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What Can Teachers Do To Help a Child with ADHD?

Learn how you can adapt curriculum, promote on-task behavior in the classroom, and provide additional educational support for children with AD/HD by reading this article.
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What Can Teachers Do To Help a Child with AD/HD?

Whether your child receives services under IDEA, Section 504, or another program designed to help students with special needs, it is important that the intervention be tailored to meet your child's individual needs. One size does not fit all. Work with the school to identify the nature of your child's special needs and to design an educational program suited to those needs.

In addition to the core interventions described in the previous section, there are a number of other educational interventions that can potentially help students with AD/HD. This section looks at some of the more common interventions, modifications, and adaptations.

Select a Supportive Teacher

Try to place the student with teachers who are positive, upbeat, flexible, and highly organized problem-solvers. Teachers who praise liberally and who are willing to "go the extra mile" to help students succeed can be enormously beneficial to students with AD/HD.

Adapt Curriculum and Instruction

Provide more direct instruction and as much one-on-one instruction as possible.

Use guided instruction.

Teach and practice organization and study skills in every subject area.

Lecture less.

Design lessons so that students have to actively respond-get up, move around, go to the board, move in their seats.

Design highly motivating and enriching curriculum with ample opportunity for hands-on activities and movement.

Eliminate repetition from tasks or use more novel ways to practice.

Design tasks of low to moderate frustration levels.

Use computers in instruction.

Challenge but don't overwhelm.

Change evaluation methods to suit the child's learning styles and strengths.

Provide Supports to Promote On-Task Behavior

Pair the student with a study buddy or learning partner who is an exemplary student.

Provide frequent feedback.

Structure tasks.

Monitor independent work.

Schedule difficult subjects at the student's most productive time.

Use mentoring and peer tutoring.

Provide frequent and regularly scheduled breaks.

Set timers for specific tasks.

Call attention to schedule changes.

Maintain frequent communication between home and school.

Do daily/weekly progress reports.

Teach conflict resolution and peer mediation skills.

Provide Supports to Promote Executive Function

To support planning:

  • Teach the student to use assignment pads, day planners or time schedules, task organizers and outlines
  • Teach study skills and practice them frequently and in all subjects
  • To increase organization:

  • Allow time during school day for locker and backpack organization
  • Allow time for student to organize materials and assignments for homework
  • Have the student create a master notebook-a 3-ring binder where the student organizes (rather than stuffs) papers
  • Limit number of folders used; have the student use hole-punched paper and clearly label all binders on spines; monitor notebooks
  • Have daily and weekly organization and clean up routines
  • Provide frequent checks of work and systems for organization
  • To improve follow through:

  • Create work completion routines
  • Provide opportunities for self-correction
  • Accept late work
  • Give partial credit for work partially completed
  • To improve self-control:

  • Prepare the student for transitions
  • Display rules
  • Give behavior prompts
  • Have clear consequences
  • Provide the student with time to de-stress
  • Allow doodling or other appropriate, mindless motor movement
  • Use activity as a reward
  • Provide more supervision
  • Memory Boosters

    To assist with working memory:

  • Focus on one concept at a time
  • List all steps
  • Write all work down
  • Use reading guides and plot summaries
  • Teach note-taking skills-let the student use a study buddy or teacher-prepared notes to fill in gaps
  • List all key points on board
  • Provide summaries, study guides, outlines, and lists
  • Let the student use the computer
  • To assist with memory retrieval:

  • Teach the student memory strategies (grouping, chunking, mnemonic devices)
  • Practice sorting main ideas and details
  • Teach information and organization skills
  • Make necessary test accommodations (allow open book tests; use word banks; use other memory cues; test in preferred modality-e.g., orally, fill in blank; give frequent quizzes instead of lengthy tests)
  • Attention Getters and Keepers

    For problems beginning tasks:

  • Repeat directions
  • Increase task structure
  • Highlight or color code directions and other important parts
  • Teach the student keyword underlining skills
  • Summarize key information
  • Give visual cues
  • Have the class start together
  • For problems sticking with and finishing tasks:

  • Add interest and activity to tasks
  • Divide larger tasks into easily completed segments
  • Shorten overall tasks
  • Allow the student choice in tasks
  • Limit lecture time
  • Call on the student often
  • Reprinted from National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) Briefing Paper, Revised Edition, April 2002. Contact NICHCY at P.O. Box 1492, Washington, DC 20013-1492; phone: 800/695-0285 or 202/884-8200 (Voice/TT).

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