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Managing Children/Preschoolers' ADD in the Classroom

written by: Kathy Foust • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 9/11/2012

Children/preschoolers' Attention Deficit Disorder can be an incredibly difficult thing to manage in the classroom if the instructor does not make use of available tools and tips. Use the information here to make the day flow smoother, by developing a schedule that works in your classroom!

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    What to Expect of ADD

    Children/preschoolers' Attention Deficit Disorder can easily create havoc in a classroom. Students who have this disorder have difficulty concentrating, sitting still and appreciating intrinsic rewards. Having a limited attention span means that these students may have difficulty learning, and may feel as if they are always in trouble. This is because many times the care giver is so distraught over the behavior of the child, that they have a difficult time noticing the positive things (much less letting the child know when they do something right). The information below as well as other ADD and ADHD management tips should help you to keep your classroom running smoothly.

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    Positive Reinforcement

    Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) has been found to be managed well with frequent use of positive reinforcement. While many children respond well to daily praise or rewards, the child with attention deficit disorder performs much better if they experience some type of positive reinforcement frequently within the day. There are many ways for the care giver to do this.

    One useful product is called the MotivAider. This is a type of timer that the care giver can keep in their pocket. The care giver sets the timer to go off as frequently as needed. Some days the time should be set for times like 20 minutes, while on other more difficult days the timer may need to be set for 5 minutes. When the timer goes off it vibrates instead of making noise. This is a great way for the care giver to remind themselves in a discrete manner that they should provide a reward or praise to the child in question. Use of a normal timer that makes noise is possible, but may be disruptive to the classroom.

    Keep in mind that the idea of positive reinforcement is to increase positive behavior. Mathematically speaking it only makes sense that if the positive behavior is increased, the negative behavior would decrease.

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    Care givers who deal with children/preschoolers with ADD may notice that these children respond better to concrete rewards, than they do to other things like praise. Since no one wants to spoil a child in order to promote proper behavior, it may be best to use a progressive reward system. Some ideas are listed below.

    • Sticker charts- These are charts that the child can place a sticker on every time they are praised by the care giver. The child gets a sticker, but after accumulating enough stickers there may be a more valuable prize (such as a new pencil or privilege).
    • Buttons- Buttons can be very useful as reward tools. The child receives a different button every time they receive praise. Once they have accumulated a set amount of buttons, allow them to play with the buttons or make a type of craft project, like a collage.
    • Puzzles- For children who like puzzles, why not reward them with a piece of a puzzle every time they are doing well? The child can either save them to complete the puzzle, or put the piece in place immediately.

    It's always a good idea to evaluate the child's interest at the beginning of the year, and every few months, to determine what interests have changed. Base the reward system on the interests of the child so that they want to be rewarded and put extra effort into their behavior!