If you are a parent or teacher of a child with ADHD, this list is for you! Simple modifications and strategies implemented within the classroom can often make a big difference in a child’s success in school.
Strategies for the Classroom
1. Classroom rules should be clear and concise and reviewed regularly with the student. It is helpful to have the child repeat back rules, expectations or other instructions to make sure they are understood. These rules should be posted prominently in the classroom.
2. Make sure the student is seated close to the teacher and away from distractions (away from doors, windows, cubby area, pencil sharpeners, etc.).
3. Give the student frequent and immediate feedback or consequences about behaviors.
4. Catch the student being good and give him immediate praise. Ignore negative behaviors that are minimal and not disruptive.
5. Use rewards and incentives before punishment to motivate the student and to help keep school feeling like a positive place. Change up the rewards frequently to help prevent the student from becoming bored.
6. Allow student frequent physical breaks to move around (to hand out or collect materials, run errands to the office or other areas in the school building, erase the board, get a drink of water at the water fountain, etc.)
7. Allow some restlessness at work area. Allow student to stand up at his desk if it helps him stay on task.
8. Tape an index card to the student’s desk with written class rules. Help him keep track of the schedule by reviewing it with him at various times during the day and prepare him for each transition.
9. Limit distractions, excessive noise, distracting visual stimuli, clutter, etc. (For some kids with ADHD listening to “white noise” or soft background music can help concentration and focus)
10. Reduce the student’s total work load. Break work down into smaller sections.
11. Give concise one or two step directions. Avoid “overloading” with too much info.
12. Place a hand on the student’s shoulder, hand or arm while talking to him in order to help him stay focused on what is said.
13. Allow the student to hold a small “koosh ball” or silly putty or something tactile for him to manipulate. This slight stimulation often helps keep an ADHD child focused.
14. If the school allows it, some students benefit from chewing gum to release energy and keep concentration.
15. Schedule the most difficult subjects in the morning time when the student (and the whole class) is more fresh and less fatigued.
16. Do not use loss of recess as a consequence for negative behavior. (ADHD kids benefit from the physical movement that occurs during recess and can usually focus better following this exercise)
17. Use timers, taped time signals, or verbal cues to show how much time the student has remaining for an activity.
18. Pair the student with a “study buddy” –- a kind and mature classroom peer who can help give reminders or refocus the child when he gets off track.