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Learning to support your students with ADD/ADHD

What are the primary instructions most teachers have for their young students? Sit quietly and listen. Concentrate on your work. Keep your hands to yourself. While young children in general may have difficulty following instructions, for those suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, these simple tasks may be incredibly difficult. Figures from the American Psychiatric Association show that 5 percent of young children have ADHD, though this number can fluctuate depending on community survey samples.

Students with ADHD have trouble paying attention or can be extremely hyperactive or impulsive. They can also suffer from a combination of each of these traits. This is a chronic condition that can persist into adulthood, which is why teachers must empower these students to succeed, even though they may be disruptive in the classroom. If you are at a loss as how to help your students with ADHD in your room without sacrificing valuable class time, here are a few suggestions to help them focus and keep your students on track for success.

Where are your students with ADHD seated?
If these students are sitting in the back of the classroom or by a window or door, they may have difficulty concentrating on your lessons. Instead of listening to you teach about colors or numbers, they are busy looking at birds flying or people watching through the window. Depending on the age of your students, you may have best-practice recommendations for how your students sit, whether it is in round or long tables or individual desks. To best support your students with ADHD, keep them right in front of you so you can keep an eye on them and easily make sure that they are understanding your instructions.

How are you handling disruptive behavior? 
Create a couple of warning signals that will help your students know when their behavior is becoming disruptive. Putting a hand on their shoulder or other gestures could be effective for every-day occurrences. If an episode is more severe or ongoing, work with the students, school administrators and parents to create a plan about what to do in these situations. For example, another teacher could take them to a private area to calm down and re-focus. Just providing variety in these students' lives may help them succeed.

Are you afraid to over-accommodate these students?
While you don't want to impede their ability to learn on their own, you should make their academic lives easier within your classroom. Providing students with ADHD with "distraction-free" work spaces, extra time to finish assignments and being more understanding when they have trouble sitting still or listening carefully, are all excellent ways to support them without showing overt special treatment.

At ProSolutions Training, we offer plenty of online child care courses for early childhood education professionals interested in learning more about their field. Contact us today to learn more!