With a 42% increase in reported cases of ADHD since 2003, no doubt you have dealt with this challenging issue in your classroom. It is estimated that 11% of children between the ages of 4-17 years old have been diagnosed with ADHD. This translates as follows: If you have 28 students, at least 3 will exhibit serious problems with concentration and following directions, become easily bored or frustrated, exhibit impulsivity, constantly be on-the-move, lack time management and organizational skills and have social problems. Not only are these children disruptive to themselves and the teacher but they can also negatively influence other students.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to be well-versed in tools which will not only help the ADHD child but can also improve the general classroom atmosphere. The following are some tried and true tips:
- Teach more difficult subjects early in the day.
- Seat the child away from distractions, such as doors, windows, noisy radiators, etc., preferably facing the teacher as opposed to facing other students.
- Have clear classroom rules which are posted on walls and reviewed regularly.
- Use an auditory signal to indicate the start of a lesson such as an egg timer, bell or horn.
- Employ a variety of teaching methods such as visual aides, computers and hands-on experiences.
- Give an outline of the lesson with space for note-taking and point out which step of the lesson you are on.
- Allow students to tape-record assignments. Spoken instructions are often not remembered.
- For reading assignments, show how to use a pointer or bookmark in order to keep the place.
- Summarize the lesson at the end and have a few students repeat what they learned and/or any assignments given.
- It is preferable to give regular short quizzes rather than long tests. In addition, try to provide a private area for test taking without noise and distractions.
- Divide long-term assignments into doable short term tasks.
- Set up a system with parents for keeping the child organized, such as the use of color-coded folders or individual notebooks. In addition, provide a “ready to go home” checklist for the student and a set aside a few extra minutes at the end of the day to make sure that everything is in order.
- If the child seems particularly antsy, give him a quiet squeeze ball to play with at his desk or occasionally send him on an errand outside of the classroom.
- Be generous with positive reinforcements. In addition, rewards should be in the form of small prizes and special privileges and not food treats. A study done in the Netherlands found that, “Food is the main cause of ADHD. 64% of children with ADHD had symptoms which were a reaction to food.”
- Do your best to maintain a positive atmosphere.
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Over the years, I personally found that my ADHD students were often particularly creative and bright. Given the right tools and reinforcements, no doubt we will see all of our students reach their full potential.
Please share what you have successfully incorporated to help ADHD students or your experiences with these children in your classroom.