Parent-Teacher Cooperation

The 3 Rs of ADHD at School: Routines, Rules, Reminders

Never underestimate the power of a teacher who recognizes and harnesses the power of structure, communication, and interactive learning — especially for students with ADHD. Share these 11 powerful ideas with your child’s teacher to help build a lifelong love for learning!

A student pays close attention in class thanks to ADHD strategies for teachers that increased her focus.
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The Importance of Teachers

Parents of children with ADHD, is your child's teacher doing everything to support learning? Teachers often dictate the success or failure of a child's education — particularly if that child has ADHD. Next to parents, teachers are the most influential people in a student's life.

Teachers, here are strategies to establish a supportive, structured classroom that will encourage learning and enforce discipline.

A child with ADHD stands at the board with her teacher
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Post Class Rules

With input from students, establish short, simple classroom rules. State them in positive terms that convey what you want students to do. For example, instead of saying: "No loud talking when you come into class," say, "When you come into class, check the assignment on the board and start working quietly." Or, "Sit down first and then you may talk quietly with your neighbor until I start teaching."

A boy with ADHD watches his teacher write strategies for learning on the chalkboard
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Make Classroom Routines

This ADHD teaching strategy can help all students stay on task. Routines may include: always writing homework on the board, appointing "row captains" who check to see that assignments are written down, collect completed work, etc.

Students with ADHD can check in with the classroom aide at the end of the day to make sure they understand the homework assignment and what's required of them.

A student with ADHD shows another student strategies for learning
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Give Appropriate Supervision

Children with ADHD require more supervision than their peers because of their delayed maturity, forgetfulness, distractibility, and disorganization. Help these students by pairing them with classmates who can remind him of homework and classwork, using student partners to team up on a project, and involving classroom aides as much as you can during and after class.

A teacher calls on a student with ADHD who has his hand raised
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Reduce Potential Distractions

Always seat students who have problems with focus near the source of instruction and/or stand near student when giving instructions. This will reduce barriers and distractions between him and the lesson. During work periods, encourage the student to sit near positive role models to ease the distractions from other students with challenging or diverting behaviors.

A teacher talks to a group of students with ADHD about strategies for learning
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Prepare for Transitions

Help students through transitions at school by posting the daily schedule in the classroom and reminding them 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. At the end-of-the-day transition, have students check their book bags for necessary items needed for homework.

A student with ADHD writes on the chalkboard
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Allow for Movement

Allow the student to move around or fidget, preferably by creating reasons for the movement. Provide opportunities for physical action — wash the blackboard, go to the bathroom, etc. If this is not practical, then permit the student to fidget with a small object kept in his desk, such as a soft squeeze ball. In addition, recess can promote focus in ADHD children, so don't use it as a time to make-up missed schoolwork or as punishment, as you might for other students.

A student with ADHD shows off her A+ grade
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Provide Frequent, Positive Feedback

Students with ADHD respond best to feedback that is immediate. Use positive praise, such as "You're doing a great job" or "Now you've got it." If a student's answer is incorrect, say, "Let's talk this through" or "Does that sound right to you?" It's better to ask questions than to reprimand.

A teacher uses strategies for ADHD learning when teaching math to students
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Provide Visual Reminders

Students with ADHD respond well to visual cues and examples. For instance, demonstrate a skill like essay writing on an overhead projector or on the board. When children get to their independent work, leave key points about a topic visible on the board. Post important concepts the children will use again and again on brightly colored poster board around the room.

Students with ADHD point to locations on the globe
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Increase Active Class Participation

Group strategies include asking students to write their answers on dry-erase white boards and showing them to the teacher, asking students to answer questions in unison (choral response), having students give a thumbs up or down if the answer to the question is yes or no — a level palm, if they don't know the answer.

A teacher uses ADHD strategies to help a student understand money
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Encourage Hands-On Learning

Create learning opportunities for children to experience the subject firsthand. Have students write and act out a play, record an assignment on videotape, or take apart and put together a model of a miniature eyeball when studying the human body.

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