Students who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) can be challenging to teach. While most students with ADHD are bright, the issue is trying to reach a child who is constantly fidgeting and has a short attention span. With a little creativity, you can teach students with ADHD in a way that they can "hear" you. Here is how to teach students with ADHD.
- Understand the symptoms of ADHD. ADHD is a disorder that causes a student to have trouble focusing. Students with ADHD feel the need to move around a lot and tend to fidget when other children are able to sit still. Students with ADHD have short attention spans, so they are often unable to remember things that you tell them. While prescription medication is available to help some students with ADHD, those medications come with side effects, such as loss of appetite and insomnia.
- Accept that you must make modifications to teach students with ADHD. Students with ADHD are not trying to be annoying or distracting in a classroom environment. They truly cannot help the fact that their bodies need to move around and that their brains cannot process information in the same way that other students' brains do. The usual methods for running a classroom will not work with students with ADHD.
- Allow liberal freedom of movement. If you insist upon a student with ADHD sitting still for long periods of time, you are going to spend a significant part of your day trying to win a losing battle. Instead, incorporate movement into your lessons. For example, instead of having ADHD students sit down and fill out a worksheet to learn their addition and subtraction, incorporate movement into the lesson. Have students with ADHD manipulate beads to learn their addition and subtraction. If you have the space, write different numbers on the ground and have students with ADHD run to the correct answer.
- Make lessons tactile. To the extent you can, make your lessons tactile so the students with ADHD have something to manipulate physically. This meets the students' need for movement and is more likely to engage students with ADHD longer than reading about or hearing about a lesson.
- Keep lessons short. Students with ADHD have very short attention spans, so do not expect them to sit in their desks or in a circle for 30 minutes. Instead, keep lessons brief, and change gears when you notice that their attention has wandered.
- Write things down. It is very difficult for students with ADHD to remember tasks that they are told. Do not expect students with ADHD to remember to bring home instructions. Instead, send written instructions home to parents, or instruct students with ADHD to write down the instructions and then put those instructions in their book bags.
- Be creative. When you are teaching students with ADHD, you need to think outside the box. Students with ADHD tend to be bright, but you need to be able to pique their interest in order to reach them. With a little creativity, you can teach students with ADHD and help them learn, despite their issues.