Finding and Encouraging Strengths of Children with ADHD in the Classroom
It can be challenging to teach children with ADHD. Their unique brains are not always well-suited for traditional classroom strategies and tasks, and it is difficult to accommodate these differences in a classroom of non-ADHD children! As such, it is always important to remember some areas of child strengths (or resiliency factors) to seek out and encourage as they try to comply to the requests and standards that can be such a challenge for them:
Intelligence: Children with ADHD are frequently of average to above-average intelligence. Unfortunately, many of them (and their parents!) easily forget or disregard this strength as it is overshadowed by missing assignments, poor test scores, or behavior problems. Finding a child’s unique intellectual abilities and using them to encourage their learning is important!
Creativity: Children (and adults) with ADHD are oftentimes skilled at thinking outside-of-the-box and applying their knowledge in new and creative ways. Offering a child with ADHD opportunities to problem-solve and create in the classroom can more readily engage them in the learning process.
Activity level: Although it can be frustrating in the classroom, hyperactive behaviors can be a wonderful gift for a child with ADHD. You can utilize and encourage this gift by allowing children to run notes to the office, take time to stretch, or quietly fidget with something small at their desk.
Desire to Please: We have found that even the most oppositional children with ADHD generally want to do well and gain recognition from their parents and teachers. However, their ADHD symptoms sometimes make this goal feel impossible. Allowing children with ADHD to succeed and experience positive reinforcement in tasks at school will help to decrease the likelihood that the child learns to dislike school or think of him or herself as a poor student.
We appreciate how much can be expected from a teacher…from the school administration, parents, and the community. Our goal is to simplify, rather than complicate, the educational process for BOTH the teacher and the student.
That means helping them understand a particular child’s needs in the most manageable way possible. The teacher may have years of experience teaching ADD or ADHD students, or they may have experience raising a child with ADHD. They may know, then, that no two cases of this disorder are alike, beyond stating that it interferes with student’s ability to learn. If the teacher is facing the challenges of an ADHD student, they know some help and guidance would be nice. We want to work with them to develop uncomplicated strategies that will help the student with all facets of his or her academic life, including in their classroom.
It is not abnormal for students to fidget in their seats or to experience difficulty staying on task. However, some ADHD students are not able to control their impulses and concentration on their own. They need therapeutic and sometimes medical help, along with ADHD-friendly environments. While we cannot expect the school to change the overall environment of the classroom for each “special” student, there are ways to help ADHD children to better navigate the structure of their learning environment. Our staff wants to hear your school’s concerns about the student.. We will work with all individuals involved to select and prioritize the problems, understanding the “extra effort” everyone is making in working with students who are sometimes challenging.
The Affinity Center may also work with the family, to help analyze their child’s difficulties. This will give parents the tools needed to be able to communicate what events may trigger, reinforce, or maintain the student’s problem behavior. All involved will need to follow through on mutually agreed tasks, so the student understands the level of cooperation and teamwork that is being put into place for their benefit. The Affinity staff may visit the classroom (as circumstances allow) to see what strategies would work best for both the teacher and the student. We may also visit the student’s home to assist the family more effectively in tapping into their child’s personal resources.
The Affinity Center’s team of therapists, physicians, and consultants work together to help children and adults with ADHD realize that they can live highly productive and successful lives. We want to work with you to help students integrate structure and positive study habits into their day-to-day lives so they can build the confidence and self-esteem every child needs.
Of course, individualized recommendations for teachers come from our psycho-educational and psychological evaluations. With a family’s permission, the clinicians at The Affinity Center are always glad to aid the student’s teacher(s) with creating and implementing educational plans tailored to the child’s unique needs and strengths.