ADHD in the Classroom

Teachers and kids can be overwhelmed at times in a classroom. Now add a child with ADHD (Attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder) that needs a little extra attention, and the school day can be challenging. You know, the kind of kid that is constantly staring out the window unphased by their surroundings, the child that can’t sit still for a mere minute, or the one that can’t stop talking? Kids with ADHD can have a harder time getting thru classroom material, moving from subject to subject, or simply finding their focus. It is the least to say “frustrating” for both parties.

A teacher’s main focus is to ensure that each child receives the best education possible. Learning a child’s needs and how to accommodate them with the best tools will help make the days go by easier. That’s why the classroom is one of the many keys to success for both teacher and student.

What signs do many with ADHD have in the classroom

Today ADHD is so prevalent – in the classroom and anywhere. What exactly is it like for a student with ADHD in the classroom? Here are a few situations a student with ADHD might encounter.

Difficulty focusing on schoolwork

A number of reasons can present themselves for why students have a hard time focusing on their schoolwork. Anxiety, stress, or a new environment can make it hard for a child to concentrate in the classroom. Perhaps they are easily distracted by someone making noises behind them. Or you think “they are listening,” but “nope” they are not. When you repeat information to them, the child gets frustrated comprehending or reiterating the information back.

Loss of focus on schoolwork can lead to multiple issues in the classroom throughout the school year. Although many may think that ADHD in a classroom is pure chaos, that is not always true. Both extremes of inattentiveness to classroom disarray can exist.

The constant need to move

A common sign of children with ADHD is the need to constantly move. Tapping their fingers on the desk, shaking their legs, fidgeting, and not sitting still are just a few of the movements that teachers deal with when trying to get thru a lesson.

Most children with ADHD need to move in order to think, talk, release energy, or even find peace. Nonetheless, it is one of the most common challenges in the classroom. Sitting still can be frustrating for the child causing them more anxiety. Not to mention it also disrupts the entire classroom.

Emotional struggles

Emotions can run strong with a child who has ADHD. One moment they are happy and the next they are crying and throwing tantrums. It is hard for a child to regulate their emotions in a classroom. A happy child in the morning might encounter some social obstacles throughout the day. This can make what seemed like a good day a miserable one by 4pm. Kids with ADHD will have a harder time putting the brakes on their emotions and managing it in many social situations. Meltdowns will happen, but it’s handling them with perseverance that is important.

What can teachers do to help students with ADHD in the classroom?

1. Seating, Seating, and Seating

It’s important to make sure the classroom is comfortable for the child to learn. So seating is critical to their success. You might want to avoid a window or classroom door for the hundreds of distractions that could transpire. Instead, position the child somewhere where they can learn and stay focused. Whether you have a child that is inattentive or constantly distracted by noises, where they sit is key to their success.

2. Let them move…

Children with ADHD sometimes just need to move, and that’s not a bad thing. So, give them an opportunity to move away from their desk. It helps them break down any sensory or stimulation issues with a little bit of downtime. Perhaps sectioning off the lesson with a few minutes of off time can help the child regroup.

Some ideas could be:

  • Quick stretch
  • Water break
  • Standing up to do work
  • Use that break box with fidget toys to help release energy
  • Learning methods that incorporate the child walking to the blackboard
  • Medicine balls will help with the sensation of movement
  • Therapeutic chairs such as the REST will help with movement

This is just a sample of some ideas that could work with helping your student focus better on their classwork.

3. Feedback

Positive feedback has never been a bad thing for anyone. Kids with ADHD need frequent attention and appraisal for the work they have done. Since their emotions can swing from one end of the pendulum to the other, you need to be more attentive and cautious of their feelings.

Talk to the child beforehand and let them have a plan of action. How can they handle their emotions in a bad situation? Perhaps a student said something “not so nice “to them and the child immediately gets angry or sad and throws a tantrum. What are some key concepts you can teach the child to handle their emotions? Another situation could be that the child doesn’t understand the assignment and it causes them much anxiety. How can you help them overcome that anxiety? Preparing them for uncomfortable situations will help them navigate their emotions ahead of time.

Some schools have even taken the approach of using a peer mentor for children with ADHD. This has helped the child learn better social skills when speaking to someone else other than their teacher.

Another great way of expressing feedback is through rewarding. Rewarding good behavior can help the child learn about incentives, and what they should be doing. Although it can get very boring for both the teacher and the student, you need to switch it up so that it’s not too easy!

Bring the parents onboard

Any teacher will tell you that the classroom is not the only place for a child with ADHD to be supported. Teachers and parents need to work together for a successful school year. Kids with ADHD may have issues at home that are brought into the classroom. Communicating regularly with parents to let them know their child’s progress can help mitigate problems that arise in the classroom and at home.

When both the teacher and the parent work together to benefit the child, both parties will be able to assess and lessen any obstacles along the way. As the saying goes, “it takes a village!”

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