My six year old wrote in her journal. My five year old worked with the 100’s chart board. And my 4 year old twins ran around unable to focus on any activity for more than a minute or two.
They grabbed number tiles from their brother causing him to chase them.
The general chaos of running and screeching caused my six year old to lose focus on her work.
My four year olds could not focus on any of the activities I prepared for our homeschool. Hands on, playful learning activities perfect for a four year old.
No, they weren’t expected to work all day. They worked less than one hour a day after they played most of the day.
They weren’t bored. They looked forward to our learning time each day yet after a minute or two of starting an activity, they ran off distracted. It took them a lot of effort to get back on task.
Most four year olds can pay attention to an interesting activity for more than a couple minutes.
My twins have ADHD. Focusing on one activity at a time is hard especially when unmedicated.
Yes, four year olds need freedom to move and play, but teaching them to be mindful of focusing on one developmentally appropriate activity for a short duration of time is a good skill to foster in young children.
It is difficult to teach a child with ADHD to stay focused on one task.
But it’s not impossible.
They succeeded at working at our kitchen table. They sat in booster like high chairs pulled up to the table. No, I didn’t strap my four year olds in a high chair, but the containment of the chair seemed to provide a sense of boundary that kept them at the table.
They ate meals, listened to read alouds, and created art projects able to remain focused and stay at the table.
I needed to teach them to stay focused in other settings besides our kitchen table.
My children attended Godly Play, a Montessori inspired program, for Sunday school. Each child uses a small floor mat to listen to the lessons and complete individual activities.
These floor mats provided concrete parameters the kids needed to stay in one spot.
The boundaries provided by the booster chairs helped my twins, and I wondered if I could use mats to help them stay in one spot to do their school work.
We had a small table and chairs in our learning space, and that didn’t work well to keep them focused. They preferred working on the floor, but they couldn’t stay in one spot without a clear area to work on the floor.
They liked the comfort of lying on their bellies to do their work.
I bought four small area rugs and placed them around our learning area.Unlike a traditional Montessori environment, I set up the rugs ahead of time rather than the child setting up the rug herself.
Children with ADHD have difficulty with more than one step directions.
First, setting up the rug. Then getting out the materials is a two step process for the children to start work.
My goal was to increase their time on task. Adding another step complicated the process of starting work.
I explained when they chose one activity they needed to take all the supplies to one mat. They needed to stay on task on the mat for at least five minutes. Once finished, they returned the activity to the shelves, chose another activity, and took it back to a mat.
We use trays, clipboards, and wooden boards for activities that require a hard surface at our floor mats.
As they practiced this skill of staying in one spot to work, I no longer needed to time them to stay five minutes on the rug. They naturally improved their time on task.
You don’t need to homeschool to benefit from the use of small area rugs.
Your children can complete their homework on a mat. After sitting all day in school, lying on mat to do homework will be a welcome change.
There may be times when you want your child to play independently, and setting up a small rug for a play space will help keep your child focused on play. This works especially well in small homes where each child does not have his own room for quiet playtime.
Small rugs work well for yoga. No need to purchase a special yoga mat as carpeted floor mats aren’t too slippery for yoga if you don’t wear socks.
Once we started using floor mats for school work, the twins stayed more focused on their tasks.
Instead of stealing number tiles from their brother or disturbing their sister’s journal writing, they worked on their own math and literacy skills building the foundation they needed for future school success.