|Parenting and Behavioural Issues
: Strategies for the Older Child with ADHD
The following article is primarily aimed at teachers, however
parents and students should also find it helpful.
It's not surprising that ADHD is usually only diagnosed once the
child starts school - as increased demands on the child's attention
span can make the condition more apparent. ADHD children are not
unintelligent. In fact they are often very bright. But because
they have difficulty staying focused, school performance can be
To a teacher, the child with undiagnosed ADHD can appear to be
a deliberate trouble maker. The child won't listen to the teacher,
won't sit still, blurts out answers without being called on, or
always seems to have his "head in the air." But with
a well managed treatment program in place, the child with ADHD
can prove to be a productive and well adjusted member of the class.
An individualized education plan
Some ADHD children require a highly specialized school environment.
But many can excel in a regular school setting. In either case,
because no two ADHD children are alike, a personalized education
plan is needed which takes into account individual strengths and
weaknesses. Generally, ADHD students do better when given extra
classroom structure, and shorter work periods.
Because ADHD children are easily distracted, school assignments
should be broken down into smaller, less complex units, and encouragement
should be provided as each stage is completed. Questions directed
at the ADHD child should begin with his name, followed by a pause,
to signal the child to pay close attention. Establishing frequent
eye contact, and placing the student in the front row, near the
teacher's desk, can also help. Students should be asked to put
away unnecessary items, and a work area should be provided away
Learning disorders & skills development
The child may also need extra help overcoming any associated learning
disorders, developing social skills, listening skills, and in
task planning, note-taking, and memorization. With appropriate
guidance, pairing the ADHD student with other students can aid
the child's attention to the tasks at hand, and provide invaluable
lessons in group dynamics.
Tests & classwork
In order to more accurately assess the ADHD student's knowledge,
extra time should be given for tests. Another useful strategy
for multi-page tests, is to hand out only one test sheet at a
time. Confidence can be built from the start of projects with
questions the student can successfully answer, and tasks he or
she can easily complete.
ADHD children are more successful when they can see what's coming.
Therefore, they should be given clear and consistent transitions
between activities. Also, an activities schedule should be posted
in the classroom and frequently referred to. Students should be
warned of any change in activities, and be given a preview of
the main concepts to be covered in an upcoming lesson.
Homework assignments need to be clearly stated, then repeated,
at the end of class. Each day, the child should write down a list
of homework which the teacher should check for accuracy. To aid
parent-teacher communications and to help avoid meeting only around
crisis situations, teachers and parents can work together to maintain
a school-to-home notebook, to keep track of homework and other
academic and behavioral objectives.
Like parents, teachers should always be on the look out for, and
acknowledge good behaviour. Older students are usually willing
to work towards deferred rewards, but younger children need more
immediate re-enforcement. So, reminders of success such as stickers,
tokens or progress charts can be useful to offer encouragement.
For everyone's sake, it's important that the child's classroom
behaviour be effectively managed. Clearly communicated rules need
to be set which consistently result in immediate consequences.
Rules ought to be phrased in positive terms of what the child
should do. Posting these rules, reviewing them with the child,
and asking questions to ensure comprehension, will greatly improve
the child's compliance. But focusing on too many behavioral objectives
at once is often confusing and counter-productive - so only a
few objectives should be focused on at a time.
Time-out & planning ahead
While helping the child avoid boredom, the teacher should also
help the child steer clear of over-stimulation. Stressful situations
can often be anticipated and averted before they happen. A time-out
location can be established, which should be used as a place to
calm down - not as a punishment.
In some ways, children know their own learning methods best. So
they too should be asked what they think will help. Besides the
insightful feedback ADHD children can provide, being involved
will encourage them to develop the important skills of self-observation
With an individualized education plan, supportive teachers, and
involved parents, many of the considerable challenges the ADHD
student faces in school can be overcome - and their academic performance
allowed to flourish.
Other Parenting and Behavioural Issues
The information provided in this site is
designed to be an educational aid only. It is not intended to
replace the advice and care of your child's physician, nor is
it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. If
you suspect that your child has a medical condition, always
consult a physician.
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