Strategies For Educating Children With ADD/ADHD

Children with ADD/ADHD (hereafter referred to as ADHD) are creative, energetic, imaginative, and resourceful people. They have a wonderful spirit. You wouldn’t trade your child’s personality for the world. But sometimes, there’s school work to be done. Sometimes, you really need your child to sit still. Sometimes you really just want a few minutes of peace. Or is that just true at my house?

Learning doesn’t have to be a chore for the ADHD student. It seems to me to be such a waste to bore these wonderful minds when it just takes a little bit of creativity on our part to keep them going. In my eighteen years of being a parent to an ADHD child, I have learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. I’ve taught public school classrooms with students all over the ADHD spectrum. Some have been medicated. Some have not. Regardless of the severity of their condition or the presence of medication or other therapies, I have found some strategies that really helped my ADHD kids to become better learners.

If you’re reading this article, you are probably already aware of the characteristics and symptoms of a child with Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder. You may notice impulsivity, inattention, hyperactivity, disorganization, hyper-focus, or forgetfulness. You may have noticed these symptoms even before your child was of school age. Then, when he or she starts school, you begin to have your concerns verified when you notice failure to complete assignments in a timely manner, disorganized work habits, or producing messy or careless work. However, school does not have to be a struggle for the ADHD child or the parent.

Some of the strategies I have found to be successful are:

  • Allow for breaks in the lesson or homework. Let the child get up and move around.
  • Ask yourself, is it really necessary for my child to be sitting to do his work? Will he get the same result if I allow him to stand to do his work?
  • Provide as many hands-on activities as possible.
  • Teach to your child’s strengths and talents.
  • Keep things in perspective. Remember that your child is not doing any of these things to misbehave.
  • Minimize distractions. I found that something at simple as asking my son write with a regular pencil as opposed to a mechanical pencil made a huge difference. He liked to distract himself by playing with the lead.
  • Develop a regular routine.
  • Give your student something to hold in her hands while you give instructions. Give her a piece of modeling clay or let her color while you read aloud. She will actually absorb more of what you say when she has something to do.
  • Use a written plan or contract with your child. This gives your child a concrete goal.
  • Place something for them to touch in their work area. A piece of Velcro works well. It provides the student something to focus on and keeps the impulse to wander around at bay.
  • Keep the work area free of mess. A messy area will tend to overwhelm the child. He’ll get the feeling that he doesn’t really know where to start.
  • Use binders for subjects to help your child keep her work organized. Organization is one of the toughest things that ADHD people come up against.
  • Most importantly, be flexible. One of these tips may work one day and not the next. You’ll need to mix things up to keep your ADHD child from becoming bored.

As parents, we know that just because something works with one child, it may not work with another.  It’s always a great idea to keep a bag of tricks on hand. What strategies have you used to work with your children who struggle with ADHD?

Crystal Pratt is an independent contractor with Calvert Education Services. She has been involved in education for 20 years.  Crystal is a certified teacher, a writer, and a lover of all things that sparkle.