Suspect Your Toddler Has ADHD? What Are The Most Therapeutic Daycare Options?

Although quiet toddlers who are happy to spend long periods of time playing alone are generally the exception to the rule, if your toddler is hyperactive and seems to have more trouble listening or following directions than his or her peers, you may be dealing with the early signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). While there are a number of educational programs, therapies, and medications designed to help your child tackle his or her more disruptive symptoms, this condition can be challenging for many daycare workers. What are the best pre-kindergarten care options for your child dealing with ADHD?

What type of guidance do ADHD children require to thrive? 

While clear, well-communicated structure and gentle teachings can benefit all children, those who have ADHD are especially receptive to these behaviors from parents and caregivers. By providing your ADHD child with structured activities throughout his or her day, setting small and easy-to-achieve goals, and clearly communicating transitions from one activity to the next, you can help minimize impulsive or hyperactive behaviors that may cause distress. 

For those who work full-time outside the home and require the services of a caregiver or child care center like Advantage Learning Center, it can be crucial for your child's mental well-being to find a program to help accommodate his or her specific challenges and quirks.

Which daycare or educational programs can help meet your child's needs?

  • Montessori 

This educational curriculum is appropriate for children of all ages and modeled after the teachings of Italian physicist and educator Maria Montessori. Through the Montessori method, children learn through play -- experimenting with textures, colors, and toy combinations to help interact with the world around them. Rather than being grouped by age, children are grouped by skill level, ensuring that children aren't shamed or bullied for having different skills than others in their age range. 

Although the Montessori method is a bit less rigorously scheduled than many educational programs, it can be ideal for children dealing with ADHD as it offers a variety of different activities and learning opportunities at any given time. This program also encourages physical activity and helps build self-esteem.

  • High/Scope

The High/Scope method is another preschool program that can specifically benefit children who have ADHD. This curriculum focuses on collaborative learning, social interaction, and specifically scheduled activities. A High/Scope teacher is likely to use tools like hourglasses, oven timers, and colored clocks to help children transition from activity to activity without meltdowns or tantrums, and he or she may use regular infusions of physical activity to help burn off excess energy. 

High/Scope can also benefit your child from a social perspective. Toddlers who have ADHD can often find it difficult to clearly express their thoughts, as their brains tend to race more quickly than their mouths. By asking open-ended questions and encouraging children to share their thought processes with the group, High/Scope teachers can help children work through their emotions and boost self-esteem and communication skills. 

  • Reggio Emilia

This program is named for the region of Italy from which it originates, and it bears many similarities to the Montessori method. Like Montessori, the Reggio Emilia approach is a child-centered form of education that helps children pursue their specific interests and gain autonomy and independence through sensory and self-directed learning.

Because this program emphasizes respect for others and a solid sense of self, it can help curb impulses in ADHD children that tend to be socially off-putting. For example, a child who tends to interrupt his or her peers in a traditional preschool or daycare setting may simply be disciplined or ignored. In a Reggio Emilia program, a teacher who observes this will help the interrupting child put him- or herself into the shoes of the child who was interrupted, helping foster empathy and encourage the child to think through the consequences of his or her actions.