ADHD in the Classroom
A lot of kids who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are diagnosed after their parents or teachers see that they are struggling with their schoolwork.
Losing belongings, fidgeting, daydreaming, getting easily distracted and interrupting are all signs of ADHD.
Children with the disorder might need extra help in class to stay on track. A classroom is a good place for them to practice paying attention and stay focused.
But before that, it is important to know what ADHD looks like in a classroom environment.
What Does ADHD Look Like In a Classroom Setting?
Have you noticed a child in your classroom who keeps staring out of the window or draws abstract figures during classes? The one who refuses to sit still even after you told them multiple times? The one who rarely gives a straight answer to questions asked in the process? Or the one you find yourself constantly calling out their name to stay focused?
Students displaying these symptoms of ADHD like impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity can be very frustrating, both for the teachers and the students themselves. It is sometimes difficult to tell if someone has ADHD because students tend to mask their ADHD in public spaces.
Though they may have the knowledge to answer the question, they can find it very difficult to focus on the tasks at hand or deliver what is expected.
Additionally, their behavior can take away from class time and may disrupt other students.
Students with ADHD can:
- Have trouble following instructions given in the classroom
- Demand attention by moving around and talking in the class
- Forget to do their homework or bring them incompleted in class
- Have problems working on long-term projects without any supervision
- Be uninterested in group work with other students
Therefore, it is so important for us adults to help students with ADHD. Whether it is giving them extra assistance, special accommodations, or just more explicit instructions to help them complete homework assignments, and stay organized. There are many ways in helping children succeed.
What Do I Do If I Think One of My Children Has ADHD?
As a teacher, you might be the first person to notice unusual behaviors in a student. If you suspect that your child has ADHD, talk to the child’s parents as soon as possible. Refer them to the doctors, the school’s guidance counselor, or a parent support group.
From here, these professionals may do further assessments. Based on the results of the tests and interviews, doctors can confirm if a child has ADHD or not. Teachers can also play an important role in diagnosis by keeping track of symptoms reported by classmates and family members of students with ADHD.
Being knowledgeable about what ADHD looks like in class is very important for teachers looking to help these children succeed in school and beyond.
Classroom Accommodations for Students With ADHD
Teachers can make alterations in the classroom to minimize the disruptions and distractions of ADHD.
You will find that some of these accommodations will not only help children with ADHD, they will also help other kids in the class too.
Here are some classroom accommodations:
- Work with the most difficult materials during the early hours of the day
- Give instructions slowly and one at a time. Repeat when and as necessary
- Using visuals like color coding, pictures, and charts
- Create outlines to organize the notes the information you deliver
- Give them a checklist to encourage them to check their own work. For example, have your written your name and date at the top, completed all the questions, and done your best
- Seat the student with ADHD at the front, unless that proves to be a distraction
- Seat the student away from windows and doors
- When taking tests make sure you seat them in a quiet area free of all distractions
- Seating students in rows with their focus on the teacher is better than seating them around tables facing one another
- Some children who have difficulty sitting for long periods of time need additional movement. Therefore, give them some opportunities to stretch their legs throughout the day
- Keep a daily routine as a visual aid for all the students to see
- Use a signal to gain the student’s attention like clapping your hands or ringing a bell
- Designate a place in the room for backpacks and other materials
- Color code books (e.g. green for maths and red for English)
- Help your student have a system for writing down important dates and assignments and use it appropriately, such as a timetable or diary
- Have a homework folder where they put all their homework materials, including homework book, worksheets, and maybe a pencil and eraser
- When working on longer tasks, like a written essay, some children may need the task broken down for them into smaller sections
- When going from one activity to another, give students enough time to save their work and get organized
- Give students an activity to occupy their time while they wait for others to finish
As a teacher, it is important to be aware of the unique needs of students with ADHD symptoms and create accommodations that allow them to succeed. By using strategies like these in the classroom, teachers can give children with ADHD the tools they need to thrive.
Things Teachers Can Do To Help Children with ADHD
There are also things that teachers can do on an individual level to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the classroom:
Acknowledge their good behavior
When you catch them doing good behavior, such as staying in their chair, trying to focus, or using the checklist, point it out to the child. This will help encourage positive behavior as they can see that someone is recognizing their actions.
For some children, you can even acknowledge their behavior in front of the rest of the class. This is especially true for those children who often receive lots of negative attention for being the “naughty kid” in class.
However, if the child is shy or does not like to appear different to other children, they maybe it is best to point it out to them quietly.
Use short and concise instructions
Give them one instruction at a time and keep it simple. Some children with ADHD have trouble with working memory so they might not remember what you have just told them. Keep the instructions simple so they can remember what you have just said and can follow that one instruction.
Additionally, make sure they understand what is expected of them before moving on. You can get them to repeat the instruction back to you, to confirm that they have heard what you said.
Use a timer for long tasks
If a child is having trouble focusing on a task, set a timer for a specific amount of time. When the timer goes off, give the child a small break.
This can also help improve their time management skills over time.
Make sure they are sitting in front
When children are sitting at the front of the class, they will have fewer visual and auditory distractions, compared to sitting at the back of the classroom.
This will help them pay attention better and avoid getting distracted.
Encourage them to take notes
For some children, this will help them pay attention and remember what is being talked about in class.
Give them time to process the information
After asking a question, give them time to think about the answer before calling on someone else.
Some children might need some additional time to collate their thoughts.
Avoid public humiliation
This will only make the child feel bad and could make the behavior worse. It is really important for teachers to help students with ADHD and understand that it is not the child’s fault.
The child is still learning and like with all other skills, needs guidance from adults to help them learn these skills.
Helping a child with ADHD can be difficult, but it is important to remember that every child is different. What works for one child might not work for another. The most important thing is to be patient and support the child in any way possible.
Classroom Treatment Strategies for ADHD Students
In addition to the above mentioned accommodations, there are few theories that have been known to work for students with ADHD:
Organizational skills teach children planning skills, ways to keep school materials organized, and time management skills. This strategy can help children with ADHD keep track of homework, complete long-term projects, and be on time for school.
Some of these children require explicit teaching to help develop these executive functioning skills.
Behavioral Classroom Management
This approach encourages a student’s positive behavior in a classroom environment through behavioral reinforcement. Through this technique, teachers can reward students for good behavior in class and redirect negative behaviors to positive ones.
In addition to these strategies, it is also important for teachers to get support from parents of ADHD children. By creating an open line of communication between the student’s family and teacher, they can find solutions together that will help the child succeed in school.
Both these strategies or any individualized education program need a group of trained staff including trained school counselor, teachers, and parents to be successful. The success of these strategies also depends on how well the school can implement them.
When it comes to children with hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, every little bit helps.
Why Is It Important to Keep An Eye on Students With ADHD?
For many children with ADHD, the classroom environment can be a challenging place. These students may struggle with maintaining focus and attention, managing impulsive behaviors, and completing assignments on time. As a teacher, it is important to be aware of these challenges and take steps to help students with ADHD succeed.
In addition to the strategies that exist, it is also important to work closely with parents of ADHD students. This can involve fostering an open line of communication, collaborating on strategies that work, and providing support when needed.
Overall, whether using behavioral classroom management or accommodations in the classroom, it is important to remember that every little bit helps when it comes to students with ADHD. By being aware of their unique needs and supporting them as best we can, teachers can help these students thrive both inside and outside of the classroom.
As a teacher, it is important to understand the challenges faced by students with ADHD and work to create an environment that is supportive and conducive to learning. By using strategies like those mentioned above in the classroom, teachers can help these students succeed both now and in the future. Also knowing how age affects ADHD & whether or not they are likely to outgrow ADHD is an important factor to consider.
Whether working together with parents or implementing accommodations for individual students, it is essential that teachers remain vigilant in their efforts to support these students. With the right approach, it is possible for children with ADHD to thrive.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, April 19). ADHD in the classroom. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/school-success.html
Classroom adjustments: ADHD. Classroom adjustments: ADHD – Nationally Consistent Collection of Data. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.nccd.edu.au/professional-learning/classroom-adjustments-adhd
Melinda. (2022, March 24). Teaching students with ADHD. HelpGuide.org. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/teaching-students-with-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder.htm
What’s ADHD (and what’s not) in the classroom. Child Mind Institute. (2022, March 22). Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://childmind.org/article/whats-adhd-and-whats-not-in-the-classroom/