This month, students will be returning to school, including the six percent of school-aged children who are affected by ADHD. Children with ADHD, their parents, and teachers alike dread back-to-school, but with appropriate coping strategies, heading back to the classroom can be enjoyable for everyone involved.

ADHD is characterized by difficulties in paying attention, problems controlling impulses, or overly active behavior, all of which can be a challenge in the classroom. Re-framing the issue to look at ADHD at school from a positive perspective can be a good first step to accommodating children with ADHD. Angela Walker, an elementary school principal and doctoral candidate in early childhood education, states that “ADHD is not so much a disorder as a different way of learning.” Teachers can work with this alternate learning style to benefit both children with ADHD and typically developing children.

Walker suggests a number of strategies for teachers who have students with ADHD. The most important factors involve praising students for both good behavior and good work, which is a theme characteristic of “the most effective strategies.”  Teachers who are working to engage children with ADHD can call on the student by name or tap them on the shoulder, develop non-verbal cues or signals, or give students a non-disruptive reason to get up. It can also be effective for students to explain instructions back to the teacher or for teachers to allow students to complete seat-work while standing at their desks.

Parents and caregivers can benefit from these strategies, too. Students who need a place to study and do homework at home could benefit from a standing desk, for example.

Laura Montgomery-Barefield, M.D., associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Alabama, also reminds parents “As with any chronic condition, it is important to partner with a child psychiatrist or pediatrician to ensure that your child receives the best treatment.” She explains that at this time of year it is also appropriate to re-evaluate medication regimes; older students may need additional medication in the afternoon to get through their homework.

Parents and teachers can collaborate to provide a welcoming learning environment for students with ADHD. Under the right conditions, these students can absolutely thrive in an academic setting.

For examples of how iLs works with ADHD, please visit our case studies page.

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