Extracurricular activities are crucial for kids with ADHD. When school is a challenge, extracurriculars offer another chance to feel ‘good at something’ as well as an important avenue to direct their energy. But finding the right activity can be a little tricky, so remember to be flexible. Students with ADHD might have to try a number of different activities before they find the right fit. Here are some guidelines:
Exercise can be key in helping students learn to manage their ADHD. Regular exercise helps control ADHD symptoms by reducing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. However, not every sport is as good as the next when it comes to kids with ADHD. Some kids with ADHD will enjoy being part of a team, while others need to be able to go their own way with individual sports like tennis, swimming, archery, track, gymnastics, or horseback riding. Look for sports that provide concrete structure and guidance as well as opportunities to practice self-regulation. Various forms of martial arts and yoga have been shown to be beneficial for students with ADHD.
Activities that involve performance — such as theater, music, dance, debate club, and mock trial — can be amazing outlets for students with ADHD. The structure of rehearsals is beneficial. With practice, students with ADHD can often memorize and master material that may have been more difficult in school. Performance, especially acting, requires students to engage their emotional intelligence and understand multiple perspectives, which is helpful for building emotional regulation. (Check out Theater Games You Can Use to Promote Cognitive Flexibility). The camaraderie between students working together to put on a production can be invaluable as well. Working in a group to prepare for the performance will help students with ADHD leverage their unique strengths and challenges; their unique perspective will be a beneficial asset to the group and they will be able to focus on activities that do not focus on their weaknesses.
Visual arts like drawing, painting, and sculpting as well as other crafts like woodworking, metal work, model making, and sewing offer the hands-on engagement that many students with ADHD love. The tactile nature of these activities can help harness students’ focus by engaging all of their senses. Also, these activities produce a physical result that can be a terrific reward for completing goals.
What other activities do you think work for students with ADHD? Let us know in the comments!
- Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager