Riley was lying across his desk today, on top of his teddy bear, with his head and feet completely off the floor. He was in kind of a V shape. He stayed like that for quite a while. I just ignored it. Conner raised his hand and asked, “What is Riley doing?”
He often has his pants pulled up to his knees or his socks rolled down over his shoes. He is usually messing with something or flopped over his desk, or standing or kneeling. He isn’t bad, but does do pesty things, and repeatedly does things after being told not to. I can’t get after him for everything, though, or I’d be on his case all the time. I think Riley has ADHD.
I share this about Riley to give an example of a child whom I thought had ADHD. I noted this in my journal, and talked to his parents about it, and we worked on plans for helping him to learn and to concentrate. His dad later thanked me for identifying this and helping Riley to learn and cope in school.
The following points are ones I shared with our teachers after a child with ADHD spent the weekend with me. I think these points are applicable for teachers, too. (I do not intend to be disrespectful to any person. I love these children with ADHD and hope to help those who work with them.)
Things to remember:
- About ten minutes ahead of time, give notice of plans, and what is going to happen. “At 9:30 you need to get dressed and then take out these bags of trash.” He responded, “Okay.”
- Be consistent! At 9:30, remind him again that it is 9:30 and time to get dressed and then take out the trash.
- Give directions in small steps! At 9:31, I reminded, “You need to get dressed.” His reply was, “Yeah, I know. I don’t like when people say that. It sounds like I don’t have anything on!” (Sub-point: he will take things literally!) I told him, “OK then, get dressed for the day.” I wonder to myself, as I hear loud singing of a hymn, “Is he getting dressed?” I check on him in a couple minutes, and ask, “Are you getting dressed?” “Yep!” Good! I may have to remind him to take out the trash. Oh, he came out of his room, still singing, and wondered where the trash is, asking, “Did you already take it out?” I said, “No, I put it on the deck because I needed to walk through here.” He willingly took the trash out.
- Remember to apply grace liberally! He did get dressed, but the room is a wreck. The trash is taken out—all okay there.
- Check up on everything. I ask, “Did you brush your teeth?” Yep. “Did you comb your hair?” Don’t need to. (It is cut short.) “Did you wash your face?” He replied, “No, I never wash my face in the morning.” I questioned, “Well, do you have gunk in your eyes?” “No,” he says. OK, we’ll let that one go!
This is not a little child. I reminded myself to enjoy the time with him and enjoy his ADHD personality and smile about it. I thought of some of our students and how these same pointers can work for them in the classroom. Not the getting dressed, of course (I hope!) but the advance notice, directions in small steps or broken down, being consistent, applying grace, checking up, and enjoying the person. And, very important, remembering this is one of God’s children and God blessed him with ADHD!
General Advice for Teaching Students with ADHD
- Students with ADHD may benefit from using the computer because they often have difficulty writing.
- The teacher must provide structure: keep the classroom predictable, calm, and organized. Children with ADHD don’t handle change well. They need predictable routines. This helps them feel safe and will often improve their behavior.
- Give a few minutes notice when an activity or location will change
- Reward good behavior. Discourage destructive actions. These children usually respond well to positive reinforcement. They often have negative feedback from others, so make sure to find areas in which you can give positive feedback.
- Remain patient and calm. Speak quietly and calmly.
- Be consistent.
- Teach problem-solving, communication, and self-advocacy skills.
- Monitor their work.
- Give clear directions and expectations. Use visual signs to remind students what to do.
Specific Accommodations for Children with ADHD
- Seat them near teacher’s desk, but still in the regular class seating.
- Seat the child in the front of the classroom, with his/her back to the class.
- Surround them with good role models.
- Avoid distractions such A/C, heater, high traffic areas, doors, or windows.
- Monitor them closely on field trips.
- Have a study area without stimuli.
- Teach study skills.
- Make curricular adjustments as needed.
- Collaborate with parents and other teachers who work with the child.
Many of the ways to help and support a child with ADHD will also benefit the other children in the class. God created these children how He wanted them; they are not an accident. We pray for God to bring to our school those children that He would have to be there, so I believe that the children in my class are placed there by God and I am called to teach them. I want to do this to the best of my ability. We teachers can be that caring person who guides the children with compassion, care, and consistency.
CONTRIBUTOR: Arlene Birt