Remote Learning: Creating Transition Times for Students with ADHD

At this difficult time I know we’re all looking for ways to help students with learning differences, like ADHD, deal with the challenge of remote learning. Creating activities to help students transition between tasks is an important place to begin.

I was watching the latest video from one of our favorite ADHD resources, How to ADHD, about working from home with ADHD in the hopes that some of their tips might work for students who are learning from home. As always, How to ADHD didn’t disappoint.

I definitely recommend that you watch the whole video. However, I want to focus on the point made about the importance of building in transition time between tasks for people with ADHD.

It is difficult for people with ADHD to switch to quickly between tasks. This is because people with ADHD often have trouble with cognitive flexibility. (Here’s an activity to help students make the connection between cognitive flexibility and accomplishing goals.)

Transition time between activities helps students with ADHD let go of the previous activity and prepare to engage with whatever is coming next.

When students are learning at school, transition time is automatically built into their day. The commute from home to school helps students let go of things they would do at home and mentally prepare for school. Likewise, when students walk from class to the lunchroom, they have time to transition from their previous activity and get ready for lunch.

Learning from home means that most transition times have disappeared. Students are expected to shift from one subject to another instantaneously, or even to shift between being ‘at home’ to being ‘at school’ at a moment’s notice.

Parents and teachers can help by creating transition activities.

  • Create space between breakfast and the first class by asking your child to wash the breakfast dishes and set up their study station.
  • Separate science and math work by asking students to do five minutes of jumping jacks between each subject.

To structure transition activities, use a visible timer so students know exactly how long they have until the next task.

And remember to be consistent. Try to use the same ritual to transition between the same tasks at the same time each day. As students practice using the same transition activities, shifting between tasks will become easier and more routine.

Do you have transition activity ideas for students with ADHD who are learning from home? Let us know in the comments!

  • Elizabeth Ross, M.A., SMARTS Media Manager

This post is part of our Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning series.