Teaching a child with ADD/ADHD: Tips for parents and teachers
One of the most important aspects of teaching children with ADD/ADHD is to know your student. All children learn in different ways. Discerning which teaching methods work best with your ADHD student will make his chances of success greater. Use combinations of teaching methods and monitor the progress rate from each method.
It is important to be imaginative when using any instruction method. Maintaining the attention of the student will be difficult if a lesson is droned on in a monotone. If lectures need to be a major part of the instruction of your subject, be sure to change the tone of your voice often. Using clipped and precise informational sentences will be of help also. The ADHD student tends to “wander off” after only a few words. Make those first words count, then change the tone, cadence or strength of your voice. Experiment to see what brings the student back to focus on you.
Use pictures, drawings and illustrations regularly with any form of instruction. In the use of overheads and other lecture aids, remember that it may be difficult for the student to go from one to the other fluently. Note taking is equally difficult for many of these students as it calls for going back and forth between listening, writing and reading. If possible and feasible, make copies of notes instead of having the student take their own. It will be easier for him to hi-lite important sections of the notes than for him to write them out. Learn what techniques work for him.
There are many facets of the ADHD student. Some show all the traits of attention deficit, some only a few. Nearly all will have issues with organizational skills, time management and motivation. Color coding lesson plans and important information may be very helpful to some. Putting things on “lists” with priorities and time-lines may be helpful to others. Teaching these students is, at first, trial and error. As you work with them you will better understand what works best with each student and what makes them get moving in the right direction.
Depending on the age of your student, it may be very beneficial to discuss his disability and what its frustrations are to him. Talking to your student and LISTENING when he responds can lead to a very enabling relationship between student and teacher.
Most ADHD students are very intelligent people. Some score very highly on state aptitude testing only to obtain mediocre, if not failing grades, in their everyday school environment. It is imperative that these students be graded according to their accomplishments as much as possible. Homework is always an issue and, if possible, should be kept to a minimum. Forgetfulness, central auditory processing issues, executive function issues must all be taken into consideration when “grading” an ADHD student.
By and far, the most important aspect of teaching ADHD students is to aid them in keeping a higher self-esteem. They are smart kids but can’t always show it in the way other students do. They need room to do things the way that is best for them. There was once an old saying, “If you care for something, give it room enough to grow”. If we really want to help our ADHD students we need to adjust to their ways of learning instead of demanding that they adjust to our way of teaching.
Teaching the ADHD student: It can be done. It can be done well. And the end result will make you proud to have been a part of it!