Author: Dr. Guanghai Wang,
Clinical Psychologist and Sleep Specialist,
with Ronni Rowland, Writer
ADHD is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders and often involves behaviors that interfere with success at school, so it’s important for teachers to recognize the warning signs. Common signs of ADHD include developmentally inappropriate behaviors related to inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
“School-based interventions are an important element of ADHD treatment,” says Guanghai Wang, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and sleep specialist with ELG. “This includes using effective classroom strategies, engaging in screening procedures, and making appropriate referrals for professional evaluations.”
Here are Dr. Wang’s 11 tips for managing ADHD in the classroom:
1. Task duration
Design brief academic assignments, and offer feedback as soon as possible.
2. Task difficulty
Children with ADHD are more likely to become frustrated and give up when tasks exceed their academic level, and they are more likely to become bored and inattentive with simple tasks. Tailor assignments to match the child’s instructional level.
3. Direct instruction
Teach note-taking strategies. Provide “attention training sessions” to help students recognize important material versus extraneous details.
4. Peer tutors
Pair children with peer tutors who are the same gender, better behaved, and more highly academic. To implement the technique, first train students on how to be an effective tutor, providing academic materials and modeling effective tutoring strategies. Give immediate feedback and award points for correct responses. Each student plays the role of a tutor and a tutee, while teachers carefully monitor the process.
Schedule academic instructions in the morning and more active, non-academic activities in the afternoon.
Create a high-interest learning environment by bolding important elements of written instructions, using brightly colored paper, and integrating animation, films, models, and skits into classroom activities.
7. Provide structure and organization
Use a daily schedule and maintain a consistent day-to-day routine, informing students in advance of changes. Provide lecture outlines or other organizers.
8. Rule reminders and visual cues
Establish rules that are well-defined, specific, frequently reinforced, and associated with clear consequences, and review them often. Clearly post these rules around the room.
Use cross-modal feedback. For example, when presented with a question orally, some students do better when their response options are listed visually.
Minimize distractions by seating a student with ADHD close to the teacher and away from high traffic areas.
Make appropriate accommodations in advance to prevent frustration or behavior problems.
“Recognizing the signs of ADHD is the first step,” notes Dr. Wang. “Then, incorporate effective strategies for managing ADHD into the classroom environment, and you’ll help these students on their way to success at school.”
Appropriate referral will offer access to more comprehensive treatment to manage the aforementioned ADHD symptoms, as well as other present conditions, such as sleep disturbances.