Focus Exercises to Get ADHD Kids Back to School After the Holidays

Most children are given a week or two off from school during the winter holidays to give them time to relax, celebrate with their families and come back to school feeling refreshed and ready to learn. Although most children both need and appreciate this break, the drastic change in routine can be quite difficult for children with ADHD to manage. Even just one week of no-rules fun at home can make it hard for them to adjust to being back in a classroom setting and needing to focus.

Most parents of ADHD children understand that transitions can be difficult for their kids. During the winter recess, try engaging your child in small mental challenges that exercise their concentration and memory. Working with your child on their focus during this short break can make the transition go much more smoothly, so that they are better prepared to jump back into schoolwork when the break is over.

What types of exercises are appropriate?

Brain exercises have been shown to strengthen the brain’s functions, helping to improve the areas that ADHD hampers regarding concentration and memory. When selecting brain and focus exercises for your child to do during their winter break, aim for short, easy and fun challenges that they can improve on over time. Because children with ADHD have trouble focusing already, you don’t want to frustrate them by presenting them with lengthy challenges or something that feels more like work than play.

Overall, maintaining a semblance of structure over winter break is important, but you’ll need to engage your child’s mind in different ways to keep their attention and make these focus-boosting exercises fun. To make completing these exercises more engaging and rewarding, give your child lots of praise and track their progress so they can see how they are improving over time.

The following exercises and games help to challenge and improve on your child’s ability to focus, remember small tasks, follow directions and learn sequences.

  • Printable mazes and search-and-find games: Paper challenges such as mazes or search-and-find exercises are fun for children to complete while encouraging them sit down and complete a task. These types of games can be found in varying difficulty levels, from extremely easy to quite challenging. Start your child off with easy options and time them to record how long it takes them to finish. Both completing the task and beating their previous time serve as rewards and encourage children to accomplish more.
  • Physical puzzle or memory games: There are tons of toys on the market that allow children to physically hold something in their hands while completing a puzzle or challenge. Games like Simon, which require children to remember and repeat sequences of color and sound, or three-dimensional maze games immerse children in the challenge while activating their ability to focus and remember simple things.
  • Coin game: To play the coin game, grab a handful of assorted coins and create a sequence, allowing your child to observe for a few seconds. Then, cover the sequence and have your child try to recreate it from memory, timing them and verifying whether they got it right. You can make the game more difficult over time using more coins per sequence and different kinds of coins to put your child’s memory to the test.
  • Story game: Story games function similarly to reading assessments teachers may conduct with your child at school, but you can make them more fun by offering a reward for correct answers. Read a short story and give your child a “pop quiz” at the end to test how much they paid attention and really understood the story. This particular activity helps build memory and concentration.
  • Quiet reading time: While this activity is not a game, it can function as a challenge to children with ADHD. Pick a book your child loves and have them read for a specific period of time each day. Set a timer so they know that there is a definitive end to the activity. If they won’t read alone, sit with them and read together. This forces your child to sit and focus on one task and can replicate lessons in school, providing the structure they need to carry them from one semester to the next.

The key to making focus exercises effective for your child is to make them as fun and engaging as possible while still challenging enough to make your child sit and think. Try incorporating just a few activities into each day, and space them out so your child does not feel overwhelmed by all of the tasks you want them to complete. By working with them one on one to improve their concentration and memory, you can make it much easier for them to return to school and settle back into their classroom routines—hopefully with a renewed sense of focus!

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