Smoother Transitions for Success at School

When switching activities throws kids with attention deficit off balance, these tips will help them stay steady through times of change.

A teacher stands in the classroom in front of two children. Assigning buddies can help ADHD students transition between activities.

Students with ADHD find it hard to end one activity and begin another in the classroom. Many of them also have problems in settings outside the classroom — the playground, cafeteria, hallways, and bathrooms — that have less structure and supervision. Here are some great strategies to ease students through times of change and transition:

1) Communicate clearly when activities will begin and when they will end, and give specific instructions about how students are to switch to the next activity.

2) Train students to respond to specific auditory signals — a musical sound or a noise, a clap pattern, a word or a phrase — to signal changes of activity.

3) Set a timer and reward students for a quick, quiet transition. If they are ready for the next activity when the timer goes off, praise them or reward them — the first to line up for recess or the cafeteria earns a "table point."

4) Assign a buddy or peer helper to assist students who have difficulties during these transitional periods and out-of-classroom activities.

5) Greet students at the door as they enter the classroom. It helps calm them down for the next new task.

Adapted from How to Reach and Teach Children with ADD/ADHD, Second Edition, and The ADD/ADHD Checklist, Second Edition, by SANDRA F. RIEF, M.A.

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