Children and young people with ADHD need predictability, structure, short work periods, more individual instruction, positive reinforcement and an interesting curriculum. Building a positive relationship with the student will also ensure more successful outcomes. This article gives more detail on how to meet this need.
Planning and structuring the lesson:
- Work from the students’ strengths and interests i.e. focus on what they can do not what they can’t.
- Make students active participants in their learning.
- Make learning FUN.
- Divide lessons into short, clearly defined sessions.
- Reduce expectations of seat work and use alternative ways of task completion.
- Discreetly build in movement breaks e.g. errands, messages.
- Set a variety of tasks and activities, where possible include a ‘hands on activity’.
- Give one task at a time and monitor it.
- Make direction clear and concise; maintain eye contact during instruction – avoid multiple requests.
- Make sure the student understands before beginning task – if necessary, repeat in a calm and positive manner.
- Help child feel comfortable about asking for help.
- Allow extra time for tasks – a child with ADHD may need help for longer than an average child so gradually reduce assistance.
- Plan ahead for transition times – count down to transition times.
- Minimise changes in schedules – give plenty of warning when changes are about to occur.
Provide structure through lists, timetables, timescales, prompt cards and such as these :
- This is the work you MUST do
- This is the work you SHOULD do
- This is the work you COULD do
- Avoid unnecessary pictures or visual stimuli
- Use large type on handouts
- Ensure white space on each page
- Only one or two activities per page
Managing the environment
- Seat student near the teacher keep other students out of view.
- Avoid always sitting at the front as this could be seen as punitive.
- Provide good role models – facilitate peer tutoring, mentoring and cooperative learning.
- Avoid distracting stimuli – away from doors/windows, heaters, computers. (see below). Consider whether being seated near a window may actually help (some benefit as it’s a better alternative than focusing attention on their peers!)
- Create stimuli reduced area.
- Provide alternative environments for some tasks and activities.
- When taking turns in a group, use a timer to set limits.
- Remind the students before they speak to give one sentence only.
- Remind the students to put their hand up if they want to talk, encourage pupils to stop and think before talking – this will help a child with ADHD.
– Try and work out main distractors (auditory, visual, kinaesthetic, internal).
– Look at ways in which these distractions can be prevented.
– Make sure that tasks are as interesting as possible.
– Match tasks to the child’s ability – present challenge but not so difficult that the child is defeated.
– Monitor progress and provide frequent encouragement as the work develops.
– Remove nuisance items – insist all materials stay in bags, drawers or in desk tidies.
– Allow pupil to doodle/make notes/mind maps when listening.
– Provide something to ‘fiddle’ with particularly in seated situations with lengthy listening – keeping hands busy can help the child listen and focus.
Set basic rules at the outset of the lesson for use of the concentrator: sanctions for misuse.
– Developing an appreciation of time is difficult for children with ADHD, they have a limited sense of time management regarding a learning activity.
Egg timers are really useful to indicate how long is left in a task and as a means of tracking length of concentration and allowing points for each minute on task.
– From ‘Successfully Teaching and Managing Children with ADHD (nasen spotlight)‘ Fintan O’Regan
Supporting Learning Behaviour
- Build a positive rapport and relationship with the student.
- Simple, easy to follow code of conduct explained visually.
- Display classroom rules and routines that are written in a positive way.
- Provide ample opportunities to earn tangible rewards.
- Set up a positive behaviour recording system where realistic and measurable targets are linked to rewards for success. Daily reward system that extends to home.
- Provide verbal and non-verbal praise.
- Selectively ignore inappropriate behaviour.
- Use non-verbal responses to low-level nuisance.
- Have positive expectations – explain what you want the student to do not what you don’t.
- Use ‘thankyou’ rather than ‘please’ – language of expectation.
- Be consistent, firm, fair and patient – appreciate and accept that the child cannot help her/himself: her/his behaviour is not prompted by naughtiness.
- Allow ‘time out’ if required to move/de-stress/breathing/relaxation.
- Monitor progress regularly throughout the lesson.
- Be calm and assertive.
- Give warning of consequences of poor choices.
- Pupils with ADHD have a clear sense of what is unjust and just so be consistent.
- Use a simple, easy to memorise hierarchy of sanctions.
- Apply sanctions as near as possible to the event.
- You can download an example of a behaviour recording system in Word format Example of a behaviour recording sheet
- ADHD foundation www.adhdfoundation.org.uk
- ADDISS www.addiss.co.uk
- National Autistic Society – Autism and ADHD www.autism.org.uk/ADHD
- YOUNG MINDS youngminds.org.uk/find-help/conditions/adhd-and-mental-health/