How can a school teacher help a child with ADHD?

Julia Ovcharenko, CEO of Numo
January 11, 2024

Navigating the challenges posed by students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in school requires a nuanced approach. These students may struggle with following instructions, maintaining attention, and adhering to discipline, presenting a constant trial for educators. The inherent hyperactivity and distractibility can become overwhelming, prompting teachers to ponder, "What steps can I take in this situation?"

To address this concern, the tutors at Mathema have curated a set of practical tips based on their firsthand experiences, offering valuable insights for teachers seeking effective strategies to assist children with ADHD.

First of all, try to understand the child with ADHD

Children with ADHD don't intend to turn a classroom into chaos. They aim not to wander around, become easily distracted, or disregard instructions. The challenge lies in the fact that the traditional school education system often overlooks the specific needs of those with ADHD.

Consider this: What is expected of children in a school setting? Concentration, attentiveness, perseverance, patience, and discipline. These demands can pose significant challenges for a child with ADHD, as their brains operate in a manner that may be unfamiliar to others.

For educators dealing with ADHD, the initial step is to comprehend how these children think and how their brains function. Gathering pertinent information is crucial, and resources like NUMO's ADHD Journal or informative books on the subject, such as "Raising an ADHD Child" by Fintan O'Regan and Zoe Beezer (initially written for parents but equally beneficial for teachers), can provide valuable insights.

Equipping teachers with a comprehensive understanding of how an ADHD child's mind works enables a more composed response to the student's unique characteristics, preventing irritation or surprise at their behavior.

Find a quiet place in the classroom.

Sit the student with ADHD away from windows and doors in the classroom. Birds or clouds flying by outside the window may distract them for a short time. It is better if the student's seat is closer to the teacher and fewer objects are nearby. During the tests, the students should find the quietest place in the classroom where they will not be distracted by other students. 

You can also sit your student next to a child who could be a good role model for them. 

Offer an individual approach.

All children are different, and children with ADHD have their unique features and behave in very different ways. Therefore, the teacher should offer an individual approach for each student. 

Never try to comment in front of the class: “You are inattentive today or” or “You are too restless.” If you need to emphasize these problems, talk to the child privately. You can also invite their parents for this conversation. The critical point is to keep the atmosphere cheerful and child-friendly. 

Recommendation: When you have a child with ADHD in your class, create a small window for physical activity or warm-ups during your lesson. 2 minutes of simple physical exercises will help to relax and unload the brain. 

Develop an individual plan for this student.

A student with ADHD may forget about homework, test days, or other significant events in school. They need a detailed plan with dates and events listed in it. Ensure that any child with ADHD in your class has a diary or calendar, help them keep it, and ensure all critical items are completed. 

Helping these students divide large tasks into small ones will make them easier to complete. 

Review demands on the students with ADHD

We recommend creating individual learning conditions for students with ADHD: more time for tests, reduced homework, and shorter classroom assignments. Students should understand that they are good at their work, and their motivation will grow. If the task is too complex or lengthy, shorten it so that the student can do it and get the message: “I can learn at the same level as my peers.”

Get to know the student's strengths

Students with ADHD must be reminded more often than others that they are doing well. Therefore, you should learn about such student's strengths: helping others, creative tasks, imaginative tasks, science, maths, etc. This will allow you to build communication on praise rather than criticism.

Stay in touch with their parents 

Parents know their children's specific needs very well. They will help you understand the students and find the right approach to them. Schedule a meeting with the parents of a child with ADHD every month. You can discuss goals and priorities at these meetings and identify success and challenges. Such a discussion will be helpful for both home and school learning. 

Math for children with ADHD

To help children with ADHD understand maths, change how you do things. You can use sight, hearing, or touch depending on the child's unique needs. STEM learning kits are often used in maths lessons, so pay attention to them. Games, music, pictures - all this will be useful if you need to interest a student with ADHD. 

One last piece of advice

Working with students with ADHD is a challenge for teachers. The most important thing for a teacher is to create conditions for a relaxed learning process. Students of your class shouldn't bully such children, so you will have to explain to everyone why someone in the class has unique needs. 

Try to give students with ADHD more time, more attention, and more opportunities, but do not separate them from the general learning process. The student should feel part of the class, with the exact expectations, but with a little more support from their teacher. 

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