We’ve already looked at some of the key reasons why parents would want to consider enrolling their child who has ADHD in a martial arts class. The individualized nature of martial arts as well as its variety and opportunity for progressing at one’s own pace are all ideal features for students with ADHD. But a word of caution is in order. If parents want to increase the chances of their child with ADHD enjoying and continuing in martial arts classes, they should do their homework to find an instructor who is both experienced with ADHD students and sympathetic toward the challenges they face.
If you’re a martial arts instructor with a desire to help these special students, it’s vital for you to educate yourself about ADHD. Here are a few tips which Senseis can follow if they want to effectively teach kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD.
Keep their Short Attention Spans in Mind
One of the biggest roadblocks which ADHD students face is their naturally short attention span. If you’re a martial arts instructor working with a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, you need to realize that the child isn’t just acting up and being fidgety in order to be rebellious. It is genuinely much, much harder for them to keep still and focus than the average child. That’s why, when working with ADHD students, you need to keep the pace of the class moving. This is one class where you shouldn’t go on and on telling stories about the glory days of your past martial arts achievements while expecting the students to stay in their stances with rapt attention. Instead, you should quickly move from one technique to the next. Keep your demonstrations and instructions short, sweet, and to the point as well.
Give Each Child a Specific Role in the Class
Allowing each student in the class to have their own responsibility can help them to feel a sense of ownership and take pride in accomplishing their specific task. You can ask one student to turn on the lights. Ask another to lead the class in some of their warmups. Choose someone else to help get out sparring equipment. Pick another child to put it away at the end of class. You may be surprised at how big of a deal it is for a child with ADHD to be asked to be Sensei’s helper, even for a seemingly small or insignificant job.
It’s important for any martial arts instructor who is privileged to work with kids who have ADHD to realize how significant their long-term impact may be on the child, either for good or bad. Every authority figure in the child’s life can become either one more adult who doesn’t seem to understand them or desire to see them succeed in life, or someone who seems to really care about them and wants to help them be the best they can be. Kids are smarter than adults often give them credit for when it comes to reading our emotional cues. As a Sensei with the honor of teaching these unique kids, do your best to go above and beyond the call of duty in figuring out how their minds work and what you can do to help them succeed.
Continue reading with Part 3.