Why ADHD and Structured Environment are a Winning Combination

Why, exactly, is structure important when dealing with ADHD in the classroom? The word “structure” is often thrown about a lot in different academic circles, notably when it comes to parenting children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but it’s essential to first define “structure” in a clinical sense before moving forward: A “structured” environment can be defined as one that is “organized and predictable,” so when there exists day-to-day routines and a daily schedule in place for children to follow, therein lies structure. Likewise, when house rules, expectations and consequences are consistently implemented and clearly understood by the child – and positively reinforced by the parent(s) – an environment that is “predictable” is created.
In a “structured environment,” a child knows what to expect, and a great sense of security comes from this…and managing ADHD in the classroom becomes a closer reality.

How Does This Relate to ADHD in the Classroom?

Boy With ADHD in the ClassroomAll children benefit from routines, and a great number of those kids boast the ability to structure things around themselves to develop good habits on their own. The situation takes on a different dynamic when talking about a child with ADHD, however, because of the ADHD itself – it must be understood that children suffering with ADHD grapple with the ability to regulate themselves (i.e. to stop indulging in certain behaviors while keeping their focus when a plethora of distractions are pulling them in different directions). This is precisely why teaching students with ADHD in the classroom becomes challenging.
The elements that comprise the core of ADHD symptoms typically lead to problems with self-control; as a result, children diagnosed with the problem require additional external controls (structured environment) in order to help them manage the symptoms. When these external controls are “built in” at home, there is a very good chance the child can experience more successes while teaching them good skills and habits along the way.
A child with ADHD, in particular, requires a classroom environment that is well-structured so that they are aware of their exact expectations at all times during the day. For the purpose of preventing or minimizing common behavioral issues in the classroom, teachers need to always ensure clear feedback to the child what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, while also providing follow-through, consistency and predictability.

What Comprises the Ideal Structured Environment Classroom for Students with ADHD?

Classroom Strategies for Students with ADHD

When understanding why structure is so important with regard to ADHD in the classroom, it is vital to establish an environment that encompasses some or all of the following elements:

  • A structured and well-organized area, which includes clear schedules, routines, rules and careful planning of seating and physical space for children with ADHD in the classroom.
  • Calm and predictable yet warm, welcoming and inclusive surroundings.
  • A place with clearly defined rules and behavioral guidelines.
  • A focus on positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior.
  • Approaches which back up behavioral limits and boundaries that are consistently enforced.

It’s also vital to create an environment which is mutually supportive and which builds a sense of “community” and teamwork, yet is flexible enough to accommodate individual students’ needs. There should also be a priority on making this space emotionally and physically safe.
Programs such as ACTIVATE™ from C8 Sciences have been working on combatting ADHD in the classroom through enhancing executive function in students. ACTIVATE™ takes advantage of structured sophisticated games and physical exercises to measure and improve the brain’s core cognitive capacities, while delivering real-time data to teachers and professionals and helping students focus to make learning fun again.

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