When educating children with ADHD, there can be a natural tendency to focus on the things a child finds most challenging, after all, these are the areas where most help is needed. We know that, with children that have ADHD, the level of interest that a child has in any given topic is critical to their chances of success. If a child with ADHD does not at least have their curiosity piqued by the subject matter placed before them, their brain wiring can make it virtually impossible for them to even start to work on a related assignment, let alone complete it.
We have to stop focusing our attention on areas where our children are struggling and choose to focus on the areas where our children tend to experience repeated success. And there are two reasons for this:
1) Success brings success: The one thing that parents tell me, more than anything else, is they want their children to be happy and have high self esteem. This is a simple equation: If your child spends more time on activities in which they experience success, their self esteem will increase. If he/she spends more time on activities where they experience frustration, failure and helplessness, their self esteem will decrease.
It's important for parents to remind themselves that no child needs to be good at everything. The world's most successful people, by any measure, are usually not those who are good at everything, but those who have found the one thing that they are passionate about and worked hard to be the best they can be at that one thing.
2) Once we have an understanding of a child's areas of greatest success, we are presented with the golden opportunity (and challenge) to develop ways to integrate the topics and methods that bring them the most success, with those that bring the least. By doing so, we open the child up to the possibility of grappling with topics that they couldn't even imagine being able to engage with.
And this is why I love these images that were posted by Michal Laufer-Ram on Facebook.
Michal is someone who I have met through my work in the educational toy industry and she makes the most beautiful games that help children to develop emotional intelligence and communication skills.
By integrating Lego into maths classes, Michal is perfectly demonstrating how a topic of great interest to a child can be woven into a lesson on a topic of less interest, thus far increasing the likelihood of the child engaging and learning.
If we allow ourselves to get creative, we can start to integrate topics that we never could have imagined working together, and to incredible effect.
In my own experience with teaching in the past, I've used Cookery to teach Geography, I've used Brain Teasers to teach History and I've used Football to teach English. And I can tell you that IT WORKS! And the beauty is, once a child finally manages to engage in a topic that never previously interested them, a) they start to feel like the impossible is possible and b) sometimes, just sometimes, they stumble upon a brand new area of interest that might even develop into a passion and a new opportunity to soar!
Where have you seen the integration of two unrelated topics used to successfully enable a child to engage with challenging topics? What are your child's areas of repeated success and how can they be integrated into topics that they find more difficult? I look forward to reading your comments below!