Classroom Strategies with ADHD
ADHD doesn't mean you can't do things like focus. It does mean you can't do those things all the time. Here are some important tips we give to teachers for managing their classrooms if they have students with ADHD:
1) There is a disconnect between knowledge and follow-through (which is very frustrating).
2)Understand that it doesn't mean they are acting out. It’s not necessarily intentional. (Oppositional behavior is different.)
3) Approach them at their Executive Functioning level (which may be ~30% below their age level). Give them more structure and direction than their peers.
4) ADHD is situational. Context is very important. Are they hungry? Are the tasks boring? Did we break our normal weekly routine? Are we in a transition?
5) Make activities more interesting and engaging for the ADHD students. (Feed the need for dopamine.)
6) ADHD students have trouble anticipating and responding to consequences. When consequences are delayed, they are less likely to learn from it.
7) For general students, a new concept can take 30-300 learning trials before it sticks. The ADHD population may be on the higher end. They may need more practice, repetition, 1:1 attention, and supplementary resources, like tutoring.
8) Students with ADHD get bored with the same rewards. You may need to change rewards often.
9) Emotional regulation strategies: Pause. Down-regulate. Identify emotions. Identify high energy. Express in words. 15/3 or 20/5. Positive statements of affirmation.
10) Implement a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program or curriculum to aid in emotional regulation.
11) Just like math and literacy, Executive Functioning can be taught! Be deliberate about incorporating Working Memory, Time Management and Self Regulation into the classroom. Kids learn from mirroring.
12) The teacher/tutor must be a role model, and the environment should be a model environment (tidy, organized and well-planned). “The better organized the teacher, the better organized the student.”
13) Give lots of feedback. Be descriptive. Not just, “you did a good job today.” Better to say, “you did a good job when you completed your project on time and put your supplies away.”
14) Vary instructional styles to accommodate learners of different styles.
15) Use (and over-use) positive reinforcement. Kids want praise and attention.
16) Set up situations where the student can be successful and give them praise.
17) Catch them being good! (Note: much harder to do than catching them being bad.)
18) End on a high note (give easy questions at the end of a difficult lesson).
19) Practice mindfulness: Yoga; deep breathing (belly breathing); Practice pausing; Encourage positive self-talk.
20) Have a calm-down area (which is NOT time-out). It’s not punishment to down-regulate.
21) Consider seating and classroom layout. Traditional rows work well for ADHD students. There is less chance to get distracted and they can keep their own workspace. Shared tables may be more difficult.
22) Many kids don't know how to ask for help or how to self-advocate. Actively make offers to your class to help 1:1, to show them a different way of solving the problem, or to put them in touch with another teacher who can explain it a different way.
23) Have consistent follow-through.
24) Have your own calm-down strategies.
25) Make comments to the class and not the student. (Avoid calling out students with criticisms or negative feedback.) Negative attention does not help.
26) “Proactive is easier than reactive.” If you can change the situation or environment in advance, it’s easier than resolving a conflict or negative situation.
For more great info on this topic, checkout this webinar from CHADD!