Up with the Arts! Using Art to Teach Children with ADHD

A sixth-grade teacher shares how she encourages her students — some with ADHD or other learning challenges — to learn using art.

A teacher using arts to teach children with ADHD

Kristin’s First Principles

> Every subject in school lends itself to the arts — through singing, drawing, dancing/moving, and writing. Kids become fully engaged with the material that is being taught.

> A child diagnosed with ADHD learns best when she is able to touch, feel, experiment, and move. Using the arts helps her understand and retain what she learns and transfer that learning to other subjects.

> The arts enhance a child’s individual learning style. A child who learns by using her strengths usually retains what she has learned.


Kristin Leidig-Sears, a seasoned sixth-grade teacher at President Avenue Elementary, in Harbor City, California, uses the arts to stimulate learning in children, regardless of their learning challenges. In her classroom, the arts become a teacher’s aid of sorts for every subject she teaches — math, history, social studies, science, reading, and language arts.

“When you use the arts to teach, learning sticks,” says Leidig-Sears. “The arts help kids visualize concepts and allows them to create concepts three dimensionally through drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, or writing. The arts stimulate all their learning modalities: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.”

When studying rituals of ancient Egypt, for example, Leidig-Sears asks her students to create their own rituals using music. When teaching fractions and ratios, she shows the relationship between fractions and musical eighth notes, quarters, and sixteenths. When learning about the food web, students create murals showing the various methods of feeding connections in an ecosystem.

When studying one of the 10 energy sources, students write original songs, representing the differences of each source. Afterward, they teach their songs to the rest of the class.

“The arts help kids of all academic levels work cooperatively and be excited about learning,” says Leidig-Sears. “Music and the arts are especially important for learning-challenged kids who struggle in school.” For them to succeed, learning must be interactive. They cannot learn, in many cases, by listening to a lecture, but if they are fully engaged in the subject through acting, singing, and drawing, they remember the material.

“Best of all,” says Leidig-Sears, “the arts make learning possible and fun.”


Teaching Preteen Independence Without Hovering
Peg Dawson, Ed.D., explains how to navigate the precarious parent-child relationship through adolescence. Listen now!

Replay This Free Webinar

TAGS: Talking with Teachers, Teens and Tweens with ADHD, For Teachers of ADHD Children

Share your comments, find solutions and support on ADDConnect!
Discuss classroom accommodations, IEPs and 504 Plans, behavior solutions, homework fixes and more on ADDConnect.

Copyright © 1998 - 2016 New Hope Media LLC. All rights reserved. Your use of this site is governed by our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information.
New Hope Media, 108 West 39th Street, Suite 805, New York, NY 10018