Teaching Students With ADHD: Teacher Help

Class clowns. That’s how some teachers describe students with ADHD.  The class clown behavior from students with ADHD can make teaching challenging and many teachers look for ADHD strategy help from parents and colleagues.  If you are the parent of a child with ADHD then you can give teachers your suggestions for what helps your child at home.  Below are 3 ADHD teacher strategies I believe can help.

3 Strategies To Help Teachers with ADHD Children

1.  Reinforce Incompatible Behaviors.

handsLets say your child with ADHD has busy hands and as you teach he picks at his eraser and tears it into minuscule pieces.  This creates a huge mess on the child’s desk and around the desk on the floor.  The teacher could ask the child with ADHD to put the pencil down and then slide his or her hands under their legs.  Then the student with ADHD can’t pick at the eraser.  This behavior (hands under legs) is incompatible with the behavior of picking the eraser. The picture to the left illustrates how this might look.  It’s not uncomfortable for most kids and, if your hands are cold, it warms them right up.

When I was a kid my mom used this principle on my sister and me when we traveled in the car.  Back then there were no dvd players, iPads, and electronics to entertain the kids.  We entertained ourselves by playing the license plate bingo game or the alphabet game using words from billboards.  A lot of the time we argued about keeping off ‘my side’ of the seat.  I guess all the talking got to my parents and they needed some quiet time in the car.  My mom’s strategy was to fill our mouths with candy so that we couldn’t talk.  She’d buy bags of hard candy for us to suck on and would dish those out when she needed that quiet time.  When our mouths had a sour ball or two in them we wouldn’t talk. That was an incompatible behavior!

2.  Keep them engaged.

When children with ADHD are not engaged in activities they find meaningful, they create their own fun.  Teachers can help children with ADHD by engaging them in meaningful work at their instructional level.  This means not making the work too easy, too hard, but just right.  Kinda like Goldilock’s soup– just the right temperature.

3.  Provide short breaks.

Most kids with ADHD have difficulty sustaining (maintaining) their attention.  It’s especially difficult for children with ADHD to maintain their attention when the task requires ongoing mental effort.  The child with ADHD becomes mentally exhausted.  When this occurs the child needs a break.  What usually happens the child turns and talks to his or her neighbor, plays in his desk, goes and sharpens her pencil—something that gives him or hear a break.  The intuitive teacher learns to recognize when the child with ADHD is at the brink of becoming overwhelmed and intervenes.  This is a proactive way to help the child.  The teacher could (a) allow the student to stand and stretch, (b) go get a drink of water, (c) sit at a table in the back of the room rather than at his or her desk, (d) send the chid on an errand to deliver a note to another teacher, and many more things like this.

If your child has ADHD consider sharing this with the teacher.  I’ve been a classroom teacher and I know teachers are always looking for fresh ideas to help their children with ADHD have a great school experience.  Contact me if I can help you with your child with ADHD.