One of the reasons I was so successful as a kindergarten teacher is I, myself have ADD. As a child, I was never diagnosed (did anyone get this diagnosis in the 80’s? When did it even become something talked about and diagnosed? I don’t really remember other kids being as distracted as myself, but then again I was distracted… Ahh, but my ADD takes me on another path…), but finally, as an adult, I was given the diagnosis and was able to build a toolkit of strategies to help me survive in the workplace and life.
Naturally, working with five-year-olds was a perfect fit for me. My attention span maxes out at about fifteen minutes so I can relate to those whose taps out even sooner. My body can only sit still for about as long. Whether my knee is tapping or my hands are fidgeting with part of my clothing, a book, or whatever is in grasp, I realize many children have the same issues today and they’re not going away. Medication is surely one way of calming the beast within (yes, for many it feels like a creature inside is trying to break free), but there are also other ways I’ve learned to deal with the racing, pacing, and spacing.
Many people are surprised to see the stack of books on my coffee table. No, I’m not trying to impress anyone, I am actually reading ALL those books at once. For me, having choices and options helps me stay focused… and by focused I mean reading. I can read a chapter in one book and then swap it out for a different title or genre. Right now my ‘stack’ consists of two picture books, three professional books, a graphic novel, two middle-grade books, and one adult book. Yes, if you’re adding, that would be nine books. That doesn’t include the three magazines I also read weekly. How am I reading nine books at once?
I’m constantly switching. It could be by chapter, or even just once I’m ready for a shift. Picture books and magazines offer quick short breaks and writing and playing with my dog offer other opportunities to stop and move. Every once in awhile (it doesn’t happen often) a book so hooks me I stick with it without shifting. The last book I couldn’t put down was Lauren Wolf’s brilliant Wolf Hollow. Not only could I not stop reading it (I finished it in two days), but I also can’t stop telling everyone I know about it. But I digress… as usual.
The previous book that hooked like a sucker fish was The War that Saved My Life and that was last summer. Usually, once or twice a year it happens. I’ve learned strategies for dealing with multiple plates spinning at once. Oh, and while I’m reading, music is almost always playing. Many people love reading outside, but for me, it’s another way to give myself a break. Stop and look at the trees, look at the grass, look for animals in the woods behind my house, look a squirrel!
When the movie Up came out a few years ago, friends razzed me about the similarities between the dog, Dug and myself. Yes, shiny objects and small rodents will pull me right out of a book, but I’ve learned to not only accept it but also how to help myself get back to reading.