As the diagnosis of ADHD becomes more and more prevalent there are increased numbers of ADHD students in the classroom. This has led to many challenges for parents, teachers and students. These challenges are not insurmountable but do require a bit of creativity and flexibility to overcome them.
Children and adults with ADHD have the most success with treatment protocols when they are approached using a team of practitioners, including the family. The same holds true for students with ADHD in the classroom. If parents, students, teachers, teaching aids, principals and counselors are able to come together to form a plan for classroom behavior then the success rate for improved behavior increases.
Parents and teachers must come together to work as a team for the good of the child. This should never be set up as an adversarial relationship where parents are afraid of that next call from the teachers or receive reports from their child that the child was placed out in the hallway for forty-five minutes at a time because the teacher didn't want to deal with the behavior of the child.
Students with ADHD are often disruptive, not because they want to be, but because their inability to control their behavior causes them to be. Many times, the student is just as frustrated by their behavior as the teacher and the parents. But there are things that can be incorporated into the plan that will increase the success rate of these students and decrease the frustration level of the teachers.
Children who suffer from the symptoms of ADHD need more structure and very clear expectations of their behavior. Some students also benefit from structured therapy.
The difficulty in parenting and teaching students with ADHD shouldn't be downplayed but it shouldn't be seen as impossible either. The children are often in a constant state of activity and may have trouble understanding directions so the structure of the classroom may have to be changed a bit to help the child.
For instance, the schedule for the day at school can be posted on the wall and handed to the child so they have a clear expectation of what is happening each day. If the teacher expects to deviate from the schedule she should give the child ample time to accommodate to the change. The amount of time needed for the child to adjust is dependent upon the individual child. There are some who can adjust in a matter of minutes while the teacher may find that others need at least an hour before their behavior stabilizes.
Write down the classroom rules and outline the results if they aren't followed. Give these rules on paper to the child and help them refer back to the list when a rule is broken. NEVER degrade a child in front of their peers if a rule is broken by making them seem different than their peers.
Be sure that any directions you give the child or classroom is completely understood by the child. Have the child meet your eyes and repeat the directions back to you. These directions should be specific, simple and short.
Always reward and recognize good behavior. Too many times the only time children receive our attention is when they are bad. Children who suffer from ADHD learn quickly that the only attention they may receive is when they are disruptive, and since they know how to do that behavior well it may be the only behavior you see in the classroom.
Children with ADHD also benefit from the focus placed on the effort and not necessarily on the grades, especially in the earlier school grades. Recommend that parents set a homework routine. Teachers should also develop a means of communicating with the parent each evening about the homework, the expectations and the date the homework should be delivered.
Communications between teachers and parents should be ongoing and consistent and shouldn't wait until there is a problem before communication is initiated.
Using these techniques, plus others that may work best in the child's individual circumstances, will help to increase the success rate that ADHD students in the classroom may expect.
HelpGuide: ADD/ADHD and School
National Association of School Psychologists: Helping the Student with ADHD in the Classroom
FamilyEducation: The Best Classrooms for Children with ADHD
PsychCentral: Classroom Adaptations for ADHD Students
Washington University: What are the Typical Accommodations for Students with ADD/ADHD