Seven things for building and ADHD friendlier classroom

Believe it or not us ADHD’ers can be comfortable and productive in your classroom. We just need to make a few easy  tweaks and everyone will be way happier. I even mentioned some of my tips for teachers during the pandemic.

Here are six things for teachers to know for building a classroom that supports students with ADHD.

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

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

Motivation – Kids with ADHD thrive at school 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.

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

Organization (but…) – The ideal teacher for someone 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.

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.

A Long-Term Outlook – A key thing about good work habits and kids with ADHD is that they rarely co-exist peacefully. Figure out your student’s work habits and help mend the broken ones. Like put a pencil box full of pencils in the class somewhere so when they forget they can just go over and get them and the only thing they have to remember is to ask their mom to refill the box once in a while. 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, 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 in your classrooms. I myself have created a list of things for teachers to remember and turned them into flashcards so always have them on hand. 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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