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The Importance of Routines and Schedules for Students with ADD/ADHD

written by: lhunsicker • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 9/11/2012

For ADD/ADHD students, deviations in daily routines may cause unnecessary learning distractions. Routines and schedules are helpful and important for children who have special needs, so for students with ADD/ADHD, structured class time is crucial for academic access and success.

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    Routines and Schedules for Students with ADD/ADHD

    Schedules and routines can be beneficial for children with ADHD and ADD. In fact, a structured daily schedule is crucial in meeting the learning needs of students who are easily distracted in the classroom. In this article, you fill find a few examples of different types of schedules that can be used to enhance the learning experience for ADHD/ADD students.

    One example is giving students a short list of tasks to complete which gives them something visual to use to help them remember to stay on task. Routines are extremely important for children with ADHD by setting up regular times for meals, homework and group collaboration. However, you must remember to always follow through on the schedules to help students create routine and predictability in their daily routines. If you do not follow through with predictable schedules, this can cause behavioral problems with the student you are working with. Predictable routines help in lowering stress for students with ADD/ADHD, and classroom predictability has also been found to be applicable for autistic children in lowering stress.

    Here are three different types of schedules:

    1.) A picture/word schedule on a large poster board provides a great visual daily schedule for students. The picture/word schedule is used for the whole class in showing the daily routine of the classroom. The teacher will need to remember to have a card or something to put up for special occasions and to put it over whatever it will be replacing on the daily picture/word schedule.

    2.) A key ring/chain schedule, is a convenient portable schedule for the teacher or the students to hold/carry when a teacher needs to remind them of what is next show them a picture/word card of what they need to do next. Students can easily refer to the their key ring/chain schedule in getting back on track with the scheduled routine in the classroom.

    3.) The Pringles Can schedule is one of my favorites. The teacher can take a strip of Velcro and attach it down the side of the can and then cover the rest of the can with construction paper or contact paper. Cut a slit or hole in the lid of the can so the teacher or student can slide small square cards through it. Take a sheet of picture word cards that are pictures of the student's schedule, laminate it, then cut them into small squares and put pieces of Velcro on the backs.

    Next, the teacher needs to get the can ready every morning before the student arrives and then as the student completes each task or scheduled activities, the student gets to remove a card so that by the end of the day, all the cards should be in the can signaling completion of the day's schedule. This can also be done on a small poster board, but the pringles can be better oftentimes because it travels with you and with the students.

    There are a diversity of schedules and routines that teachers can use in enhancing the learning experience for students with ADD/ADHD. The three schedules above are some of my favorites in the classroom and with time and practice can become some of yours.

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