Back to school season is upon us and people all around the country are heading to stores to buy countless supplies. Pencils, calculators, notebooks, markers, crayons… all are practical purchases for a student. I want to argue in favor of something that while not practical might be a smart purchase for parents who are constantly battling their children to stop the video game and get back to work… a video game.

The battle between video games and homework can often be a struggle between parents and students (or gamer and themselves). Why have the battle? As a gamer who had this struggle growing up and a gamer that also has ADHD, I understand this. Now I am not only a gamer but I am also a professional teacher, who sees kids not finish homework because of video games everyday. Here is my advice.. let them play the games…. and do the homework… how is this accomplished? Five Words.

Games with natural stopping points.

The problem with many gamers (especially those with ADD/ADHD) is that their minds can’t let the game go. When a child with ADD starts a game, unless they reach a point where their active brain can set aside that game, they won’t be able to focus on anything. Many video games out there don’t have a natural ending, and so even when a level is completed it is not as simple as just setting down the game and moving on to something else. The child’s brain keeps the game going and their focus will not be on the task in front of them but on the story mode they need to beat.

To help alleviate the child’s NEED (in many cases a kid with ADD does NEED something to help their mind settle, so yes I mean NEED) to play video games and the desire for you to help them be successful, a compromise is what I suggest. Let them play a game, but only specific ones, ones that have a very definitive natural ending that will help satisfy the ADD and focus on something else.  My favorite games that can help in this situation are SPORTS GAMES.

Your typical sports game has a mode where you just play your standard game, One Team Vs Another Team, and in most cases these games last no more than 45 minuets long. They come to a natural end at 45 minutes. Madden 16, FIFA 16, NBA2k16, all these games can be played and stopped in under an hour. Let your child play one game of Madden, they will reach the end of the 4th quarter and it will be a natural end following the end of the game, have them do the work you want. If your child doesn’t like the traditional sports games, they can play games like Mario Kart, one circuit (4 races for a trophy) usually lasts 30-45 minutes. Let them do a circuit and then have them stop. Wii sports also is not your traditional sports game but its easier to stop because there isn’t really a story or goal to accomplish.

So why have the battle at all. Pick up a sports game as part of your back to school shopping and instead of battling your gamer, surprise them. let them play one game of soccer on FIFA 16 and then they will have a natural stopping point so it will be easier to have them put down the controller and get to work on the education. They will love you more and they will be more likely to get their homework done.  And remember the more they love you, the nicer your retirement home will be.

If you have any suggestions on other games that have natural stopping points or have a question about gaming with ADHD feel free to leave a comment below!