Walk, Run or Jump to Your Nearest Study Break

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physical activity and adhdTo an ADHD-inattentive child, homework seems endless. It starts after school, stops for a dinner break and can sometimes go until bedtime. In hindsight, it’s fairly easy to say the whole time wasn’t productive, but at the time, the whole family can be caught up in the “crisis du jour.”

Maybe it’s like this at your house. You hear “AHHHHH. One English lit test, a history essay and 35 math problems.” That’s your first clue that it’s going to be a long night.

“Okay, ask me these questions. I think I’m ready….” would be Lesley’s usual request, but often we both realized after the first three questions that she wasn’t ready.

Breaking up your child’s routine with physical activity can be a great way to jump start his focus. Our “go to” activities when the weather wasn’t particularly inviting outside were a jump rope and a hula hoop. How many times can you jump rope in a row? How long can you keep a hula hoop going? Any focus away from whatever she was working on lightened the tension.

On sunny days, jumping on a pogo stick on the back porch released endorphins. A bike ride or a run around the neighborhood could get blood pumping and send a burst of oxygen to the brain.

Okay, there was that one time when Lesley rode off into the sunset on her bike, and we had to send her older sister and brother looking for her, but mostly, study breaks worked.

School teachers have found that old fashioned recess offers a needed break in routine and helps improve children’s attention, concentration and the ability to stay on task.

As quoted in a recent article in USA Today, Howell Wechsler, director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health for the Centers for Disease control and Prevention:

“Some short-sighted people thought that cutting back on time spent on physical education to spend more time drilling for tests would improve test scores. But in fact there are a lot of studies that show that more time for PE and other physical activity help improve academic performance.”*

Research has shown that even short breaks of 5 to 20 minutes in the classroom can help a child’s attention span and improve test scores.

More and more research proves that physical activity helps an individual think better. And it doesn’t have to be interspersed between your child’s homework tasks to be beneficial.

Kathy Dean, a physical education teacher at Summit School in Arizona started an early bird running club for students from pre-K to eighth grade. According to Dean, “The research is saying more and more that starting off the day running or walking makes students better learners during the day.”

It’s really had to keep sitting at the computer and finish this article. The sun is….
(Kidding! What are your child’s favorite study break activities? What works at your house? We’d love to hear from you.)

*[1] Hellmich, Nancy. “Study: Physical activity can boost student performance,” USA Today, April 4, 2010.