Dr. Carrie McMillin is a naturopathic physician that specializes in treating adults and children with ADHD and anxiety.
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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 before diving into the rest of the guide!
Step 2: Take breaks
This. Is. So. Important.
I mentioned breaks a bit in Step 1, but I'm giving them their very own step here. Research shows that our brains need breaks in order to learn and to sustain attention. But what should a break look like? And how frequent should they be?
Generally, I recommend a routine like this:
Everybody is different when it comes to how long they can focus on work, and it can also vary topic to topic.
For example, my 4th grader really struggles with math. So for this subject, she works hard for 10 minute intervals and takes 5 minute breaks.
A high school student working on an essay, however, may find 20 minute intervals of writing with 5 minute breaks works better for them.
What constitutes a break?
Well, really it's just disengaging from the task, but I always insist on at least standing up, stretching, and getting a drink of water. This creates a clear break for the brain and the body, which can help to improve focus once you sit back down to work.
There are lots of ways to make breaks more interesting, though. Some of my favorites are:
To make things a little more fun at our house, we write our break ideas on slips of paper and put them in a "brain break jar." When it's time for a break, you draw a slip and do what it says. As a bonus, we add 1 slip of paper that says "PRIZE!" When you pick this one, you get a small surprise!
For more info on effective ways to take breaks, check out information on the Pomodoro Technique. And remember that you may need to make adjustments based on your child, the subject, and sometimes even how the day is going.
You've got this!
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