When people think of ADHD, one of the first images that come to mind is the classroom. This is because those of us familiar with the condition know how much of a struggle it can be to maintain focus, especially as a child.
As an increasing number of schools and society as a whole have come a long way in providing an inclusive learning environment, there are still so many examples of children getting bored at school. The problem with boredom is that it’s usually the main catalyst for disruption; which more often than not, has a knock-on effect on the education of the rest of the class. There are so many simple ways to alleviate this boredom, which can actually improve the listening skills of children.
One such method is the integration of puzzle games into the classroom routine. In this blog post, I will explain why allowing school children with ADHD to complete puzzle games can be a beneficial strategy to enhance their attention and listening skills.
First of all, puzzles like Sudoku, Wordle or Dot to Dot, require a low to medium level of stimulation. By incorporating these activities into the classroom, we provide children with ADHD a means to engage their minds actively. The mental stimulation offered by such games helps shift the mind from a state of boredom to one of productive and focused thinking. As a result, the child’s ability to listen and process information in the classroom improves.
Many teachers like to spend significant periods of a lesson talking or lecturing to a class. For good or for bad, teachers will always need to explain information for several minutes at a time. The result being that this is an optimal time for students with ADHD to zone out. This is where puzzles serve as a valuable intervention. Children with ADHD possess the capacity for ‘dual attention’. This allows them to allocate cognitive resources to multiple tasks simultaneously. While listening to someone talk, ADHDers can often engage in activities that require moderate cognitive demand, without compromising their ability to process auditory information.
This is because puzzles and listening to someone are distinct tasks that engage different cognitive processes.
Solving puzzles involves visual-spatial reasoning, pattern recognition, and problem-solving skills, while listening requires auditory processing, comprehension, and information retention. Since these tasks utilise different cognitive systems, they can often be performed simultaneously without overwhelming a child’s cognitive load. The same reasoning explains why so many children are able to interact with friends while playing video games.
Furthermore, many of these puzzles, particularly those that individuals have experience with, can become more automatic and require less conscious effort over time. As children become more proficient in puzzle-solving, the cognitive demands decrease, allowing them to allocate more attention to listening.
The integration of puzzle games for children with ADHD holds immense potential for improving focus and reducing disruption in the classroom. When considering this as an intervention, it’s important to bear in mind that the degree of cognitive flexibility will vary from child to child. However, when applied appropriately, it has the potential to address many of the day-to-day challenges faced by ADHDers in the classroom.