You might have one or two students in your class with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They’re likely bright and awesome, but they probably also face some challenges—leaving their seat in the middle of a lesson or struggling to finish homework. To create a truly inclusive classroom, you may need to lean on a few tips and techniques to help these students overcome any learning barriers. In honor of ADHD Awareness Month, we’ve found 4 classroom inclusion strategies that just might help all your students.
1. Just Move It, Move It
Most students struggle with sitting at a desk for large chunks of the day, but it’s an extra challenge for those with ADHD. The answer? Build some physical movement into your classroom schedule. Take a group stretch—or dance!—break for a few minutes. Or if you’re a yogi, maybe lead your class in a few simple standing poses.
Other options: Flexible classroom seating automatically builds in extra opportunities for students to move around. And simply allowing students to stand at their desks rather than sit may help with focus. One study even found that sitting on therapy balls instead of chairs helped students with ADHD stay in their seats and complete assignments.
2. Climb Mountains in the Morning
Try tackling the hardest lessons and tasks with your class early in the day. Some students with ADHD may struggle more with focus as the day goes on, so it might be helpful to do tough tasks first thing. Climbing those mountains early on can also help build a sense of accomplishment and momentum as you move through easier activities in the afternoon. We suspect this particular classroom inclusion strategy might just help teachers as much as the students.
3. Turn Time into a Friend
Focus can be a big battle for students with ADHD, so consider investing in the Time Timer MAX™ to break things down into manageable bites. Hang this over-sized timer—17×17 inches for easy viewing!—on the wall or set on the shelf in the front of the room. Then set it for 5 minutes and give the whole class a clear, concise task. Work on writing this paragraph until the red disk disappears. Read this novel until the 5-minute time period is up. Eventually, you can try stringing together multiple 5-minute periods with 1- or 2-minute breaks in-between. It’s about making time more visual, tangible and approachable.
4. Be Predictable
Sometimes inclusion in the classroom is about the basics. Structure and routine can be a big help for students with ADHD. Take a second look at your classroom schedule and see if there’s a way to make it even more clear and predictable. For starters, try posting it on the wall where everyone can see it—bonus points if it’s visual! You might even try asking your students for feedback on the classroom schedule and ideas for improving it. Do they need more time for transitions? What do they like most about the current schedule? And least?
While these tips are a great jumping off point for a more inclusive classroom, it’s important to remember that every kid with ADHD is different. A technique that works for one student may be a flop with another. You’ll need to embrace flexibility and positivity until you find what works for your students.