Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder can thrive in the educational environment if the teacher is innovative and creative when setting up the classroom. Kids with ADHD may need special adjustments and accommodations to help them remain focused and attentive throughout the school day. The following helpful tips will help teachers create a learning environment that is functional and well-designed. A few simple adaptations can assure optimal performance for the child with ADHD as well as the other students in the classroom.
1. Desk Placement
Children with ADHD are easily distracted. It might be helpful to place the ADHD student’s desk in the front of the classroom, away from the pencil sharpener, restroom, the window, and door to the hallway. Sometimes placing the desk close to the teacher’s desk helps the child stay focused. Make frequent eye contact with the child, and redirect him as necessary if he becomes distracted or disruptive. Keeping desks separated, rather than pushing the desks together seems to work better with ADHD students. ADHD students who work independently seem to have an easier time completing tasks and focusing on assignments.
2. Create Consistent and Predictable Routine
Children with ADHD need to know what to expect, and what is expected of them. Have a poster or bulletin board in the classroom that defines appropriate classroom behavior. Review the chart with students regularly to assure compliance with classroom rules. Write assignments on the board and provide a specific time frame for students to read over assignments and write them down if necessary. Homework assignments should be posted and reviewed before children are dismissed for the day. ADHD students need routine. Let them know five minutes before bathroom breaks, the lunch bell, library, gym time or breaking for recess so they can be prepared and ready when the bell rings.
3. Provide Opportunities for the ADHD Student to Move Around
If your ADHD student appears restless or agitated, try sending him on an errand. Ask him to take the day’s lunch money or attendance sheets to the office, or ask him to deliver a note or correspondence to another teacher. Allowing the ADHD student to walk back and forth or stand in the back of the classroom, rather than sitting in his seat might help alleviate anxiety or restlessness. Provide frequent breaks and allow the student to step outside the classroom if he needs to compose himself.
C8 Sciences’ ACTIVATE™ program recognizes the need to combine classroom and computer work with a structured physical exercise program. ACTIVATE™ is a brain training program that combines cognitive brain training activities with a group and individual physical exercise program to give the child with ADHD ample opportunity to move and exercise. The combination of computer based cognitive activity and vigorous physical activity has proven to be an extremely effective teaching method for ADHD students across the country.
4. Initiate Special Ways to Communicate with the ADHD Student
ADHD students thrive on attention. They are often so hungry for attention that they seek it in ways that are inappropriate. It may be helpful to develop a little strategy to let the ADHD student know when his behavior is getting out of hand. You might come up with a secret code or word you can use to let the student know he is acting inappropriately or speaking out of turn. Try to stand near the student’s desk when presenting lessons or speaking to the class. A pre-arranged hand sign can be used to communicate with the ADHD student when necessary.
5. Think Positive!
A little positive praise goes a long way. All students seek positive reinforcement from their teacher, but it is particularly important to praise the child with ADHD when he is doing the right thing. The more proper behavior is reinforced, the more it will occur. Negative consequences are never as effective as positive praise, so look for opportunities to reward good behavior. The ADHD student may not know how to avoid inappropriate behavior. Coach and encourage him whenever you can.
6. Let the ADHD Student “Buddy Up” with a Peer
Peer coaching can be an effective tool when trying to teach proper behavior in the classroom. Pair your ADHD student with a classmate who consistently displays proper behavior. The ADHD student often takes his cues from classmates. If he is paired with a partner who is quiet, compliant, organized and well-behaved, the ADHD student may develop some of those skills simply by observing his peer. A peer coach can help the ADHD student complete assignments and projects on time if they work on assignments as partners.
Children with ADHD and other learning disorders can be a challenge for teachers. If you make an effort to meet the child where he is, and make some of these simple changes and adaptations in your classroom, your experience with the ADHD child will be positive for you and for him.