Teaching students with ADHD - HelpGuide.org (2023)


Dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the classroom? These teacher tips can help you overcome common challenges and help kids with ADHD succeed in school.

Teaching students with ADHD - HelpGuide.org (1)

ADHD and the challenges of the classroom

If you're a teacher, you know these kids: the one who looks out the window and replaces her math class with the bow of a flying bird. The one who couldn't keep his butt on the chair when using Krazy Glue. One who answers the question, "What body of water played an important role in the development of ancient Egyptian civilization?" with "Mrs. M, do you dye your hair?”

Students who exhibit the typical ADHD symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity can be frustrating. They know the intelligence is there, but they just can't focus on the material you're working hard to deliver. In addition, their behavior takes time away from class and disrupts the entire class.

Students with ADHD can:

  • Demand attention by speaking out of turn or moving around the room.
  • Difficulty following instructions, especially when presented in a list and involving operations that require ordered steps, such as B. long division or solving equations.
  • Often forgets to write down homework, do homework, or bring finished work to school.
  • They often lack fine motor skills, making note-taking difficult and handwriting difficult to read.
  • Has trouble with long-term projects where there is no direct oversight.
  • If you don't pull yourself together when working in a group, it can even lead to a group not fulfilling its task.

Think about what the school environment asks of children: to sit still. Listen in silence. Pay attention. Follow the instructions. focused. These are precisely the things that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD) have a hard time not because they don't feel like it, but because their brains won't allow it. Of course, that doesn't make teaching any easier.

Children and teens with ADHD often pay the price for their problems with bad grades, scolding and punishment, teasing, and low self-esteem. Meanwhile, as a teacher, you feel guilty for not being able to reach the child with ADHD and eventually receive complaints from parents who feel their children are being neglected in the classroom. But it doesn't have to be like that. There are strategies you can use to help students with ADHD overcome learning difficulties, stay focused without disturbing others, andbe successful in class.

What teachers can do to help children with ADHD

So how do you teach a child who doesn't want to calm down and listen? The answer: with a lot of patience, creativity and consistency. As a teacher, it is your job to assess each child's needs and strengths. They can then develop strategies to help ADHD-focused students stay focused and use their abilities to their full potential.

Successful programs for children with ADHD integrate the following three components:

  1. Accommodations:what you can do to make learning easier for students with ADHD.
  2. Instruction:the methods you use in the classroom.
  3. Intervention:How to avoid behaviors that disrupt concentration or distract other students.

However, your most effective tool for helping a student with ADHD is to have a positive attitude. Make the student your partner by saying, “Let's find ways together to help you with your work.” Assure the student that you will look out for good behavior and quality work when you see them , immediately encourage him with sincere praise. Finally, look for ways to motivate a student with ADHD by offering rewards in a points or token system.

Dealing with disruptive behavior in class

To avoid time-wasting behavior by other students, work out some warning signs with the student with ADHD. This can be a hand signal, a gentle press on the shoulder, or a note on the student's desk. If you must discuss the student's behavior, do so privately. And try to ignore slightly inappropriate behavior when it's unintentional and doesn't distract other students or disrupt the lesson.

(Video) Students with ADHD

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Classrooms for students with ADHD

As a teacher, you can make changes in the classroom to minimize ADHD distractions and disruptions.


  • Place the student with ADHD away from the windows and away from the door.
  • Unless it distracts the student, place the student with ADHD directly in front of your desk.
  • Sitting in rows with the focus on the teacher often works better than having students sit around desks or facing each other in other configurations.
  • Create a quiet area free of distractions to take tests and study in silence.

delivery of information

  • Give instructions one at a time and repeat as necessary.
  • If possible, work on the hardest material earlier in the day.
  • Use visual aids: charts, images, color-coding.
  • Create outlines for notes that organize information as you deliver it.

student work

  • Create worksheets and quizzes with fewer items, take short quizzes more often than long quizzes, and reduce the number of timed quizzes.
  • Test students with ADHD in the way they do best, e.g. B. when speaking or filling in the blanks.
  • Break long-term projects into segments and assign a completion goal to each segment.
  • Accept late work and give partial performance.


  • Have the student keep a main binder with a separate section for each subject and make sure everything that goes into the notebook goes in the correct section. Color-coded materials for each topic.
  • Provide a three-pocket notebook for homework, homework completed, and parental mail (permission forms, PTA flyers).
  • Make sure the student has and uses a system for writing down assignments and important dates.
  • Give the student time to organize materials and homework. Post the steps to get ready for the journey home.

Teaching techniques for students with ADHD

Teaching techniques that help students with ADHD focus and stay focused in their class and work can be beneficial to the entire class.

start a class

  • Signal the beginning of a lesson with an acoustic signal, such as B. a timer, a rattle or a horn. (You can use hints below to show how much time is left in a lesson.)
  • Make eye contact with each student who has ADHD.
  • List the lesson activities on the board.
  • When you open the lesson, tell the students what they will learn and what your expectations are. Tell students exactly what materials they need.

lead the lesson

  • Keep the instructions simple and structured. Use props, graphics and other visual aids.
  • Vary the pace and include different types of activities. Many students with ADHD do well in competitive gaming or other fast-paced, intense activities.
  • Have an unobtrusive notice set up with the student who has ADHD, such as For example, a pat on the back or putting a sticky note on the student's desk to remind them to stay on task.
  • Allow a student with ADHD to take frequent breaks and have them squeeze a rubber ball or hit something that doesn't make a sound as a physical valve.
  • Try not to ask a student with ADHD to complete an assignment or publicly answer a question that might be too difficult.

completion of the class

  • Summarize the main points.
  • When giving a problem, ask three different students to repeat it and then ask the class to say it together and post it on the board.
  • Be specific about what you take home with you.

Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. and Melinda Smith, M.A.

    get more help

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)- Tips and resources for teachers. (Parent Information and Resource Center)

    In the Classroom: Ideas and Strategies for Children with ADD and Learning Disabilities– Suggestions for teaching children with ADHD. (Institute for Child Development)

    Motivating the child with attention deficit disorder– How ADHD symptoms affect classroom expectations and how to realistically motivate a child. (LD Online)

    Step-by-step guide to securing ADHD placement in school- Meet your child's educational needs with ADHD adjustments at school. (Add to)

    IEP content– Guide to developing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with school staff to meet your child's educational needs. (Parent Information and Resource Center)

    (Video) ADHD or Bad Parenting

    Last updated: December 5, 2022


    1. PSA: ADHD in the Classroom
    (Lauren St. Pierre)
    2. How to Treat ADHD [Without Medication]
    (Psych Hub)
    3. Special Education - Teaching Students With ADHD
    4. Helpguide.org
    5. ADHD in Children and Youth: The Basics: Webinar Recording
    6. What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) | Childhood ADHD | Signs of energized ADHD
    (Healthy and Happy by Rehab)


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