Tools For Teachers And Parents Of ADHD Children
By Shannon Pluke of Counselling You
•To avoid repetition, the male form of ‘he’ will be used, without prejudice to female adders.
The following is an excerpt from my book ‘Paper, Rock, Scissors’ which assists parents and teachers with their children/learners in the Classroom.
“For the Teacher:
Preparing in advance for children who have ADHD is perhaps the most pertinent step to avoiding potential frustrations and misunderstandings. There are plenty books which are useful in explaining the symptoms of ADHD as well as helpful resources on the internet. If you are not already familiar with ADHD, becoming so will no doubt add value to your teaching.
Within the first few weeks of the new school year, teachers are likely to point out who the Adders are in the class. This then needs to be reported to the school counsellor who in turn contacts the parents. This is where working together becomes priority, however, without causing the child to feel as though he or she is suddenly being put under the spotlight.
One of the fundamental problems that teachers face with Adders, is realising their inability to sit still for longer than a few minutes and the impending disruption to other learners. The worst thing a teacher can do is give the Adder a consequence or call out their name, highlighting their ‘misdemeanour’, causing that painful spotlight to shine on them. The teacher is merely setting him/herself up to lose the battle. Adders need to be dealt with individually. A gentle but firm talk with the Adder, explaining what is expected from him will be far more successful. Let the Adder know that when for example a yellow pencil is held up, that this message is directed at him to focus and be still. A weekly reward for efforts to this end will produce even better results.
Once ADHD has been diagnosed by moving the process through the necessary channels, the teacher needs to sit in private with the parent/s and work on a strategy where the child knows that teacher and parent will work together as a team. For e.g. certain allowances may need to be made to assist the Adder, in turn he will need to apply himself. An excellent example is to allow the Adder to run an errand which breaks the monotony of the lesson for a short while. In return he needs to make a concerted effort to focus and sit still for the remainder of the lesson. Often, restlessness comes from a need to act out the energy that is bubbling beneath the surface. There is no sure fire way to remove this restlessness through telling the child to sit still. This type of response will exacerbate the restlessness and no doubt turn into something worse.
Adders need to sit at the front of the class where less distractions are in his line of sight. Noises in the background will no doubt still cause distraction. Adders need to know in advance and in private, that turning around will receive a first warning, then a second warning and a final warning should the behaviour continue. The final warning will result in a consequence. Adders get distracted, yet cannot be underestimated for their ability to quickly grasp onto patterns of behaviour. And again, although they get distracted, these patterns need to be continuously bolstered in order for them to learn a new behaviour.
It also helps to maintain a classroom that is quiet, noise will be a major distraction to the Adder as well as a bad conductor for the well-being of the remaining class. Keep noise levels to a minimum.
Making regular eye contact with the Adder will keep him interested and feel as though he is being ‘singled out’. Adders love extra attention. Voluminous amounts of tasks given to the Adder to perform will merely overwhelm him and no doubt be poorly conducted, if at all. Being realistic in expectations of work will receive better results. Allow challenges as Adders love being challenged. Instead of saying “you need to complete this by the end of the day” it would be better to say “I bet you can finish this by the end of the day”.
Once again working with the parent is crucial; writing notes to the parent in the homework book on what is expected from the child will keep the parent in the loop as to any progress that is being made. Here is an opportunity for the parent to further encourage the child by affirming him for efforts made.
Please feel free to ask any questions you may have on ADHD in the comments below. Remember reaching out results in half the battle won! Looking forward to hearing from you.
You can read Shannon’s other posts on ADHD by clicking on the links – Breaking the myths of ADHD and How the ADHD brain works and getting inside their world.