Teachers: Have you ever had a lesson plan that didn’t work the way you wanted it to? Maybe it’s because you planned the lesson for yourself. It would have worked fine for someone who learns like you do, but it wasn’t effective for struggling learners. Do you have a student who wrestles with simple assignments? Does he act confused or oblivious when you speak? Does it seem as if he’s been blindfolded, spun around, and asked to perform while receiving too much information from a cheering, well-intentioned crowd? Here are several strategies for making things easier for ADHD/LD students in your classroom.
Explain Figurative Language
As you guide your students through a task you’ve assigned them, they may appear baffled by something you said, such as “keep your head on straight.” If a student doesn’t know that expression and interprets it literally, he may become concerned that his head might come off. Explain what you mean when you speak figuratively. If a child is very distractible, your figurative words may cause him to miss the lesson plan. Develop the lingo that you wish to teach with, and be sure your students understand it as well.
Show and Tell
Show and tell is not just for students. When introducing a new topic, it isn’t enough to talk your student through it. You need visual aids. Make a zipping motion with your hands when telling him to zip up his jacket. Point to the object you want him to retrieve. Use a laser pointer every once in a while to direct his gaze where he needs to look and focus.
When your students receive instructions, show them what you want by doing it yourself, or have a peer demonstrate what to do. Students with ADHD do best when auditory and visual information are presented together. Give an example they can follow. Even if the student missed part of what you said, he may succeed by watching you demonstrate.
Work As a Team
Your ADHD student may be totally disinterested in a topic and clueless about the “planning” of a lesson. You can change that by including him. Get him thinking by asking him how long he thinks it will take to get the job done.
Let your student come up with ways to demonstrate what is on the lesson plan. Perhaps he could find a YouTube video that shows what you are teaching about, or he might develop an experiment or project the class could do. An ADHD student prefers short tasks and might become overwhelmed by complication. You should remain in control of the subjects and material, but involving the student will help him stay engaged.