Dr. Carrie McMillin is a naturopathic physician that specializes in treating adults and children with ADHD and anxiety.
Back to Blog
The abrupt transition to online school last year was less than ideal and has left families dreading virtual classes in the fall. So in order to support a successful year, I have created a Remote Learning Survival Guide, with some simple steps for parents of ADHD kids. Be sure to check out Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 before diving into the rest of the guide!
Step 4: Consider the learning environment
An uncomfortable desk or seat is a distraction for the whole body. So it's a good idea to do a quick check to see if making an adjustment to your child' working environment could be helpful.
A general rule of thumb for finding the right chair and desk size is: they should be able to have their feet rest flat on the floor and be able to sit with their elbows on the desk and their chin resting comfortably in their hands.
Taller kiddos may need a taller chair and desk, while shorter (often younger) children need a shorter chair and table.
If their feet don't reach the floor easily, something as simple as adding a footstool may be helpful.
Some kids focus much better at a standing desk. This doesn't have to require purchasing an expensive new piece of furniture. Another option is to set their computer on top of a heavy duty box or something like an adjustable laptop stand that goes on a table or desk.
If seating seems to be at the correct height, but they fidget a lot with their feet, try tying resistance/exercise bands around chair or table legs. Some kids also do well with a foot roller or swinging foot fidget bar. When my daughter is feeling particularly fidgety, we have a small weighted medicine ball that she rolls around with her feet while sitting at the table.
For those that need more of a "whole body fidget," I like wiggle cushions and yoga balls to sit on. My favorite is the kind of yoga ball that is weighted. This still requires all the muscles that maintain posture to be constantly activating in order to keep balance, but doesn't roll around excessively.
Another tool that can be helpful for minimizing environmental distractions is a simple tri-fold board placed around their work area. This can be particularly useful if you have more than one child at the same table! I love this option because it is inexpensive and folds up easily to be stored out of the way.
Many of these suggestions come down to what I talked about in Step 1-- Be flexible. You may find that you have a few different seating options for your child and what they need one day is a bit different from what they need the next. Involve them in the process of problem-solving. You might say, "You seem to be having trouble sitting in your chair today, would you like to try your wiggle cushion to see if that helps?"
There are so many more options for what you can use to help minimize distractions and improve focus, so if the ones I've mentioned aren't the right fit for your kiddo, don't give up. Tap those innovative ADHD brains to find the best tools for you!
You've got this!