Tips for managing ADHD in the classroom
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s far from a rarity. In fact, chances are you might know someone suffering mild to serious ADHD issues in your class right now.
Your first job is to make sure your ADHD students don’t feel alone either. We can help you with that.
Or if you’re a teacher yet to come across a student with ADHD, we can prepare you so you’re ready to deal with it. So, first things first...
How can kids with ADHD be demanding?
Well, demanding might be the wrong word as they mean no harm, but they end up appearing to be demanding because the very nature of their condition demands unusual behaviour from them.
They might simply start talking while someone else is talking. They might get up and walk around the classroom while everyone else is spellbound by a teacher’s words.
Why? Kids with ADHD can’t help it, they just lose interest and focus on something else.
An ADHD child may have problems following what seem to be straightforward instructions, especially if said instructions are presented to them in a listed, step-by-step form. For the same reason, they may struggle with long division and equations.
Students with ADHD can have handwriting problems due to a lack of fine motor control; homework issues simply because they forget; and big problems trying to complete longer-term class projects due to the aforementioned issues.
We are talking attention deficit after all and it can drive you and the rest of the class to distraction if you let it. So let’s bring your attention to some tried and true ways to minimise classroom disruption and maximise every ADHD child’s chances of success.
No, not world capitals or highest mountains; best classroom placement for your ADHD students. Doors and windows are major distractions with comings and goings, birds, sun, rain, wind, kids, cars and whatever else catches the corner of an easily caught eye. So try to sit your ADHD kids in an area of the room where the outside world is least likely to draw their attention.
If you think you can help your ADHD student focus better by keeping them nearby, seat them right in front of your desk.
Finally, seating all your students around tables so they can interact will work fine if all your students can focus on what matters. Not so with ADHD students. Rows of seats and faces aimed directly at you are the best options.
Or, more specifically, communication and delivery of class lessons. And this is where it gets tricky because if you’ve got one kid who just doesn’t get it as fast as everyone else, it can slow the whole year for the entire class.
Your best bet is to realise one thing from the start: your ADHD student needs extra TLC to keep up and that means enlisting the assistance of a Teacher Aide if you haven’t already got one.
A Teacher Aide can work directly with any problems your ADHD student has and supplement study aids – visuals, charts, colour codes and pictures.
You need to know as much as you can about your ADHD students before you attempt to give them the education they need. That means talking to parents and gleaning as much information about their individual character traits as you can.
What are the warning signs you need to look for that tell you they’re not listening or about to have an irrational or disruptive moment? What are the usual triggers? As parents, what have they found to be the best ways to get their child happy, focussed and back on track again?
Whether you’re reading this as a teacher or someone wanting to contribute to a better education system, it is difficult for one teacher to deal with a class if that class has ADHD students, a scenario where a Teacher Aide can be very beneficial.