Tips for Nurturing the Potential of Children with ADHD as an EFL Teacher
The term "Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" has been around for the past 20 years. It is quite new for many families to fully understand why their children fail to fully pay attention in class, leading to poor performance. High school dropouts often do not know why they cannot keep up with their classmates and find themselves in trouble due to a lack of self-control.
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Attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a very common childhood neurodevelopmental disorder. Many children with ADHD do not tend to do well in school due to their inability to stay focused on uninteresting subjects, resulting in poor grades. However, if they are interested in something or use their hands and incorporate movements, they may do better than expected.
- Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
- Has difficulty sustaining attention
- Does not appear to listen
- Struggles to follow through with instructions
- Has difficulty with organization
- Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring mental effort
- Loses things
- Easily distracted
- Is forgetful in daily activities
- Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in the chair
- Has difficulty remaining seated
- Has difficulty engaging in activities quietly
- Talks excessively
- Blurts out answers before questions are completed
- Has difficulty waiting or taking turns
- Interrupts or intrudes upon others
No one's brain is perfect, including children whose brains are still developing. Labeling, judging, criticizing, or punishing them is not going to improve their school performance. Many children with ADD/ADHD who do not perform as well as other kids their age end up having low confidence and eventually drop out of college. Even though the disorder itself is not recognized in many countries, American psychiatrists started prescribing medications in the US, hoping these kids could get better grades. However, there are alternative methods teachers and parents can use to help them cope with their condition without any side effects and proven to be highly successful.
You do not have to be a monk to sit still for a long time, focusing on deep inhalation or exhalation. The good news is that it can be learned and practiced by anyone with the intention to gain awareness by not letting distraction or thoughts take control of oneself. It may sound very profound, but children who have done the work are able to focus MUCH better. There is research and studies on how meditation changes the frontal lobe of the brain, the CEO of a person that controls decision making, attention, and focus. Teachers in Taiwan and China have their students meditate before lectures to improve their concentration and unwanted behaviors in class. A parent came to me seeking help and requested meditation for her son in the hope that he would be able to concentrate better. Meditation is now a part of my class as he truly needs the necessary tools and skills for his life down the road, or else, he would have to deal with the consequences later on.
There is no denying that exercise comes with many benefits, enhancing cognitive function for better mental performance. If you want to stay sharp, be an athlete or do qigong or yoga. Twenty minutes of high-intensity exercise should be good enough to bring oxygen and blood to the frontal lobe of the brain. Sports such as table tennis force them to focus on the ball as much as possible because the winner within themselves does not want to give up at any cost. They learn the value and importance of careful attention to help their partners win as a team, or else they will get kicked out of the league.
Pictionary, Simon says, Hangman, Kahoot, Roleplay are a few short games that do not require intense focus and are fun to play. Most young learners really enjoy playing games. Drawing games also work great for kids.
It is also the teacher's job to find out what works best for their students. Oftentimes, having the patience and discipline to work with challenges will lead to great results in the end. For me, knowing when to use rewards to engage them in different lessons makes the best out of every child I work with. Two of my students happen to be twins that love to pick on one another, making them great competitors. So, I decide to give each of them a point for every correct answer they have, and guess what? They pay great attention to every single question I ask and do their best to strive to finish any given task as soon as possible.
Let me know if you find these tips helpful. Be the reason that they do not give up on themselves. Perhaps only teachers are the ones who could help them become the best version of themselves.
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