Sitting still can be difficult for very young children. For children with ADHD, sitting still can be impossible. Most schools now use an activity called circle time to instruct children in all kinds of academic subjects. While sitting in a circle is better than being tied to a desk, for children with ADHD, this is still a difficult school activity.
Fortunately, there are strategies and devices that help all children stay involved during circle time, and for children with ADHD, these strategies can mean the difference between learning and sitting in a ‘rest’ place for most of the time. day. This list of suggestions can help all elementary school kids and may even be helpful for preschoolers.
Before sitting in a circle, children should be allowed to participate in some form of gross motor activity (eg, stretching, jumping jacks). This may be necessary not only 2 to 5 minutes before circle time, but may also be necessary during this time if the amount of time children are expected to be quiet is more than 20 minutes. High-energy children may need to run for more than 5 minutes, and if a recess break can be scheduled just before having to sit still, interruptions will be minimized.
All children need a recess, preferably in a green space. We know from countless studies that green spaces, wooded parks and playgrounds, and physical activity will improve ADHD hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and inattention. All children benefit from green spaces and exercise, but for children with ADHD, twenty thirty minutes of active outdoor play is as important to their therapy as medical treatment.
The trend in many schools is to eliminate recess, but most teachers find that skipping recess is counterproductive and that all children are more vigilant after a fresh air break. Parents of children with ADHD should insist that their children’s school include a fresh air break in its curriculum.
Once circle time has begun, a small sketchbook can keep a hyperactive child busy as can quiet “work.” Some teachers give fidgety children a pile of crayons and ask them to sort them by color, while other children are asked to sharpen class pencils. Rubber bands can be classified by color and markers can be organized and wrapped in rubber bands. Creative teachers have found that giving active kids a “job” during circle time can keep kids engaged and engaged.
Some schools have had great success with the use of “talking sticks” during circle time. For impulsive kids with ADHD, this reminder of when talking is inappropriate can be a powerful and helpful tool. It is also important for the teacher to communicate to the children what activity is acceptable during circle time, as many young children do not intuitively know what the expectations are. Children with ADHD may be especially unfamiliar with teacher expectations, and clear, age-appropriate instruction regarding the rules of circle time is essential for children to learn during this school activity.
Many school-age children with ADHD find it difficult to sit still during circle time. The school and classroom strategies described above can help make circle time an educational, relaxing, and productive time for all children in the classroom.