Children involved in tree planting

Most forward-thinking  instructors and teachers understand how to meet the special needs of children with ADHD. Sadly, many parents don’t.

ADHD is an acronym for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Children with ADHD struggle with attention problems, as well as hyperactivity.  Instructors are trained to help ADHD kids deal with their personal obstacles and meet their learning potential.  However, parents can often find it hard to keep children safely occupied after school hours.    

If your child has ADHD, the first step to choosing the right after school activity is to understand how she or he is affected by the condition.  If your child is interested in sports, you have to know if he or she is put off by fierce competitiveness, or is overly competitive. Is it easy for your child to get along with playmates? Does your child vocalize emotions, or is communication a concern?

Physical exercise is advantageous to all children, and perhaps more so for children with ADHD. Exercise can use up the additional energy and help stimulate the brain.  Team activities offer children to learn valuable social skills and discipline.  If your child shies away from team sports, you may want to look at activities like dancing, swimming, cycling or gymnastics.  Martial arts are a great alternative, as they teach self-defense techniques along with discipline,  self-control and patience.

Some children tend to gravitate towards fine arts rather than athletics.  There are wonderful after school activities for artistic kids with ADHD.  Acting or improving classes deliver a great form of creative expression and exercise. Drama classes can also furnish the child with ample opportunity to develop social skills. Music, dance or art  can help a child with ADHD keep busy and entertained, while providing a valuable sense of self-worth and accomplishment.

Scouting is one good after-school option.  Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and other community-oriented clubs teach children personal values and social skills.  Like all children, kids with ADHD love to take part in special interest projects, and help with community efforts like park clean-up activities.

Whatever after school program you select, be sure to monitor your child’s progress periodically.  Ask your child’s coach, counselor or instructor  for help in assessing your child’s development.  If you feel that he or she is not benefiting from the program, you may need to think of changing the activity.

Any after school program that increases your child’s self-esteem is good, but some activities may be harmful to the development of a child suffering from ADHD. Excessive television use should be avoided, as well as certain video and computer  games. These activities involve no interaction and can leave your child feeling more all the more alone. Kids with ADHD can sometimes find it hard to distinguish between good and the bad messages, so they may be inclined to exhibit inappropriate actions or act out contrary messages.  However, group activities that require a child to sit and wait patiently for his or her turn might not be a success.

Children with ADHD are normal children facing above average challenges.  It is important to let them to take part with their peers in regular after school programs.  Take the time to review options with your child, and choose after school activities that are challenging, fulfilling,  and above all, rewarding.

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