Photo giving bird's eye view of seven children sitting in a circleOne of the most remarkable findings to come out of the ADHD field in recent years has been the discovery that nature has a remarkably calming effect on kids diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. One study revealed that a simple walk in the park elevated the attention span of kids identified as having ADHD.  Another study suggested that children diagnosed with ADHD have milder symptoms if they play in green settings than if they play in built-up indoors or outdoor settings.  A further study indicated that children who take a nature walk experience ”restorative” properties in their executive functioning, a key set of processes that are key in ameliorating the symptoms of ADHD.  Given the restorative impact of natural settings on symptoms related to ADHD, here are seven ways to integrate time in nature with school time for all kids, and in particular, for kids diagnosed with ADHD:

  1. Take 15-20 minute ”study hikes” outdoors as a class, where you read from the textbook, lecture on a key topic,or review the homework assignment for the following day.
  2. Schedule a class session outdoors on the lawn or under the trees, and use the time to answer questions students have about the subject matter being studied.
  3. Use a green outdoor space near the school as a setting for doing a role play on a book being studied or playing a game involving academic skills (e.g. Vocabulary Tag – where one student chases the rest of the class with a vocabulary word and the person caught has to give the definition).
  4. Plan a week-end outdoor camping trip for the class where students engage in activities designed to bolster social and emotional skills.
  5. Precede test taking time with an outdoor group jog.
  6. Allow students to take their writing materials (with a board to write on) outdoors for a creative writing assignment that involves nature.
  7. Study science topics by going outside as a class to gather data (e.g. information about birds, trees, plants, the clouds, wind, weather, insects etc.).

These are just a few ways to turn ”nature time” into ”learning time” for students.  You might be surprised to find that your ADHD-identified kids, once they have a chance to get out in the sun, become your ”star” students!

For more tips and strategies to help students diagnosed with ADHD, see my book The Myth of the ADHD Child, Revised Edition: 101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span Without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion (Tarcher/Perigee).

This article was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and

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I’m the author of 20 books including my latest, a novel called Childless, which you can order from Amazon.

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