Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

Kids with ADHD often experience challenges with attention and concentration. They may have difficulty maintaining their attention when doing tasks or playing. It can seem like their mind is elsewhere; it may appear that they don’t listen to instructions, or they may get easily distracted part way through a task. Kids with ADHD may show reduced attention to detail, appearing to make careless mistakes. They can be forgetful and have difficulty getting things organised, like getting things ready for a dance class.

Kids with ADHD can also be hyperactive and impulsive. They may fidget, appear restless, run or climb in situations where it is inappropriate or unsafe. They may talk a lot, interrupt others, and find it challenging to wait their turn or play quietly. They can be highly active. This can make group work challenging and can impact a kid’s communication and social interaction with others. Dance can help them to regulate their actions and they can also become great dancers!

What might be some challenges in the dance class?

  • Kids with ADHD may sometimes look like they are ‘daydreaming’. It may appear that they are not interested in the activity and they may not respond straight away when their name is called.
  • They may get distracted part way through an activity, needing instructions to be repeated so they know what to do.
  • Attention challenges can make it harder to learn new information.
  • Kids with ADHD who have challenges controlling their behaviour (e.g., they are hyperactive or impulsive) may be very active. They may jump into activities without all the instructions being explained, and they may be loud and very energetic. Being active and energetic can be great for dancing!

Add structure and routine to dance classes

  • Have a consistent routine: Having a consistent routine at each class will help the child know what is planned for the day, so even if they have missed instructions, they will know what to do.
  • Use a visual schedule: Use a visual schedule for each session that kids can see at all times. This will help them remember the sequence of activities in the class if they have missed instructions.
  • Set beginning and end signals: Beginning and ending signals set up group control and focus students. Beginning signals could be: one beat of a drum or word cues. End signals could be: two beats on the drum, or simply the words “freeze” or “stop” to signal students to end.
  • Display a timer or clock: A timer or clock helps to structure an activity. Use a large clock or timer that kids can see at all times to know when the class or activity will finish.
  • Set clear rules: The structure and rules of the dance class should be covered in the first class. It can help to use pictures as well as words to explain the rules. Keep a short list of the rules in a place that is clearly visible to the children. Review the rules and consequences regularly if there are concerns about a child’s behaviour. You could ask parents to go over these at home with their child to help them remember.

Consider how you communicate

  • Engage the child’s attention before giving instructions: Call the child’s name before giving instructions. Making eye contact with the child, or giving a gentle physical prompt (e.g. softly tapping their arm or hand) can help to make sure the child is listening and paying attention.
  • Model the behaviour you want to see in class: Model calm behaviour when students are overstimulated; allow silence and time for a child to respond; have patience for confusion and chaos when children become overwhelmed.
  • Simplify and repeat instructions:  Some kids might need instructions to be made simpler and dance movements repeated multiple times. You may need to limit the amount of information given, so that only one step is explained at a time.
  • Check in with the child to see if they have understood:You can do this in a supportive way by asking them to tell you in their own words what they have to do for a particular task or activity.
  • Reduce background noise when giving instructions: Minimising background noise and distractions while giving instructions can help all kids hear and focus on the teacher.
  • Select appropriate music: Allowing students to choose music for certain parts of the class (i.e., warm-up) can help encourage participation

Consider the activities

  • Shorten movement tasks and dance exercises: Short and specific movement tasks work better than long ones. Some kids might not be able to focus for a long time on one activity. Structure the class in short, interesting, and contrasting experiences. Movement games could be alternated between dance exercises.
  • Use small groups or buddies: Some kids might find it easier to work in smaller groups or to work one-on-one with a buddy. This will help in making it easier for them to focus.
  • Have short activity breaks: Allow kids to ‘let off steam’ and ‘drop focus’. They may want to do their own stretches or moves in between dance exercises.

Related Videos

Related Stories