Are you an elementary school teacher who is having difficulty with one or more ADHD children in school? Would it be helpful if you had some tips on how to effectively deal with these children without sacrificing the time and learning of the other students? If so, the information presented here may be very helpful. In this article we will briefly outline the challenges many teachers face when trying to deal with ADHD children in school, followed by 7 tips that can help teachers manage these challenges effectively.
ADHD Children in School: The Challenges
Being a teacher is difficult enough, but when you factor in a certain percentage of ADHD children in your classroom, the job can become downright challenging.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a fairly common condition among school-age children, particularly among school-age boys. Studies indicate that approximately 7%-11% of all school-age children struggle with ADHD, with boys about 3x more likely to develop the disorder than girls. ADHD is characterized by three general symptoms—inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity—and these symptoms can result in an abundance of unwanted behaviors in the classroom. Some of these include:
- Daydreaming and forgetfulness
- Disorganization and sloppy work
- Inability to concentrate and focus on assignments
- Excessive talking and other distractive behavior
- Students fidgeting, squirming or frequently getting up out of their seats
- Blurting out answers when not called upon
- And many, many more
Dealing with these behaviors can often seem like an uphill battle for teachers, but as you will see in the next section, there are several ways to effectively manage this behavior, just by making some small changes and accommodations.
7 Tips for Teachers to Deal with ADHD Children in School
While coping with the effects of ADHD children in school is never easy, the following tips may help to make the experience a bit more mutually beneficial:
- Get Educated. As a teacher in elementary school this is no doubt your first time dealing with ADHD children in school, nor will it be your last. Therefore, it would be a significant benefit to you and these children to learn everything you can about the disorder.
- Minimize Distractions. Children with ADHD are, by nature, easily distracted, but by minimizing those distractions, perhaps by putting the child’s desk closer to your own, you will normally see an improvement in the child’s focus and concentration.
- Stick to a Routine. One of the ways to effectively manage ADHD symptoms is to stick to a strict routine, one involving small segments of work followed by frequent breaks.
- Reward Good Behavior. In addition to implementing consequences for inappropriate behavior, try rewarding the child for good behavior as well.
- Limit Choices. Students with ADHD should be offered choices just like the rest of the students, but if you limit those choices to just one or two options you can usually prevent the child from feeling overwhelmed.
- Use Small Groups. Placing students within small cooperative groups, both within the classroom and during activity breaks, is very beneficial for ADHD children in school. This is because many ADHD children have difficulties forming relationships and interacting with other children in a large group setting.
- Make Instructions Easy to Follow. The easier your instructions are to follow, the more success ADHD children in school will typically find. You may want to have students read those instructions aloud as well to ensure comprehension.
ADHD children in school can be difficult to manage, but it is important for teachers to separate the behavior from the child—it is not their fault. In most cases, students with ADHD are extremely gifted and have a willingness to learn, but because of their disorder, finding success in the traditional school model is often difficult. That is why making small modifications for ADHD children in school can often be the difference between success and failure.