12th January 2023
How to support a child with ADHD in the classroom
What is ADHD?
ADHD stands for ‘attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’, and it is a condition that affects people’s behaviour. People who have ADHD can appear restless and may struggle to concentrate on everyday tasks.
The NHS website gives great information if you want to learn more in-depth about ADHD-https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/
What causes ADHD?
The cause of ADHD is unknown, but researchers have found that it does run in families. Scientists have discovered some factors that people with ADHD commonly have:
- Premature birth
- Substance abuse during birth
- Low birth weight
There is no cure for ADHD, but medicine is offered to help battle ADHD. As well as that, advice and support should be offered to people affected by ADHD, to make their lives a little bit easier.
ADHD at school
In 2017, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence said that ADHD affects around 5% of school-aged children – that’s approximately 500,000 children in the UK.
As a teacher its possible you will come across a student with ADHD, so here are three key tips to help support these children:
Build a Strong Relationship with the Child’s Parents
The parents will know their child better than anyone else, so it is vitally important that you have a good relationship with the child’s parents. This will enable you to be able to find out the child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and achievements outside of school- meaning you can build a better relationship with the child. With this information, you know what makes the student happy, sad, angry etc and also what they excel and struggle at. That way you find out what they will focus on and what may be more challenging for them.
Break the workload up and use new techniques
Work that comes in big chunks may overwhelm students with ADHD, causing them to lose focus and go off task, this will then lead them to distract themselves or others. Ways to prevent this from happening are by breaking up the workload. Dividing up lessons and large projects into smaller chunks is a great way to retain the child’s attention and ensure they’re on task, as having a smaller workload means they’re less overwhelmed. Using new techniques is also a great way to keep the student engaged, for example, you could turn the workload into a game or puzzle so they’re entertained, but learning all the while.
Examples of these points being used in the classroom
With teacher Mr Kit Brown – @kjbr0wn on TikTok
After reaching out to local Hertfordshire teacher and TikTok star Kit Brown he gave us an insight into how he has dealt with students with ADHD in his classroom.
As we stated before, Kit was emphatic about getting to know the child, their interests, and what they like and dislike.
He said “Think to yourself, just because they aren’t sat down in their seat or they’re fidgeting doesn’t mean they’re not listening. I had a child in my class whom I would allow to sit on the table (safely) because he found it challenging to sit in his chair because of his ADHD. This was perfectly fine and his learning always got done!” This easy but effective task tackled the problem that Kit’s student faced and ensured the learning still got completed.
After giving us an example of supporting ADHD in his classroom, he addressed other methods of tackling the issues. He asked “what helps them focus? Do they need fidget toys? do they need a table to themselves? do they need a concentration area in the classroom to take their work to?” If so, provide these alternatives as they will benefit the child’s education and your classroom environment.
Kit stated that he always gives tasks to the children in my class with ADHD in short achievable steps. As we learnt earlier, one instruction at a time prevents overwhelming them, meaning they focus on meeting the success criteria in each lesson.
Finally, Mr Brown said, “If needed I would give that child extra time on tasks and even allow them to have brain breaks where they could move around and then come back to the work”.
Hopefully, this article has given a brief insight into how to support children with ADHD in the classroom, implementing these ideas should help the student get the most out of their education and aid teachers with students with ADHD.
Here at Engage, we recruit enthusiastic and committed education professionals to work in our SEND schools and mainstream schools as SEND teachers, Learning Support Assistants (CTA) and teaching assistants. Connect with our SEND Team by registering today!
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