Strategies for Teaching Students with ADHD
Both teaching and learning have evolved over the years. From students sitting at a desk and soaking in as much instructor-shared information as they can, to independent learning, creative and critical thinking development, and freedom to access knowledge on demand via the internet. The educational partnership between student and teacher has changed. Along with our changes in adaptive teaching methods, has come the realization that there are many, many different learning styles; and we must accommodate our students as best we can to ensure that they are succeeding. One important learning style that must be accommodated are students with ADHD.
What is ADHD?
ADHD, as described by WebMD, is an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Disorder, although medically correct, can be harsh on young students. Some may prefer to look at it as a ‘different way of seeing the world’. ADHD can cause children to be hyperactive and impulsive.
Teaching Students with ADHD
There are three main categories we need to look at when finding accommodations and solutions to teach children with ADHD, they are: Physical Environment, Instructional, and Behavioural.
Classrooms must be organized. Although visuals are very important for a student with ADHD, too many visuals can be overstimulating. If the walls are filled and there’s every piece of artwork hanging from the ceiling, it can be distracting for the student. Certain visuals however are important, such as daily schedules, tasks, and key words. When choosing seats, students with ADHD should sit close to the teacher for maximum focus and easy access to one on one support!
Students with ADHD should be given a breakdown of tasks that need to be completed. For a project, have them complete one task at a time as it is more attainable. Visuals are important in this case for them to see what needs to be done; for example, checklists. Signals should be given to begin work, and to stay on task. Modelling tasks are equally as important, not only for students with ADHD but for all students. They must see how to do it before beginning it themselves. Finally, technology can support students with ADHD in many ways, such as using google read and write.
There are several strategies teachers can take in order to support behavioural needs for students with ADHD. Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective strategies to encourage students with ADHD to succeed and complete tasks. Reward systems are effective in combination with positive reinforcement. It is important to be consistent with rewards and reinforcement in order for students to feel its benefits. Finally, they must be held accountable for their responsibilities - they are capable!
Strategies put into place for students with ADHD are of universal design; they can benefit all students. Many of these strategies will be just as effective for students without ADHD - which means success for all!
Blog Piece: Teaching for ADHD