Q: How can I help my hyperactive child sit still long enough to finish a writing assignment?

Breaking assignments into chunks

The first thing you can do is break the assignment up into sections to be completed over the course of a few days. You can begin with a free writing exercise. If your child doesn’t want to write, he can dictate, and you can take notes. Next, have your student view the free write/notes and organize an outline for the assignment. If the assignment is a paragraph, they can work on it the next day, using the outline as a guide. Then they can proofread and edit the following day. If it is a five paragraph essay, they could complete the introduction on one day, the body on the next day (or over three days), and the closing on the third/final day. On the final day, they can proofread and polish. You should also know that all Time4Writing courses are automatically split up into manageable segments.

Using technology

Graphic organizers and creative use of technology can also be used for scaffolding an assignment into parts. A child may not be able to sit still because he isn’t sure how to begin. A graphic organizer and some creativity can be helpful here; they can generate ideas and create the confidence needed to focus. Create a debate where you use each other to springboard ideas to be used in the assignment. Have your student brainstorm by viewing and then preparing a TED talk or creating a wiki on the assignment topic. You can ask other family members to engage with the wiki to help build upon and generate ideas. Have your student do some research first in a web quest before designing the wiki. Creative ideas for engaging your student with the topic/assignment are endless.

Another idea would be to use speech-to-text software so that your student could dictate most of his assignment into another program first. With a wireless headset, he/she could do this while skipping rope, jumping on a trampoline, or playing catch. Alternatively, you could allow your student to walk around as he/she types his assignment on a mobile device. Allow five minutes of educational game play for every 15-20 minutes of productivity (focusing, planning, writing). You could even design actual game-time tickets to be distributed and returned for use.

One of the key advantages of a program like Time4Writing is it’s multimedia aspect. Students soon forget to fidget when they are interacting within Time4Writing’s virtual campus. A combination of video lessons, printable worksheets, online quizzes, and interactive games keep students engaged and excited about writing.

Tips for artistic kids and teens

For your more energy-filled, artsy student, have them design a graffiti wall to brainstorm and show what they know about the topic. They could also make a comic strip to illustrate their ideas (for a narrative assignment). Online platforms exist that let students make these on the computer in lieu of pen/paper. These are fun ways to extend learning and make it even more meaningful. After such activities, the “writing assignment” will be a lot easier and function as more of a summary assignment.

One course that almost any creative elementary grade student would enjoy is Time4Writing’s Informative Writing course. In this 8-week study, young writers get an opportunity to not only use graphic organizers to track their research on a wild animal, but create a multimedia slideshow to bring their info to life!