A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says preschool activities may be helping children and teens with ADHD.
The report, published Monday, found preschool activity helps kids with ADHD learn skills they may need to function more independently and academically.
The authors of the study analyzed data from a national survey of 2,000 children and 1,000 teens ages 3 to 12.
Researchers say the study’s results are in line with the findings of other studies, which found that children and teenagers who spent time in preschool are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD later in life.
“These findings suggest that preschool activities can improve academic outcomes and improve cognitive functioning,” said study lead author Julie R. Cramer, PhD, a professor in the department of psychology at the University of Florida.
“But preschool activities need to be tailored for specific children and their learning needs.”
The study found children who spent at least an hour per day in preschool had a significantly higher rate of achieving a high school-level GPA.
Those who spent more than an hour in preschool also had significantly higher scores on standardized tests of reading and math skills, and a higher reading score on a test measuring general learning.
The study also found preschool activities like playing with other kids, playing sports, or reading magazines helped students with ADHD and other mental health problems.
Kids who spent the most time in the preschool setting also scored higher on standardized testing tests of executive functioning, social communication, and emotional intelligence.
“Our findings suggest these preschool activities provide a healthy alternative to a school day,” said Cramer.
“These activities should be integrated into a child’s school day, and the benefits of these activities should not be lost on students who are still learning and are still struggling to do well in school.”
The CDC recommends preschool activities for kids ages 3 and up, as well as children ages 6 to 12, and adults ages 21 and over.
The CDC says most kids ages 4 to 5 and 6 to 8 will be eligible for preschool programs in the coming years.
The CDC’s report notes that more than 20 percent of kids who are diagnosed with ADD or other mental disorders are under 6 years old, and about 2 in 3 have been diagnosed with an ADHD diagnosis by age 5.