Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that affects millions of kids in the U.S. It makes it difficult for children to focus or sit still because it causes levels of impulsivity and hyperactivity above the norm. Both children and adults can receive an ADHD diagnosis, and doctors sometimes prescribe medication to alleviate the symptoms.
However, something as simple as recess has proven to do wonders for kids with ADHD. This is because the break from academia, the chance to be physical and the opportunity to socialize all benefit kids with ADHD and even help them do better in the classroom.
5 Key Benefits of Recess for Children With ADHD
People have argued about the benefits of recess for years, with many believing it to be a waste of time that should otherwise be allotted to academia. Some states have even gone as far as to cancel recess altogether in favor of more emphasis on subjects like math and science. However, studies have shown the numerous ways in which children of all ages and abilities greatly benefit from recess, with the American Academy of Pediatrics stating that recess is as important as any classroom subject.
Playground activities for children with ADHD, in particular, have proven to benefit kids in their ability to concentrate in the classroom. Recess tips for ADHD students may not even need to be fine-tuned to apply specifically to them since many of the well-known benefits of recess are just as beneficial to children who live without ADHD.
Here are five of the main benefits recess provides for children with ADHD:
1. Prevents Isolation
Kids who live with ADHD likely already feel “othered” because they can’t be like their classmates. This can lead to kids feeling isolated and sometimes even bullied. Some educators opt to punish kids with ADHD — especially those with undiagnosed ADHD — by prohibiting them from their allotted recess time. The thinking is that taking away something children look forward to will motivate them to behave. This negative reinforcement ends up only making the child feel more left out and isolated.
Interacting with classmates without the stricter rules of the classroom is ideal for kids with ADHD, and recess is often the only time these kids have to freely play with their classmates and friends. It’s even more helpful if children with ADHD end up partaking in games that require teamwork. The structure of team games allows them to become more disciplined and focused — which translates into other parts of their lives, too.
2. Releases Energy
Regardless of whether a person has ADHD or not, breaks are always necessary. Sitting still for extended periods, forced to funnel all attention and energy into singular tasks without breaks for socializing or movement, can be detrimental to children’s cognitive development. One of the main playground benefits for ADHD students is that breaks like recess are an opportunity for them to use some of their pent-up energy.
Kids with ADHD tend to get restless and find it harder to focus for extended periods, so play therapy for ADHD is a great way to help them release that energy by being physical. In addition to that, being physically active in general — especially for kids who live with ADHD — has been proven to increase their cognitive abilities and brain performance.
3. Improves Classroom Performance
While physical activity proves to be a boon for cognitive abilities in children with ADHD, it can even reduce or lessen the symptoms of ADHD. Whether it’s group sports or individual play, the physical exercise helps kids learn how to focus better, without the stress of being in a classroom. For kids with ADHD, playground advice from professionals is almost exclusively to allow children the time to play freely physically.
Including scheduled breaks into the daily schedule has the additional benefit of helping kids with ADHD understand the time allotted for various activities and helps them better understand what’s to come. The same way you may treat yourself for a job well done, children with ADHD can focus better when they know they will also get time to let loose and relax. Knowing they’ll soon have a break encourages kids with ADHD to work harder in class.
4. Acts as Medication
Since the long-term effects of ADHD medication for children are still unclear — and not all children benefit from or can tolerate ADHD medication — professionals are coming up with alternate ways to ease ADHD symptoms both in the classroom and outside of it. And recess is one of the best ways to help alleviate symptoms of ADHD for schoolkids.
While medication can help control ADHD symptoms in children, a study found that simple exposure to greenery and nature can be just as beneficial. The study showed that playing outside can reduce symptoms of ADHD in children, making it a potential natural treatment. Plus, the study also found the effects of ADHD medication were augmented by outdoor play.
5. Builds Social Skills
As we mentioned, children with ADHD sometimes end up feeling left out or isolated, especially if they are deprived of their recess break. Another reason recess is beneficial for children with ADHD is the socializing aspect of it. Playing with other kids and learning how to negotiate, wait their turn and listen to instructions are just some of the skills kids with ADHD build during recess.
It also teaches them responsibility and how to share toys or playground equipment. Recess teaches kids differently than organized sports because it allows the children to structure themselves and it affords a specific sort of freedom for kids with ADHD because they can be themselves without fear of punishment, which would be the norm within the classroom.
Recess is also a great opportunity for kids to develop and build problem-solving skills and to understand rule formation as well as how to adhere to them.
Encourage Play With Playground Equipment From Playworld
At Playworld, we know the importance of play for children of all ages. We believe a good playground can boost imagination and empower children, allowing them to develop the crucial skills they need throughout life while simultaneously improving health and encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
Playtime is a basic human need as we see it, which is why we have designed equipment for children of all ages and all abilities, so every child can take advantage of the physical, emotional, social and cognitive benefits of outdoor play.
We are passionate about bringing out playground equipment to schools, recreation centers, parks and businesses across the country. Whether you’re looking to design your own playground from scratch or want to bring more play into your community, we at Playworld are here to guide you every step of the way.
Get started by requesting a quote today!