Why ADHD Students Learn Differently
…And How Teachers Can Help
If it weren’t such a serious subject, the layman’s understanding of ADHD would almost be laughable. Unfortunately, the tendency to disregard ADHD as an unimportant, mild dysfunction is shared by many parents, educators, and even psychologists who should know better. Despite all the research, the big myths still stand tall. You’ve probably heard them yourself:
– The kids are just lazy. Their parents haven’t raised them right.
– ADHD is an excuse. Kids don’t have any work ethic anymore.
– It’s all those video games rotting their minds.
– Kids are overmedicated; ADHD is just a fancy term for what we used to call “undisciplined.”
Until teachers and other professionals take the time to understand what it means to have an executive function disorder, they will never be able to reach these kids. This is especially true in today’s educational environment where things like recess, tactile learning, play, and flexibility are being pushed out in favor of strict, robotic standards.
Why ADHD Students Learn Differently
ADHD is a disorder of the brain. The physical brain. It is a disorder that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for a child to regulate their behavior. It ruins their ability to make plans for the future, to keep track of time, to remember directions, to focus, to control emotions, to make friends, and to sit still. It is not a moral failing. It is a medical condition.
Children with ADHD do not learn in the same way that so-called “typically developed” kids learn. If the disorder is not compensated for, the teacher and the student are both destined for frustration and failure. Believing that you can teach a kid with ADHD in the same way that you can teach his peers is foolish. Yet teachers make this mistake on a daily basis.
Tailoring Lessons Toward ADHD Students
At C8 Sciences, we understand the realities of today’s educational restraints. It can be difficult to find the flexibility to overcome learning disabilities.
We also understand, however, that without that flexibility, kids with ADHD will struggle to succeed. In many cases, they will fail. If you’re committed enough to your craft to read this blog, then you’re not the type of teacher who is willing to let 10 percent of your students fall through the cracks. You want to help them, and for that level of dedication we commend you. Here are three strategies that will allow you to start making progress:
1. Make Motivation Real
One of the least understood aspects of ADHD is the motivational facet. Most children with ADHD cannot generate intrinsic motivation. They need external motivators. A report card six weeks into the future is not sufficient. You may as well ask a child to get serious about their retirement plan. Teachers must provide frequent, tangible motivation for their ADHD students if they want them to perform. Stickers, tokens, smiley-face stamps, you name it. It doesn’t have to be much, but it has to be immediate.
2. Increase Fun
Most ADHD students won’t tolerate boredom. They thrive on novelty and excitement. If you want to keep their attention, get them moving. Let them make the intangible concrete by incorporating games, songs, and anything else that gets them to move past that dreadful boredom. As it happens, this kind of learning can also prove beneficial for children without any learning disabilities.
3. Provide Routine
Because their brain won’t help them self-regulate, kids with ADHD need strict routines to help them do their best work. If you have a classroom schedule that is filled with unexpected interruptions, changes, and unpredictability, your ability to reach ADHD students will be compromised. If you have any control over it whatsoever, try to make each day as routine as possible.
ACTIVATE™: A Powerful Tool
While the above strategies can make it easier to teach students with ADHD and other executive function disorders, none of them address the root problem. ACTIVATE™, however, can do just that. By using brain-training computer games in conjunction with frequent progress reports and physical exercises, ACTIVATE™ accomplishes three things simultaneously:
- It gives teachers and parents a roadmap for teaching strategies that work.
- It cuts down on ADHD symptoms through the use of physical exercise, which has been proven to be nearly as beneficial as stimulant medication when it comes to making a daily difference in behavior.
- Most importantly, it re-trains the brain. It gives children a way to expand their ability to focus on a single task. It addresses each executive function in turn, building up the weak areas of the brain just as a person can build their muscles in the gym.
ADHD is an insidious disorder with lamentable outcomes for the untreated child. It can follow an individual into adulthood, leading to underemployment, depression, and social ostracization. By taking steps to reach out to these children, you’re not just bringing up test scores and improving the classroom environment. You are saving lives. From all of us at C8 Sciences, we thank you for making a difference.
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