Any parent familiar with ADHD knows the challenges kids can face during the school day. Routine events such as preparing classwork, reading aloud, or practicing math skills can be a mental overload for students with attention issues. Failing to understand the potential struggles of ADHD can lead to classroom chaos, as well as negative encounters among students, teachers, and parents.
Fortunately, there are strategies that can help students overcome classroom challenges.
As with just about everything in life, clear and honest communication is always the best first step. Parents of kids with ADHD should share their child’s history with teachers.
Tell them about your child’s interests, strengths, and challenges. If your child had success in another school, share the successful strategies with the new instructor.
Don’t withhold information. Take the lead.
The concept of open communication applies to your child as well. Ask them what they need. Find out what makes school easy or hard. Ask what motivates them in school. More often than not, a little honest talk can resolve future obstacles.
CLASSROOM CONCEPTS AND STRATEGIES
Here are a number of classroom strategies that can assist teachers and help ADHD students seize the day.
1. Provide an organized, predictable classroom environment and create classroom rules that are clear and well understood by the student.
2. Tape an index card of the class rules and daily schedule to the student’s desk. This method can help the student stay focused and on schedule. Review the index card with the student during the class day.
3. Seat students with ADHD near the teacher and away from any distractions. That means keep the student away from windows, doors, or the pencil sharpener!
4. Provide immediate feedback or consequences based on the student’s behavior. If the student is doing what is expected, provide immediate positive attention. Do your best to ignore minor negative behaviors.
5. Students with ADHD may have a lot of energy. It’s important to provide them with frequent breaks to move around. Let them hand out materials, run errands, or erase the board. Also, let the student stand up at his or her desk if it helps them stay on task.
6. If a student must stay seated, provide them with seating alternatives such as “wobble discs” or ball chairs.
7. Do not punish students by keeping them in during recess. Kids with ADHD need to move. More often than not, they focus better after recess.
8. Assign harder classwork during the start of the day and save the easier tasks for later when kids have less energy and focus.
9. Pair a student with ADHD with a kind and mature classmate who can give reminders to the child.
10. Rewards work. Punishments don’t. Use incentives to motivate students. This will help make school a positive, not negative experience. Remember to vary the rewards to keep things fresh.
11. Reduce the student’s total workload and break down assignments into smaller chunks.
12. Provide students with hand or foot fidgets. Having something tactile to handle often keeps a child focused.
13. If the school allows it, some students benefit from chewing gum to release energy and maintain concentration.
ADHD can be handled and overcome, but not without understanding, patience, and a positive plan.
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