or homework sessions can be a great way to keep children engaged, while keeping their brains in a state of learning readiness. Here are some great ways to integrate exercises within the session:
- As a mini break between articulation drills
- Between subtests during standardized testing
- During transitions between therapy activities
- Between worksheets
- After reading a certain number of pages
- After answering a certain number of questions
Wether for a child who exhibits symptoms of ADHD or not, the result of exercise yields positive effects on an individual’s ability to stay focused during structured tasks. Incorporating physical activity both at home, as well as during therapy sessions, is simple and easy to do. Plus, parents and therapists, feel free to join in with the kids as a fun and convenient way to squeeze in some exercise for yourselves!
Reminder -April is Autism Awareness month
The First Words team wants to recognize and show appreciation for all of our ASD families! If you haven’t had a chance, make sure to check out our blog on the Autism Sleep Struggle.