If you are parenting a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), then you know how exhausting it can be to stay on top of their performance in school, and to help their neurologically atypical brains retain information.
The educators at your child’s school can be your best supporters, and under Section 504 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act, they are required to work with parents to meet the needs of children significantly affected by ADHD. This means you will need to set up a meeting about your child’s ADHD to find ways to help them learn.
Below are some accommodations and teaching tips used to help kids with ADHD achieve success in school:
1. Paint It Positive—
For the psychological well-being of your child, it’s extremely important that you don’t describe their condition in a negative manner, and instead present it to them in a positive way. (Example: “You have a really fast brain… like a race car!”) Remind them that everyone learns differently… and that’s okay.
Be sure teachers are also treating kids with ADHD as “quick-brained” kids who learn differently, and not isolating them from the other kids, so they don’t feel ostracized or flawed.
2. Praise is Powerful—
Kids with ADHD often suffer from low self-esteem because they feel like they’re constantly failing at the things all of the neurologically typical children around them can do.
This makes it crucial to give them positive reinforcement for appropriate classroom behavior whenever possible.
3. Accountability for Actions—
It is important that kids are not allowed to use ADHD as an excuse for bad classroom behavior.
Even if the impulse control commonly exhibited by kids with this condition caused them to do something without thinking, there still need to be clearly defined and consistent consequences.
4. Selective Seating—
With the high distractibility factor of ADHD-brained children comes the need for a learning environment with the least amount of external stimulation possible.
Seating by windows, doors, pencil sharpeners and other concentration-breakers is not recommended.
Placement as close to the teacher as possible, facing forward is best, but if the classroom is organized in groups or tables, be sure to seat them near a well-organized, obedient child to provide a positive behavioral role model.
5. Simplify Steps—
One of the hardest things for an ADHD-brained person to do is remember more than a few steps at once. Be sure to deliver instructions one at a time, and repeat if necessary.
Because they are so easily distracted (when not hyper-focused and ignoring all around them), those with ADHD neurology can have very limited short term memory, so adjust classroom lessons and homework accordingly.
6. Orderly Organization—
Kids with ADHD are known for being disorganized and forgetful due to their distractibility and impulsive nature, making it hard for them to think beyond the moment.
These qualities are caused by a developmental delay in the prefrontal cortex of the brain: the part that controls executive functions, such as impulse control and focus.
This means they will need help remembering what to take home and bring back to school, with plenty of parent-teacher communication. A written system to remember important work or due dates can help, as can a list posted in their locker to be checked before leaving school every day.
For older children, an extra set of all textbooks to be kept at home can help eliminate the issue of forgetting to bring books home for homework.
7. Remembering Routines—
Getting into a routine can be helpful for any child, but for the ADHD mind, routine is necessary for remembering important daily tasks. Forming regular habits can eventually train the brain to better recall what needs to be done every day.
In the classroom, giving the ADHD child a set schedule and sticking to it will help them feel less anxious about what is expected from them.
If this weekly routine can be written down for them to reference, it will help eliminate worries about forgetting something important.
Kids with ADHD have trouble sitting still, exhibit impulsive, distracting behavior, and have trouble focusing or paying attention; all of which can make them very difficult to teach.
But with up to 12% of the school-age population diagnosed with this condition, it’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there are many ways for you and their teachers to help your child thrive. With your help, and the support of professional educators, your ADHD-brained child will be able to find success at school.