Seven Tips for Creating an ADHD-Friendly Classroom

What if every student in your class felt ready, willing and able to work? Even the distracted and annoying kids who never seem to be paying attention. Well that’s me, and I want to share with you seven things for teachers to know for successfully teaching kids with ADHD in the classroom.

1. Freedom – Students with ADHD need the freedom to move or walk around the classroom and a chance to have quiet conversations with a friend.

Thingies for students with ADHD

These are some of the Thingies I use in class.

2. Thingies – For times when quiet classroom work is required, it helps students with ADHD to use thingies. These can be any small quiet toy that an ADHD kid can play with in their hands and not distract others.

3. Motivation – Kids with ADHD thrive in the classroom when they are motivated. Incentive programs are great if the prizes don’t suck and are worth the hard work the kids put into earning them.

4. Relationship – I prefer when teachers build a positive relationship with me, I like it better when we can be buddies instead of enemies.

5. Organization (but…) – The ideal teacher for a student with ADHD is organized but is still a little crazy. The organization helps a lot with not losing the student’s work and having a good day plan; but the little crazy means they still leave time for fun & creativity.

6. A Little Crazy – The crazy makes the class fun and entertaining. The teacher who is only calm, baking cookies in their spare time and being like a grandma from Mars, makes class time too much like nap time. It’s just too hard for the ADHD student to stay engaged.

7. A Long-Term Outlook – A key thing about work ethics and students with ADHD is that they rarely co-exist peacefully. Figure out your student’s work habits and help mend the broken ones. However, I think it’s important to do this over the long-term instead of trying to solve the problem instantly. Hey, a broken leg doesn’t heal overnight & neither do broken work habits.

It’s not like teachers get a lot of training for dealing with ADHD in the classroom, and I know they already have enough to deal with. That’s why I wish teachers would get taught more about ADHD from the beginning. Some teachers really try but fall short because they don’t understand how to work with ADHD. For instance, a teacher might try to use a lot of props and colourful stuff around their classroom, hoping this will involve students more, but this doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for the kid with ADHD to settle in and get something out of their class time.

I’d love to see some discussion on what’s worked best for you when teaching students with ADHD in the classroom. The goal is not just to get through the class without trouble, but to get an education and a great future.

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