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Basic ADHD instructional strategies

ADHD children each have unique needs and an inventory of needs should be made early in the year to help the teacher direct their teaching. At the same time, course content must be delivered to the entire class, proving to be a challenge to the teacher.

The driver of the class is, of course, the curriculum. Delivery will need to be formed around the class makeup and in the case of a class with ADHD students, accommodation will need to be made, both in terms of delivery and the physical setting.

When presenting material, it will be useful to bear in mind that ADHD children have difficulty with transitions and prefer structure. This applies in many different scenarios, both in presentation and simply in the timing and pacing of classroom activities.

To help ADHD children in this, it will be useful to begin a lesson or topic with an overview of what they can expect. This will condition them so that when it comes it’s not totally new and unexpected.

Likewise, when presenting new concepts, an example in the form of a concrete illustration or anecdote will help hold their attention, before moving on to abstract discussion. The student will be in a better position to relate the later abstract discussion with the earlier concrete example, than launching directly into the theory.

The “5 minute rule” often helps. When a transition is approaching, such as the end of the lesson, a change in activity, etc., give 5 minutes advance warning. This will lessen the impact of the change and the expectation of the approaching change will become less of a transition and more of a flow.

Since ADHD children each have their own characteristics, it will help to keep a record of how the student has reacted to presentation and to take note of their learning style. Many ADHD students are visual learners, but in any case noting the learning style will go a long way in lesson planning and holding their attention.

When it comes to classroom accommodations, the important thing is to avoid distractions. Keep classroom doors closed if possible, and seat the student near the front, where other students and their antics are less visible.

At the same time, some ADHD students may benefit from a change of pace every 10 minutes or so. A teacher-led change can provide the mental respite their restless brain needs, which is better than simply losing focus. The student can be given some short activity to do, perhaps an errand or small task, after which they will find it easier to return to the learning task.

These and other tactics can go a long way to helping ADHD students stay on track and learn. The challenge to the teacher is to systematize these activities and incorporate them into her daily work. A systematic analysis of the lesson plan, application of the student’s cognitive profile (learning style, existing knowledge, particular skills), followed by keeping records of methods used and what worked, setting goals to be achieved and monitoring success, will develop into an effective and ongoing plan to successfully managing ADHD children.

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