5 tips to help kids with ADHD focus on reading

By Gail Belsky

ADHD isn’t a problem with reading, and kids with ADHD learn to read in the same way other kids do. But the focus difficulties that come with ADHD can create challenges. Trouble with attention may cause some kids to take longer to learn to read. It can also make it harder for kids to get through reading tasks. 

ADHD is a lifelong condition, and difficulties with attention don’t go away. But there are strategies that can help kids focus when they read. Here are five quick tips to try out.

1. Reduce distractions.

Kids with ADHD are easily distracted by noise and activity around them. Try to find a quiet place and time for them to read at home. In the classroom, seat them away from windows or the door, to prevent them from hearing as many outside noises.

2. Set a timer.

Kids with ADHD often struggle with time management as well as attention. Letting them see how long they need to read can reduce stress and make it easier for them to stay focused.

3. Provide breaks.

Stopping reading for a few minutes to move around or do deep breathing may seem like a bad idea for kids with focus challenges. But “brain breaks” can help some kids with ADHD refocus and get back into the task of reading.

Download these brain break ideas for teachers. (Parents can try them at home, too.)

Brain Breaks BankPDF

4. Engage multiple senses.

Kids with ADHD may be more focused when they use different senses to learn reading skills. There are many ways to do this. For example, they might clap out syllables as they say them. 

5. Be flexible.

Some kids with ADHD actually have an easier time focusing when music is on. Others may need to stand or walk around while they read, or while you read to them. Give them room to do it the way that works best for them.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Gail Belsky is executive editor at Understood. She has written and edited for major media outlets, specializing in parenting, health, and career content.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Kristin J. Carothers, PhD is a clinical child psychologist devoted to the destigmatization of mental health problems.