This is part 2 of Tips for Parents of Teens with Attention Problems. Be sure to check out Part 1.
HANDS ON LEARNING EXPERIENCE
The hands-on and experiential strategies that you used when your child was in the elementary grades are also effective as he moves into upper grade levels. Use some of the ideas below, or let your teen exercise his creativity and come up with ideas of his own!
• Create a model of a bridge or famous building.
• Let your student videotape himself demonstrating a science experiment.
• Let your teen show off his cooking skills as he studies the culture of a foreign country in geography.
• Write and illustrate a children’s book.
• Write a song about an event in history.
• Make a prototype of an invention that uses a pulley.
• Construct “foldables,” three-dimensional graphic organizers that can be used at any grade level and with any subject area. Foldables can be used as a study guide, a motivating way to take notes, or as an alternative to taking tests. Your student is actively engaged in the learning process as he creates a foldable and is more likely to retain information as this hands-on activity includes a strong visual component.
After following precise directions, the student writes or draws the information on each surface of the folds. Foldable styles include accordion, shutter, matchbook, layered books, and tri-folds. I often used this activity when homeschooling and my children were very engaged. Since many of our students with attention difficulties have strong right brain tendencies, this allows them to display both their creativity and knowledge.
• Equip your teen with manipulatives to increase attention and alertness during his school day. According to Dr. Sydney S. Zentall, a leading educational researcher on attention deficits, doodling or fidgeting may help a student learn. So don’t be afraid to give your student a Koosh ball, some pipe cleaners, Silly Putty, or paper clips to handle while he is working on those science questions or writing that essay!
• Provide a giant exercise ball for your student to sit on instead of a chair. Many people believe that it helps posture by strengthening core muscles, provides needed movement, and relieves stress. Your teen will love you for it!
TAKE A BREAK
Periodically, encourage you teen to take a “brain break.” Brain research indicates that physical activity has the capacity to improve cognitive processing by rejuvenating the brain. Encourage your teen to get up and move!
• Jump on a trampoline.
• Do push-ups or stretches.
• Toss Koosh balls.
• Dance to music.
• Take turns clapping a rhythm for others to copy.
HELPFUL RESOURCES ON TEACHING STRATEGIES FOR TEENS WITH ATTENTION/FOCUSING DIFFICULTIES:
• Vocabulary Cartoons by Sam Burchers
• Teaching With The Brain In Mind by Eric Jensen
• Teaching the Right Brain Child by Dianne Craft
• Dianne Craft Webinar, “Kids and Teenagers with Focus/Attention Issues: What’s Up?”
-Joyce, HSLDA Special Needs Consultant
Photo Credit: Graphic design by Charity Klicka.