How to Help Students with ADHD

Being a teacher, you might have come across students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However identifying this disorder is not as easy as it may seem. If the student is easily distracted and shows symptoms such as lack of impulse control, excessive talking, inability to finish tasks, inattentive listening and trouble staying calm, you most likely have a student with ADHD.As a teacher, it is your responsibility to engage every student in the classroom. Students with ADHD can be a bit hard to handle but keeping a few things in mind may help.


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    Seat them to minimize distractions. Students with ADHD should ideally be seated away from the windows and doors to help them remain attentive in class. These students are best placed in the front row, where they can get the maximum attention from teachers.[1]
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    Plan ahead and organize. Draft a schedule or a worksheet and divide the activities so that the child knows how much is done, and what is left. This will assist the child in becoming more organized in the classroom.
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    Keep your advice positive, not negative. Using negative remarks to comment on a student's inability to understand and complete a task can be very demotivating. It is vital that you explain the mistakes to them in a constructive way and let them redo the assignment.
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    Use recognition to encourage good behavior. Recognition is the key. This will help them gain a lot of self confidence and self-esteem. Rewards and compliments are two simple ways to go about this.
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    Take misbehavior seriously. An ADHD student's misbehavior must not go unchecked. If the child misbehaves, steals someone's pencil, etc. you should not just let it slide lightly. Talk to the child immediately and make them understand why their behavior was unacceptable. This will help them learn and give them reasons to avoid it in the future.
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    Make fidget toys available. This may not be a requirement for every ADHD student, but using items such as stress balls might help students concentrate and remain calm. Keep in mind that children who have ADHD tend to fidget a lot, due to lack of impulse control.
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    Get time for physical movement. Students with ADHD may have trouble sitting still. As teachers, you can make a timetable of physical activities to help them cope better. For instance, you could allow them to take quick stretch breaks or go for a 2-minute walk out in the open to get some fresh air.
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    Coordinate with parents. It must be understood that education does not stop at school. Keeping in touch with parents of ADHD children will help you enhance the overall learning process and make amends wherever necessary.
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    Ask probing questions, and let students think. Ask questions after giving students sufficient time to work out the answer to a question. Count to at least 15 seconds before calling on another student for the answer. Keep in mind though that you should try not to ask deliberately difficult questions in front of the entire class. Not being able to answer correctly might result in embarrassment and frustration for ADHD students.
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    Help students correct their own mistakes. Facilitate the learning process by describing how students can correct their own mistakes. For instance, remind them to recheck their calculations in math problems or go through their English essays again to make sure there are no common spelling errors.
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    Use cooperative learning strategies. Divide students into small groups and then assign tasks. Use methods such as Think-Pair-Share, where students are asked to think of a topic, pair up with a fellow student and discuss it.
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    Use assistive technology. All students, particularly those with ADHD, can benefit from the use of assistive technology in the classroom. Computers, projectors and screens make the learning process more interactive and easier to follow.
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    Be patient. This is extremely important when dealing with students with ADHD. They will test your patience by asking you to repeat instructions over and over again. Understand that they are forgetful, and expect you to forgive them for disrupting the classroom decorum at times, etc. Do not overlook their behavior entirely but deal with them patiently.
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    Use visual methods. Using charts, diagrams and color coded text would be more helpful. ADHD students find plain text in black and white boring and monotonous.


  • Allow students to change seats or move around after a while.
  • Be predictable. Sudden changes may confuse students.
  • Don't go too easy. You have to ensure that the ADHD students are making progress.
  • Keep a check on student performance, and make necessary changes for improvement wherever required, and give positive feedback, wherever it is due.
  • After giving out oral instructions, follow up with the ADHD students individually and ask them if they understood the instructions.

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Categories: Teaching Students with Special Needs | Attention and Developmental Disorders