Strategies for Teaching Students with ADHD

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Overwhelming Emotions

When a student has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), often they see classroom assignments as a giant mountain they are unable to climb. So, instead of attempting the climb they stand at the foot of the mountain staring up at the peak shaking their head in despair. For the teacher this can be very frustrating as well. Because of large classroom sizes, it is very difficult for the teacher to give individual attention. As the student stares at their work, the day progresses with very little being completed. Throughout the day the teacher may become aggravated by the lack of work completed and by the time the dismissal bell rings, both teacher and student are relieved that the day is over.

However, for the student, the day isn’t completely over. Once they reach home, they must not only complete the class work that was not finished in school, but also the homework assignments. This becomes even more overwhelming for the student with ADHD, and by the end of the night, no work is done and parents and students are both frustrated and in tears.

Team Work is the Key

Both teachers and parents have the same goal in mind. They want to see the student succeed. When teachers and parents work together to reach this goal everyone will feel better and will also begin to see results. By creating a communication notebook, parents and teachers will have the opportunity to keep track of daily assignments and any behaviors that need to be addressed.

Quality of Learning

As a teacher, it is difficult to keep up with every student all the time. It may be necessary to modify the student’s work to fit their capabilities. The goal is not necessarily the quantity of work, but the quality of learning. In a previous article, I outlined easy steps to keep a student with ADHD focused during math assignments. This will work for any assignment regardless of the subject.

The teacher can help communicate assignments to the parents by completing a daily assignment sheet to send home. For each subject, teachers can fill in the classroom work, homework, or any behaviors that need to be addressed. If everything is completed, marking the chart with a smiley face or star will encourage the student to continue their good efforts.

Parent Communication

As a parent, having a child with ADHD can often be stressful and overwhelming. Most parents dread the daily homework and often find themselves up way past bedtime trying to get their child to focus. Working at home needs to have the same structure as working at school. Students with ADHD work much better in a structured environment free of excessive noise and distractions. This can sometimes be difficult for the parent, because of siblings who need to be cared for as well, but working around schedules, parents can usually find a solution.

When the child comes home from school you can discuss the day’s events with them during snack time. It is important to let your child vent their frustrations of the day and let them know that you are listening. After snack time, immediately get to work while the child is still in “school mode”. Look at the communication sheet for daily assignments and use the steps that I outlined in my previous article to help your child stay focused. Additionally, do not expect your child to work independently. For the student with ADHD, this is a very difficult task and they are already tired from their school day. Sit with them and read out each question one at a time while the child writes down the answers. You will find that by taking the extra time to do this, your child will complete the work much faster.

Rewarding the Student

When the teacher and the parents work together, eventually the student with ADHD will succeed and feel much better about going to school and completing assignments at home. It is important to reward the student for any efforts, no matter how slight. This will raise the student’s self-esteem and in turn everyone is rewarded with less stress and frustration.