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Teacher Strategies for ADHD

written by: Ann Olson • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 8/2/2012

Teaching children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is difficult because their ability to concentrate and retain information is limited by the disorder. Teachers can ensure they learn on the same level as other students by using the following strategies.

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    The Importance of Teaching Strategies

    Teaching children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be difficult--their inability to stay focused, even when they mean to, presents a real challenge for both the teacher and the student. Teachers can ensure that ADHD children stay on task by implementing several teaching strategies, which enhances the child's ability to learn and retain important information. The following situations can help teachers identify a troublesome situation and use alternative methods to encourage learning.

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    Homework Instructions

    Children with ADHD have a harder time listening to directions, especially if they are long and complicated. Having to listen to long, sentence-rich instructions, either spoken verbally or written on paper, challenges their brain, increasing the risk of misunderstandings or a loss of concentration. Teachers can eliminate some of the confusion by simplifying the directions and using visual aids when possible.

    Strategy: Give one instruction at a time; ask the child to write down the instructions if given orally. Try illustrating the instructions. If giving oral instructions, use objects or pictures to illustrate what the child must do to complete the assignment.

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    Organization

    Organization is an important part of any student's day, especially for those with ADHD. It helps them find things quickly and reduces confusion or anger because of lost materials. Using organizational materials helps the child stay focused, helps place assignment in easily accessible places, and allows them to find materials quickly.

    Strategy: Instruct the student to keep all school materials in a big, three-ring binder with section dividers, found in any major retail or office supply store. Ask them to have a folder for each class, clearly labeled. They should have clearly labeled containers for keeping other supplies, such as pencils, paper, or erasers.

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    Test Taking

    Children with ADHD may find test taking, especially timed tests, daunting and difficult to complete. Tests also require more concentration on the student's part. Their minds may wander as a result. The teacher can ease the stress of test taking by allowing the student ample time, splitting the test into several sections to make it seem shorter.

    Strategy: If possible, don't time tests. Children with ADHD take longer to complete tests--the stress of completing it on time may worsen their ADHD behavior. Make the tests as short as possible to also reduce this risk, splitting it into several sections to be completed on different days. Teachers should also allow children to bring tests home to complete.

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    Helping Students Stay On Task

    These teacher strategies make it easier for children to stay on task, allowing them to learn on the same level as other students. It is important to keep children on task without threatening them with punishment, which only encourages bad behavior--something both the teacher and the child want to avoid.