Teaching Strategies for Students with ADHD

by | Dec 28, 2022

Teachers play a critical role in learners’ development socially, emotionally, and intellectually. They define students’ cognitive growth through support, accommodation, and reinforcements.

However, the teaching strategies for students with ADHD may vary from typical education. ADHD learners have special needs and require additional effort to learn social skills, follow instructions, and abide by rules.

The condition is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD students have challenges paying attention due to their high susceptibility to distractions. They may also experience impulsiveness, creating difficulties in decision-making and cognitive development.

On the other hand, hyperactive learners are difficult to control as they often need more time to play or engage in distractive activities affecting others in the classroom. As a result, teachers must employ specialized teaching techniques to accommodate these individuals and improve their lives at school and in other settings.

Dos and Don’ts for Teaching Students with ADHD

Teaching students with ADHD requires adequate knowledge of the condition. The teacher should develop sufficient awareness of the common triggers of hyperactivity and causes of distraction.

This knowledge is critical when creating a teaching plan.

What to Do When Teaching Students with ADHD

1. Acknowledge that the learners have neurological reasons for their behavior and cognitive deficiencies.

2. Understand that these students may be inconsistent, but they can accomplish tasks and follow rules

3. Be understanding, consistent, and flexible

4. Acknowledge that a teaching plan is a live document that requires constant adjustments and improvements

5. Constant reminders can improve ADHD learner’s ability to follow instructions

6. Keep a positive attitude and involve other stakeholders in planning and teaching processes

What Not to Do When Teaching Students with ADHD

  1. Do not yell or tell the students what not to do

2. Do not stop searching for methods of improvement and accommodation

3. Don’t focus on the past

4. Don’t assume the learners understand the effects their behaviors have on themselves or others

Five Useful Strategies for Teaching Students with ADHD

Now that you know what you should and shouldn’t do while teaching students with ADHD, here are some useful strategies to implement in your own classroom. Remember, every student is different and your teaching should be tailored to their needs.

1. Minimize distraction

ADHD patients are easily distracted, causing impulsiveness and inattention. Teachers must eliminate possible distractors by positioning the affected learners in front of the class and away from the windows and doors.

You should also remove sources of disruption, including noise and toys.

One of the best ADHD strategies for teachers is a rule-based environment. Teachers should encourage collaboration and democratic decision-making.

They should engage their students in developing simple classroom rules and other activities to maximize consistency. The rules also regulate behavior by establishing routines and forcing all students to stick to them.

As a result, the classroom becomes more organized.

The teacher should also maintain simplicity in giving instructions. Being direct and clear illustrates the significance of the instructions and eliminates confusion.

As a result, ADHD students can notice consistency and avoid conflict. This rule applies to all levels of communication, including direct social conversations with the learners.

The teacher should maintain eye contact, showing the student the need for attention.

One can also complement verbal communication with visual cues to improve clarity. 

2. Utilize scaffolding strategies

Scaffolding is one of the most effective teaching strategies for students with ADHD. It involves setting up regularity and consistency through the teaching plan to increase attention span and eliminate distractions.

Establishing a routine helps improve the learners’ coordination and attention in classroom tasks due to familiarity. However, scaffolding implies using improvisational techniques to support the learning process.

Sometimes, the teacher can provide simplified assignments or spend more time with the ADHD students to ease their learning. Giving tips for coursework improvement to ADHD learners instead of direct assistance can improve their cognitive abilities by challenging them to analyze instructions critically.

3. Encourage, reward, and support

Learning how to teach students with ADHD is a process that requires years of training to perfect. Teachers need psychological support and knowledge to improve their ability to manage learners with special needs.

One of the best ways of encouraging learners to take up more challenging tasks is through social support and affirmations. The teacher should recognize improvements and offer rewards, demonstrating that good deeds are associated with better outcomes.

By adopting behavioral classroom management, teachers can encourage positive behavior with rewards.

Another strategy is a daily report system that records behavior and includes stakeholders in reviews and assessments. These strategies discourage negative actions and promote responsible ones.

Teachers sometimes collaborate with therapists and school-based psychological services to improve the learning environment and incorporate evidence-based ADHD management strategies.

4. Research and utilize accommodation techniques

Educational techniques for ADHD are based on the need for accommodation. ADHD students have neurological challenges affecting their functional capacities and behavior.

As a result, teachers must adopt and develop steps to accommodate these learners to ease their learning and eliminate common challenges in their transition to normal lives.

Accommodation implies focusing on the important issues in the learners’ psychological well-being and making necessary adjustments to improve their stay at school.

Teachers can accommodate ADHD students by acknowledging their weaknesses and developing strategies to improve their performance. 

Accommodation strategies include:

  1. Additional time during tests, exams, and presentations in class and groups
  2. ADHD-tailored instructions, including mapped coursework and visualized content
  3. Incorporating technology such as computers to improve the learning environment
  4. Including breaks between lessons to improve attention and reduce distraction
  5. Additional training for time management, organizational skills, and decision-making
  6. Adopt flexible and suitable seating arrangements in the classroom
  7. Allow different approaches for demonstrating mastery of a concept. For instance, ADHD students can express themselves in a foreign language or using diagrams.

Organizational training at school is usually included in ADHD treatment, with stakeholders collaborating to improve the students’ learning environment. The learners are taught time management, planning, and material handling.

They are also involved in lesson planning for social support and cognitive development.

Communication is an important part of any ADHD treatment. The teachers play critical roles in communicating change and feedback for the learner’s performance.

As a result, they help the students overcome the need to overindulge in activities reducing hyper-focus and resistance to change. Accommodation also extends into task development and instructions.

The teachers should communicate instructions clearly, avoiding repetitive tasks or tests. They should also avoid lengthy assignments and allow sufficient time for mastery of complex ideas. 

Wishing you much success when teaching your students with ADHD. They may require a different approach to learning, but when you find the sweet spot of what helps them attend and understand, you’ll be so grateful for the outcome!