If you’re a teacher, or a parent, or work with kids in any capacity, you may recognize this child: The one who stares out the window during whole-group instruction. The one who answers the question, “What does that word say?” with “Ms. Divya, why does your hair look different today?”
Their hallmark symptoms of inattention and impulsivity can be frustrating. Their behaviors take time away from instruction and disrupt the entire class. And, what is most frustrating about it all is that you know they have the brainpower, but they are unable to focus for long enough to retain the information.Learning can be challenging for children with ADHD. Here's how we can support. Click To Tweet
However, with patience and appropriate strategies, these kids ARE able to thrive in the classroom. Here are some suggestions.
1) Repeat yourself.
Do you, as an adult, ask someone to repeat themselves if they are talking too quietly? Or if you happened to be lost in thought? This. Is. Normal. Children need to be taught that it’s OK to ask people to repeat themselves. They don’t need to be reprimanded because they didn’t hear it the first time. They are not robots.
Sure, it can be frustrating. So use some visual cues (a hand gesture, a bright-colored paper, etc.) before you present important information. Make sure you’ve captured their attention before you speak. And, yes, if necessary, repeat yourself.
You are not giving in to poor learning behaviors. You are being helpful to students who need some extra reminders.
2) Be engaging.
Nobody is asking you to tap dance on top of your desk. But, speaking AT children for an excessive amount of time is going to be challenging for any student. Not just the students with ADHD.Allow students to productively struggle. This will increase investment & curiosity. Click To Tweet
Worksheets don’t teach kids how to critically think. Allowing them to explore and productively struggle? That is how you build investment and curiosity. Hook them in. With emotional content or a costume. With a short movie clip or a story. Be engaging. Your students need to enjoy learning if you want them to be successful.
3) Occupy the right side of the brain. This will allow the left brain to concentrate on work.
Let your students fidget. Or play with cubes and stress balls while they listen to you lecture. Let them sit on yoga balls or spinning chairs. Or stand up and pace while instruction is happening.
Sidetracking a person’s subconscious mind allows their conscious mind to focus. Click To Tweet
Distract them. When an ADHD student’s creative brain, or body, is occupied, their logical brain can concentrate.
4) Shift your mindset and thinking.
Your goal is not to change the way the child’s brain operates. In fact, a brain with ADHD will never change the way it operates. Students should learn strategies to help them work around their disability. And who better to model this than their teachers and/or parents? Accept that their disorder is a huge part of what makes them unique.
Instead of viewing them as a distraction in the classroom, focus on the advantages. They are teaching other students about the variety of learning styles. They are teaching the other kids about what it means to be tolerant, loving, and supportive.
More than anything, be patient. They are just as frustrated that they can’t pay attention. They want to learn and play and be like everyone else.
Whether you know it or not, they’re teaching you lessons, too.
Questions of the Day:
- Do you know a child who struggles with inattention or impulsivity?
- How do you support the students or kids you work with?