For Teachers

What Can a Teacher Do?

The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) offers recommendations for teaching children with ADHD.

Teacher helping student with classwork at the beginning of the new school year
An elementary age student getting help on an assignment from their teacher.

Sharon Russell watched Josh struggling in class. She could tell that Josh had ADHD, just as she could tell that the student squinting in the front row needed glasses. After so many years of teaching, you begin to recognize these things.

What Can a Teacher Do?

Treat any case of ADHD as you would any other suspected student health problem. Report the symptoms and suggest that the student see a doctor. That’s what you would do if the child had a sore throat. You wouldn’t hold a conference telling the parents that they have to have the kid’s tonsils removed.

Hopefully the parents will seek treatment. But, even if they don’t, there are still some simple classroom accommodations that you can make for this child. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) makes the following recommendations:

  • Reduce potential distractions. Always seat the student who has problems with focus near the source of instruction and/or stand near student when giving instructions in order to help the student by reducing barriers and distractions between him and the lesson. Always seat this student in a low-distraction work area in the classroom.
  • Use positive peer models. Encourage the student to sit near positive role models to ease the distractions from other students with challenging or diverting behaviors.
  • Prepare for transitions. Remind the student about what is coming next (next class, recess, time for a different book, etc.). For special events like field trips or other activities, be sure to give plenty of advance notice and reminders. Help the student in preparing for the end of the day and going home, supervise the student’s book bag for necessary items needed for homework.
  • Allow for movement. Allow the student to move around, preferably by creating reasons for the movement. Provide opportunities for physical action — do an errand, wash the blackboard, get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, etc. If this is not practical, then permit the student to play with small objects kept in their desks that can be manipulated quietly, such as a soft squeeze ball, if it isn’t too distracting.
  • Let the children play. Do not use daily recess as a time to make-up missed schoolwork. Do not remove daily recess as punishment.


[Learning to Follow Instructions]