Children with attention deficit disorder often struggle in school because of their short attention spans. Many quickly decide that they are “dumb” or “stupid” when the simple truth is that their condition is causing them to fail in the traditional school setting, which requires children to focus on one activity for an extended period of time. If you are a parent of a child with ADD or ADHD, you can actually use toys to help improve your child’s attention span and, in turn, performance in school. Here are some ways by Helene Goldnadel to use educational toys to improve attention deficit disorder.
What Your Child Needs from You?
As you consider toys to use to help improve your child’s attention span, keep in mind that your child needs to be able to focus on one activity or task for about 25 minutes in order to survive the first year of school. This number increases as the child advances through the educational system. If your child is a preschooler, take the time now to help her increase her attention span so that she can succeed in kindergarten. If she is an older student, talk to her teacher to learn what her attention span should be, and work slowly towards that goal.
Remember, your child needs to feel as though play time is play time. While you can, and should, reward good attention, you need to avoid making play time into school time. Keep it fun, even as you focus on improving the signs of attention deficit disorder.
Use Books to Help with ADD
One of the best educational toys to use with children with ADD is a book. Choose books that are interesting to your child. Even if you do not like a particular book, use it if it appeals to the child with ADD. Even if your child is old enough to read, read aloud to him. Read as long as his attention allows, and then let him move to another activity. Gradually try to increase the amount of time spent reading.
Play a Game with Your Child
Another way to improve ADD with educational toys is to play games with your child. Any game that your child can understand is a great way to improve attention span. Your child will love the play time, as she likely relishes special time with mom and dad. Be sure the games require some thinking or concentration, rather than just allowing the child to move a piece after spinning a wheel or rolling a pair of dice.
Pretend with Your Child
Because pretend play allows them to get up and move while focusing on one thing, it is perfect for children with ADD. Buy educational toys that will encourage your child to pretend. Fake food, doctor’s kits, and dress up clothes are great additions to the ADD child’s toy box. These do not have to be complicated. Simply choose toys that will get his imagination flowing.
Puppets are more great toys to use with these kids. Because they allow the child to use his imagination and create crazy scenarios, puppets are very appealing to an ADD child. Also, you can stretch your child’s attention span with puppets, as it takes time and effort to put on a puppet show. Be a good audience and reward and praise the effort!
Parenting a child with attention deficit disorder is frustrating at times. The energy level of these children is simply exhausting for most adults. By finding ways to play with your child that require him to focus for longer and longer periods of time, you can help curb the energy a little while still enjoying one on one time with your child. In this way, both of you win, and your child will also benefit from increased performance in school!