My child has ADHD, how do I help?
Children who are diagnosed with ADHD are eligible to receive accommodations in the classroom setting. Simply put, accommodations are implemented to remove the barriers which are preventing these children from learning and performing to the best of their ability. ADHD can drastically inhibit a child’s ability to attend to material, sit still and follow through on complex assignments. The type of accommodations implemented are individualized for each child depending on their symptoms and academic strengths and weaknesses. It is vital that parents work closely with teachers and administrators to create the optimal learning environment for their child. Accommodations for children with ADHD in the classroom setting range from changing the classroom set up, providing extra-support on assignments, or assisting the child with organizational skills.
Many children with ADHD tend to day-dream in class or become distracted by other students or items in the classroom. Accommodations to prevent these behaviors from occurring include:
- Having the child sit in the front of the class. In this way, the teacher can keep a closer eye on the child and the child will be less likely to look out the window or space out in the book
- Minimize distracting items in the classroom. For example, teachers can have minimal displays on the wall or put away classroom toys and games during lessons. In this way, children have less competition for their attention during lessons.
- Have the child take tests in a separate room. For a child with ADHD, he or she may be likely during tests to become distracted and focus on the other students. When tested separately, the child is in a less distracting environment and will be more likely to perform to the best of his or her ability.
Children with ADHD struggle with organization and inattention and may have difficulties completing complex assignments and sustaining attention. Accommodations to promote children’s academic success on assignments include:
- Breaking bigger assignments into smaller assignments. A child with ADHD may become overwhelmed when presented with a four-step problem and be unable to proceed. For this child, it may be helpful to have the assignment broken down into four mini assignments.
- Extra time on assignments. Children with ADHD may be unable to complete work in the allotted time frame due to their difficulties with attention. With additional time to complete assignments, these children are able to adequately display their knowledge without being penalized for their ADHD symptoms.
- Shorter assignments. Especially for younger children struggling with hyperactivity, it may be beneficial for teachers to assign shorter homework assignments. For example, if a class of students needs to answer ten-word problems, the child with ADHD may be provided seven-word problems to complete.
- Instruction clarification. It is highly important that teachers check in with the child with ADHD to ensure that he or she understood the directives. In this way, the teacher can clarify any aspect that may have been confusing.
Many children with ADHD struggle with executive functioning which includes skills such as organization, problem solving and time management. Children with ADHD can benefit greatly from teachers implementing assistance in areas of organization such as:
- Assistance in note taking- Teachers can provide students with ADHD a template to take notes on or check over their notes after classes. In this way, students can learn the most efficient ways to take notes to learn the material and perform well on tests.
- Separate binder/ folders for subjects. It is not uncommon for students with ADHD to have their papers flying everywhere or utilize one notebook for all subjects. At the beginning of each school year, teachers can assist students with ADHD in how to separate materials for each class. In this way, children with ADHD will be likely to hand in assignments on time and better hold on to their work.
Finally, accommodations for children with ADHD must address their distractible nature and symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Students with ADHD may require frequent breaks or periods of time where they can stretch and move around. Examples of accommodations include:
- Breaks – Children with ADHD may benefit from having breaks after assignments or several breaks throughout a lesson. In this way, students will be able to attend and not fixate on when they can take the next break.
- Child as helper- Having a child with ADHD as a helper automatically boosts the likelihood he or she attends to the lesson. A child will be less likely to be distracted by other stimuli if he or she is passing out papers or reading for the class.
- Stretching breaks- Teachers can implement stretching breaks between each subject for the entire class. In this way, children are able to relax, recuperate and remain energized for the day.
Provide your child with the tools to succeed!
The accommodation options listed above can allow your child to attend, complete assignments and perform higher on exams than he or she has before. Children with ADHD are programmed to be more distractible and have a more difficult time attending, sitting still and completing assignments than children without ADHD. The aforementioned strategies can improve self-esteem, self-efficacy, and academic performance in children with ADHD. With the proper resources and accommodations, children with ADHD have the ability to complete assignments, attend in class and contribute to the classroom in a meaningful way.