Strategies on Improving Academic Performance in Children with ADHD
The truth is, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a growing problem in children in the United States that makes it hard for teachers to adequately teach these children in an effective way. What exactly is ADHD? It is a brain-based medical disorder that affects the behavior of people across age, gender, intelligence and socio-economic lines (Strauss, 2016). It’s a chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. According to CHADD.org, the US Census Bureau estimates 1,795,734,009 people were aged 5-19 in 2013. Thus, 7.2% of this total population is 129 million, a rough estimate of the number of children worldwide who have ADHD. The rate of this diagnosis increased from 7% in 1997-1999 to 10.2% in 2012-2014 and has continued to rise. Children with ADHD have difficulty at school, they often get yelled at, lose recess, get put in time out, get detention, or get a phone call home. When the children get home they may get punished from the behavior they exhibited at school (Wise, 2016). To improve academic performance in children with ADHD, teachers need to put forth their best effort to develop strategies that will help these students focus, stay on task and learn to their full capabilities; this will allow the children to succeed in their education.
The Ritenour School district has Special Education Services (SSD) available to the children with disabilities only if they have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or have been diagnosed with a disability through the Disabilities ACT. The problem with this is, ADHD is not always diagnosed and children are still unable to focus and stay on task in a regular classroom setting. With limited services available for children with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms, children are unable to learn to their fullest capabilities. This causes frustrations between other students who are trying to learn as well as the teachers who are trying to teach the classroom, therefore the teachers need to find strategies to help these children succeed.
A teachers job can be overwhelming, with sometimes 20+ students to manage. Some children may have challenging behaviors that make it hard to teach the class. If each teacher put forth their best effort to find strategies to teach these children with challenging behaviors it may lessen the stress level of the teacher and the classroom as a whole. According to Wise, 2016, the following are some examples of certain strategies teachers can use to support children with ADHD or ADHD-like symptoms:
Some other things teachers can do to hold attention include: add interest to the learning, talk less and do more, use specific directives, set specific rules, make tasks clear, highlight directions and give them one at a time. According to Fowler, 2010, children with ADHD are always paying attention, but what is getting their attention is the question. Their minds wonder and they cannot stay focused, which makes it harder for them to follow directions. The most important things teachers can do for children with ADHD is make sure they are clear on the rules of the classroom, make classroom routines, give appropriate supervision, allow movement and let them play. This will help them shine in a regular classroom setting.
- If a child has trouble sitting still or staying in his or her seat, they should be given the opportunity to move throughout the day. Opportunities for movement may be:
- Standing up at his or her desk while working
- Walking around the class in a designated area
- Getting up to stretch
- Passing out materials to other students
- Erasing the board
- Running errands to the school office
- Going to the water fountain for a drink
- Incorporating movement into learning activities
- Try to seat the child away from any distractions as much as possible; such as the door, window, or any other talkative children in the class.
- Try to provide the child with small manageable classroom work. Give him or her a small task to complete and once finished allow the child to move or engage in an activity when the task is finished. Allow a 2-5 minute break in-between tasks.
- A sand timer makes it fun to use in the classroom and lets the child know when the time is up and to get on with the next task.
- Teach the child to stay organized, show him or her exactly how to organize supplies and materials accordingly. Supervise and guide the child regularly, as he or she becomes more independent with organization, the less you will have to supervise.
- Use hands-on interactive materials to teach concepts. Children’s attention span increases when they have images and materials to handle and focus on while learning.
Children with ADHD tend to be visionaries, dreamers, explorers, inventors, path-finders, discovers, entrepreneurs, creative types, original thinkers, paradigm breakers, trend-setters, free thinkers, as well as being big-hearted, trusted, generous, and fun (Hollowell, 2016). Finding a way to teach them appropriately at an early age can set the tone for how they succeed in school. Next to parents, teachers are the most influential people in a student’s life. When a teacher expresses to an ADHD student that he or she is capable and worthwhile, the child most likely will believe it. The question is, are the teacher’s doing everything they can to support learning for children with ADHD.
While ADHD has been rising in numbers over the years in children, many teachers and parents still do not understand the condition and all the ways it affects young people at home and at school. Many think it is just children who cannot focus on their work, sit still, or follow directions. According to Strauss, 2016, student achievement suffers because the condition is misunderstood. A survey conducted nationally in 2014 found that nearly 50 percent of mothers of “tween” girls diagnosed with ADHD had at first misidentified the cause of their children’s problems and delayed getting medical help. Unfortunately, some parents are not as pro-active as others, either they are always at work or they simply do not care. If the parent does not get their child a medical opinion or diagnosis on the disorder then the teacher is left teaching a child who cannot focus or listen while in school.
Most of the time, children with ADHD know what they are supposed to be doing, but they lose traction and don’t do what they know. They get distracted, lose track of what they were doing, get restless, or lose materials (Fowler, 2010). If the teacher provides ongoing monitoring and positive feedback for the students, the success rate in their educations will be much higher. Teachers need a resource to be able to utilize and learn new strategies on how to teach children with ADHD. If each teacher were assigned a teachers aid to help in the classroom, this would take a lot of stress off of the teacher and provide extra help for children who need the extra attention. An online resource where teachers from all around the world can communicate and share their strategies and ideas on how to teach children with ADHD would be very beneficial for the teachers. This would be helpful for teachers to vent, share ideas, and just a great place for support in general. Incorporating all of these strategies in each teacher’s curriculum will benefit children with ADHD to succeed to the best of their potential as well as elevate some of the madness in the classroom.
CHADD the National Resource on ADHD. (n.d.). Retrieved May 05, 2018, from http://www.chadd.org/understanding-adhd/about-adhd/data-and-statistics/general-prevalence.aspx
(n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://www.ritenour.k12.mo.us/domain/71
Strauss, V. (2016, February 7). ADHD in kids: What many parents and teachers don’t understand but need to know. Retrieved April 25, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/02/07/adhd-in-kids-what-many-parents-and-teachers-dont-understand-but-need-to-know/?noredirect=on
Wise, R. (2016, December 24). 14 Strategies to Help Children with ADHD in the Classroom and at Home. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from http://www.educationandbehavior.com/strategies-for-children-with-adhd/