Teaching is a wonderful profession. Working with kids and watching them grow in mind, body and spirit from the beginning of the school year in the fall until the first days of summer can bring about a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction for educators. Lesson plans are fun to create and a joy to present to students who are eager to learn. Yes, teaching is a wonderful profession. Until we encounter our first so-called “problem child.” Not all children are eager to learn… or easy to teach. That is where the real challenge for teachers begins and understanding ADHD is necessary.
Kids with ADHD are overly anxious to jump (literally) into the day, and show up for school in the morning bursting with unbridled energy and enthusiasm. They race down the hall toward their classroom, dropping things from their carelessly stuffed backpack, and banging into open lockers, not aware that the little first grader who was standing behind the door is now on the floor. You, the teacher, are the next unintentional target. The child is so excited about the field trip today that he runs up and hugs you so tightly you almost fall over.
As you ask the class to be seated so you can call roll, your sweet student is rocking in his chair, and rocks back a little too far. Over he goes, knocking over the desk behind him. You help little Jenny pick up her toppled desk, rearrange her supplies and start calling the roll where you left off, sending the attendance roster to the office 10 minutes late.
“OK, class, time to turn in your permission slips for the field trip this morning,” you announce. “Oh no!” You hear the frantic cry from the back of the room. “Oh no, oh no, oh no! I forgot my permission slip-on the counter. I took it out when I was looking for my lunch money. Now I can’t go on the field trip!” Before you can blink an eye, Mr. ADHD is running toward the door telling you he’s going to the office to call his mom to tell her to bring the permission slip …and it isn’t even 9 o’clock yet.
Sound familiar? If you have ever had students with ADHD in your classroom, this scenario, though possibly exaggerated, may sound like something you might have experienced. Children with ADHD, though delightful and bright, can present special problems for teachers and peers. The following tips might be helpful for teachers and the students in her care who have ADHD.
• Post classroom rules and review them frequently. Ask the students to read the rules aloud, and be sure each student understands the rules and the consequences for breaking them.
• Arrange seating strategically. Place the desks in rows, and make sure students with ADHD are seated in the front, facing your desk, away from distractions such as windows, doors, pencil sharpeners and restrooms.
• Allow plenty of time for movement. ADHD students get agitated if they are required to sit for too long. If you notice fidgeting, rocking, pencil tapping or other signs of unrest, ask the student to run an errand for you, or take a short restroom or drink break.
• Give verbal instructions clearly and write them on the board, if possible.
• Use visual prompts, such as calendars, charts and lists.
• Create a quiet corner in the classroom if space permits. If you notice the ADHD student having a difficult time concentrating when taking a test, reading, or working on an assignment, suggest that he move to the quiet corner.
• Make eye contact with the student with ADHD when giving him instructions or direction.
• Allow time at the end of each day for all students to get organized and ready for dismissal. Remind them of homework assignments, items that are due tomorrow, supplies that might be needed at home to complete homework. If the weather is cold, remind them to pick up hats and coats on the way out the door.
• Utilize the computer as much as possible. Assignments don’t get lost if they’re on the classroom computers. The C8Sciences ACTIVATE™ program is the perfect tool for teaching all students, especially those with ADHD and other learning disabilities. The program is effective, well researched, and has been developed with kids who learn a little differently in mind. The computer based brain-training program is a wonderful asset to any school, and will benefit students with ADHD. The students who participate in the ACTIVATE™ program develop skills that will help carry them through the obstacles they face daily in their struggle to cope with the symptoms of ADHD.