The Challenges of Teaching Children With ADHD: Consider Alternative Approaches

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It is interesting to note the similarities between a person with ADHD and a gifted student who is bored. Both will have a poor attention span and spend time daydreaming. Neither student will have patience with activities that seem meaningless to their personal lives. They will each start many projects without following through. They are disorganized and often disruptive due to their high energy levels and their desire to talk. They are both highly sensitive to criticism. Therefore, it stands to reason that teaching strategies for children with ADHD can also be beneficial to the gifted student.

In fact, the teaching strategies that work well for the student with ADHD work well with all students. The rules should be clear, the room should be organized, and the routines should be structured. Activities should include a combination of high and low energy projects. Every activity should be interesting, with the connection to real life made clear.

A person with ADHD is generally very intelligent and will learn new information quickly as long as they find it interesting. They do very well in situations in which they have to come up with creative solutions to meaningful problems, especially if the problem solving involves hands-on work. If you can capture their attention they have incredible stamina. If you notice they are engaged in a small project, it could be worthwhile to turn it into a longer project for them. Working on it could be a reward for positive behavior throughout the year, and they will have completed a long-term project which is something they have more than likely decided they could never do.

Successful teaching strategies for children with ADHD center around understanding directions. Assignments can be given verbally as well as writing them on the board. It’s important to make sure the student is copying down the assignments completely and correctly. Before taking an exam the student needs to be clear on what the directions are. It is a good idea to have the student repeat directions back to you. Once the student successfully repeats the directions to you, s/he can give those instructions to a small group or to the class as a whole. Not only will this help to reinforce the directions, it will put the student in a leadership role. Giving this student a positive role in the classroom can help repair the strained social relationships common to children with ADHD.

A positive educational experience is desired for all students. While working with a student who has ADHD can be challenging, it can also be very rewarding. Their lively minds make for fun and interesting discussions which are not only personally enjoyable but beneficial for all students involved.