Teachers of ADHD students have challenges that other teachers do not; the following article includes strategies you can use to help ADHD in the classroom, and will help students have a more enriching classroom experience.
If you are a teacher with students that have ADHD, you know that these students can be disruptive and difficult to reach. Use the following strategies to make your classroom a better place for all students.
ADHD in the classroom: Students need rules and routines
1. Provide supervision for ADHD Students
Children who suffer from ADHD often need more supervision than other students of their age. This may be caused by a tendency to forget, being easily distracted, being disorganized and having delayed maturity. Help your students with ADHD by teaming them up with other students who will help to remind them about classwork deadlines and homework assignments.
You can also use the team method whenever there’s a special classroom project. If you have access to adult classroom assistants, be sure to stress the need for increased supervision for ADHD students.
2. ADHD students need classroom rules
Rules help ADHD students understand what is expected of them and help them to avoid accidental disciplinary infractions. Post rules in a visible location in the classroom where students can review them every day. Be sure to phrase them in a positive—rather than negative—voice.
For example, instead of starting each rule with no or don’t, start each rule with the expectation, i.e., Check the assignment board each morning and begin reading quietly to yourself.
3. Implement routines
Routines help ADHD students feel safer and stay task-oriented. Have students with ADHD check the assignment board each day as they leave as part of the end-of-day routine. This will ensure they are clear about their homework assignments.
You can also assign certain students the task of collecting homework in the morning from all the students in their row. Alternate who gets to be in charge of the row each day so each student has an opportunity to practice leadership skills.
4. Accommodate students with ADHD in the Classroom
Certain students with ADHD may need special accommodations in the school or classroom. As their teacher, you can do students with ADHD a great service by ensuring that they get the accommodation they need. This may be as simple as taking extra time to monitor that particular student’s work during the class day. It may also mean developing a special study plan so the student doesn’t fall behind their peers.
You could also consider giving your ADHD students extra slack by accepting an occasional late homework assignment. This may go a long way toward helping the students know that you are on their side and giving them the confidence to keep trying.
Other ideas for extra accommodation for ADHD students include things like:
- Giving them extra time to take tests
- Giving them abbreviated assignments
- Tutoring them on how to take notes
- Allowing them to record classroom lessons
- Breaking long-term projects into more manageable assignments
The Attention Deficit Disorder Association has more recommendations for accommodations or estimates can make for ADHD students in the classroom:
Establish peace and order
Students with ADHD should be seated near the front of the classroom in order to reduce potential distractions and to help them focus on lessons. The more barriers that are in the way between the student and the teacher, the more distractions have the potential to disrupt the learning environment.
5. Setup breaks and grant movement
It’s important to be understanding about the need for movement with ADHD students. These students may need to fidget more than others in order to increase their focus. Students with ADHD will have a harder time sitting still for long periods of time than other students. Allow plenty of time for breaks to get up and clean the blackboard, go to the bathroom or get a drink of water.
6. Develop routine changeovers
ADHD students do best when they know what’s coming up next. Whenever possible, let students know what is coming, such as recess, a different lesson, a new book, or other activities. This is especially useful near the end of the day when an ADHD student may have to take longer to gather their homework assignment paperwork.
7. Allow play
Recess is an important part of the day for all students, but especially ADHD students. Recess is an opportunity for students to relieve stress and to enhance focus once they do return to the classroom. Don’t take up a student’s recess by making them stay in the classroom and complete school work or as punishment.
8. Positive role modeling
Whenever possible, have students with ADHD sit near students who can serve as positive role models. Positive role models are less likely to distract the ADHD student with disruptive behavior and/or talking during lessons.
Create positive relationships
Establish a good rapport with students when they come into the classroom in the morning, greet each student by name. Be sure to call on your ADHD students in class. Post a bulletin board in the classroom where students can display their academic achievements and extracurricular interests.
Have a day where each student can take five minutes to talk about their hobbies, pets or other things of interest to them.
9. Get to know the parents
It’s very important for teachers to be involved with the parents of ADHD students. The more you can work together with the parents, the better able everyone will be to ensure that the ADHD student is thriving in school.
Following are some tips to share with the parents:
- Stay in communication with teachers about problems at home
- Ensure that the student’s medication is working effectively and is taken at the proper time
- Assist the student with homework and organization
- Help the student prepare for each school day
- Oversee the student’s homework preparation
- Make sure the student completes all assignments, especially in challenging classes
- Save all homework until the class is over
- Use a daily or weekly reporting method to stay in touch the teacher
10. Inquiry over rebuke
If one of your ADHD students does something wrong in class, get them involved in figuring out whether or not it was the right thing to do. This will help them to make better decisions in the future instead of feeling bad about themselves for misbehaving.
11. Bring to light positive behavior
Students who have ADHD are very responsive to the frequent and positive feedback that comes immediately after doing a good job. Use positive phrases that emphasize their achievement.
Use approaches that work with students with ADHD
Use approaches that work with students who have ADHD, rather than forcing students to behave like students who do not have ADHD.
12. Provide lesson materials that fit education level
Avoid assigning work that will prove to be too challenging for students with ADHD. This includes classwork. Anything that is too challenging or takes a long time may be beyond the ability of an ADHD student.
13. Provide choices
Studies have shown that students who have ADHD are more willing to do activities when they have been given a choice. Offer choices in the classroom such as a choice of homework worksheets or reading material.
14. Use visual cues
Students who have ADHD typically pay attention to visual reminders. This is why it makes sense to write homework assignments on the chalkboard and to leave them there all during class.
15. Allow students to work in groups
Implement group strategies like forming teams to work on projects, having students vote on certain issues and allowing students to vocalize their opinions about the lesson even when isn’t Q&A time.
16. Implement project based learning
Use project-based teaching strategies to create opportunities where students can learn by doing. For example, have students make dioramas or put together science models.
Teaching to ADHD students is certainly a challenge for the teacher. However, when you take the steps to create a classroom environment that supports ADHD and learning challenges, the rewards will be great.
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