ADHD and Classroom Management
Throughout the previous blogs that I have written, I have mentioned most areas of classroom management. But one area that I haven‚Äôt covered vastly, and I believe it to be an important part of teaching, is children with SEN and or learning difficulties. ADHD is a common learning difficulty in schools all over and can be delicately nurtured in easier ways than you think, so don‚Äôt feel scared or threatened!
ADHD stands for: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder‚Ä¶ but what is it?
According to the NHS‚Ä¶ Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Common symptoms of ADHD include: a short attention span or being easily distracted. restlessness, constant fidgeting or overactivity. being impulsive.
How can a child with ADHD affect the classroom balance?
When a child finds it difficult to concentrate during class time, he/ she may have an urge or tendency to distract. Whether it may be to distract the teacher or to distract other class members, let us not forget as teachers, that this is not personal! These can be impulse actions as a result of struggling to keep concentration. The important thing to remember is that the child suffers from ADHD and it is a difficulty that needs focusing rather than being ‚Äòdealt‚Äô with. To put it in finer terms‚Ä¶ do not fly off the handle or highlight every action if an ADHD child if being disruptive.
How can I focus a child with ADHD into my learning objectives and outcomes?
As the NHS pointed out, Children, in fact all sufferers of ADHD can get restless, feel the need to fidget, get distracted easily, and find it hard to keep focused. The key to success in the classroom may be easier than you think:
- Sitting the child out of the comfort zone ‚Äì The aim is to get the child with ADHD sitting next to children they do not usually talk to (that doesn‚Äôt mean sit them next to disliked children). The positives for this are that the child does not need to feel the urge to chat as much to the children surrounding, and yet still feels, and is very much, still included within the class. Negatively, it may encourage the child to call out across the classroom to get the attention from class friends, if this should be the case though, it is a clear classroom distraction rather than a low level disruption, and can then therefore be addressed in a different way. In an ideal world, children with ADHD will have a learning assistant (LA) or a teaching assistant (TA) helping out, but not every school can afford to have such luxuries and extra staff on hand, so as teachers we need to make sure that we can plan lessons so that every child is accounted for.
- Plan the lessons in short chunks ‚Äì The children with ADHD have a low attention span, get restless very quickly, and need to be constantly engaged. If a lesson is planned in short chunks, with minimal teacher talking and more practical learning, I child that finds it hard to keep focused will not have time to lose concentration. Keeping the lesson at a faster pace, without losing the children, will also enable the lesson to be more exciting and vibrant, thus inspiring all children‚Ä¶ so shorter chunks can have an all-round knock on effect.
- Let the fidgets fidget ‚Äì There is nothing wrong with a child fidgeting in class‚Ä¶ just as long as they are showing full attention and the fidgeting does not become a distraction! Let‚Äôs be honest, fidgeting doesn‚Äôt really disturb the class that much, and class members are very sympathetic and understanding to all children that need a stimulant to help them learn. I had a year two lad named Dovidas who could not help but distract other members of the class and even picked items from the teachers desk without prompting, to fiddle with. Having been given a piece of plasticine, he was able to focus his attention on the teacher more, whilst still stimulating his mind (and fidgeting) on the plasticine‚Ä¶ in turn, this eliminated all need for calling out, trying to gain attention, and classes ran a whole lot smoother.
I found this blog on an educational website that suggests 17 various objects that keep the students stimulated whilst in the classroom environment. Some are fantastic and can be used immediately as a trial. Others are a little more drastic and extreme and may be as effective for early years, key stage 1 and key stage 2.
Have a look at the suggestions and see what might work for you‚Ä¶
Research shows that students with ADHD can concentrate better when they‚Äôre allowed to fidget (here’s a link to the study). But what if this becomes a distraction for the rest of the class? We received hundreds of Facebook comments from teachers, parents, and students with great ideas for letting students quietly fidget, and here are some of our favourites
- Squeeze Balls
Squishy balls, stress balls, koosh balls, hand exercisers‚Ä¶ there are dozens of objects that can be squeezed quietly. Teacher tip: make sure that kids use them under their desks for minimal distractions to others. Fun activity idea: fill balloons up with different items (seeds, playdough, flour, etc.) to squish.
Fidgets are small objects that help keep students‚Äô hands occupied. You can buy these on Amazon.com or use objects like beaded bracelets, Rubik‚Äôs Cubes, or slinkies.
- Silly Putty
Silly putty, playdough, or sticky tack can also keep students’ hands occupied.
Tape a strip of the hard side of velcro under the student‚Äôs desk. It gives them something to touch. Many types of objects can work, such as emery boards or straws.
- Gum or Chewable Necklaces
Chewing gum can help keep some ADHD students focused. In no-gum classrooms, necklaces with chewable pieces can also work. You can also wrap airline tubing or rubber bands at the ends of pencils for students to chew.
Doodling can help many students focus, not just ones with ADHD (here’s the research if you’re interested). Some students also benefit if they can draw during storytime or a lesson.
- Background Noise/Music
A fan in the back of the room can help some students focus. Letting them listen to music on headphones (as long as it doesn‚Äôt interfere with what‚Äôs happening in class) can also help. One teacher had success with an aquarium in the back of the room — the students liked hearing the calming swish of the water.
- Chair Leg Bands
Tie a large rubber band (or yoga band) across both front legs of the chair for students to push or pull against with their legs.
- Bouncy Balls
AKA yoga balls, stability balls, or exercise balls. These are potentially great for all students, not just ones with ADHD.
- Swivel Chairs
Kids can twist a little bit from side to side. A rocking chair also works.
- Wobble Chairs
Similar to swivel chairs or disk seats, these chairs let students rock within their seats. Teacher tip: don‚Äôt let students wobble too much, or they may fall off!
- Disk Seats
These sit on a chair and allow students to rock in their seats (without being as dangerous as rocking the entire chair). Cushions can also work.
- Standing Desks
Great for all students, not just ones that need to fidget. Learn how students brought standing desks into their classroom in this Edutopia community post: Using Stand Up Tables in the Classroom. If it‚Äôs within your budget, you can also use treadmill desks.
- Desks with Swinging Footrests
A built-in footrest can help reduce the noise that would otherwise happen with foot tapping.
- Stationary Bikes
Putting a stationary bicycle at the back of the classroom is a great way to help students be active, with the added benefit of exercise!
- Classroom Space for Moving Around
Clear an area in the side or back of the room to let students stand, stretch, dance, pace, or twirl. If you‚Äôre brave, you can set up small trampolines for students to jump on.
- Flexible Work Locations
Students don‚Äôt have to do their learning at their desk. One student did his work at the windowsill, while another moved from one desk to another. Having different learning stations can benefit all types of students. For ideas on setting up your classroom, check out this post: 7 Learning Zones Every Classroom Must Have.
Which do you find works best for you? Why not let us know at 1st note education.