Inattentive ADHD – Classroom Strategies That Really Help
If your child has been diagnosed with Inattentive ADHD, one of the easiest… but most important and impactful things you can do…is to make some simple changes in his or her classroom environment. A Hyperactive child may need help to calm down, sit still, respect the needs of others, control inappropriate impulses, and focus attention long enough to absorb, understand, and recall the lesson. An Inattentive child may need help to stimulate his attention and involvement, re-focus when he catches his mind wandering, follow a complex series of directions, tackle long reading passages and multi-step math problems, and complete exams.
A 504 plan (created with parents, the teacher, guidance counselors or school resource specialists, and possibly a school psychologist), is a customized set of strategies and accommodations targeted specifically to address your child’s issues. But there are also many other effective tricks and tools the teacher can employ in the classroom to help not only your child, but the entire class. Obviously this calls for savvy, consistent and committed action on the part of the teacher. Here’s how you can help make that happen.
Educate and Enroll the Teacher. Make it Easy for them to Help Your Child.
The first week of school, or as soon as you’ve secured your medical diagnosis, have a short private meeting with your child’s teacher. Bring a folder containing: a one page overview of Inattentive ADHD… a summary of any EIP or 504 plan your child may have in place… and a short prioritized list, of no more than 3-5 simple accommodations, that will not bring undue attention or embarrassment to your child, but will help him or her do their best in class. Explain that you don’t expect the teacher to shortchange the other students in any way, and that this might also help other kids in the class who are suffering silently with the same problem. Most good teachers will appreciate a list of easy-to-implement ideas that they can use, as they see fit, to improve student retention and performance.
The things that helped my son the most were: sitting in the front of the class near the teacher… breaking down long directions, reading selections, or assignments, into smaller chunks or modules… keeping all his schoolwork in one place or binder… being given more time on tests… and being allowed to take standardized tests with a small group outside of the classroom. Below are some additional ideas you can share with the teacher that may benefit your child.
Classroom Help for Attention Deficit Children
Children whose attention seems to wander or who never seem to “be with” the rest of the class might be helped by the following suggestions:
•Pause and create suspense by looking around before asking questions.
•Randomly pick reciters so the children cannot time their attention.
•Signal that someone is going to have to answer a question about what is being said.
•Use the child’s name in a question or in the material being covered.
•Ask a simple question (not even related to the topic at hand) to a child whose attention is beginning to wander.
•Develop a private running joke between you and the child that can be invoked to re-involve you with the child.
•Stand close to an inattentive child and touch him or her on the shoulder as you are teaching.
•Walk around the classroom as the lesson is progressing and tap the place in the child’s book that is currently being read or discussed.
•Decrease the length of assignments or lessons.
•Alternate physical and mental activities.
•Increase the novelty of lessons by using films, tapes, flash cards, or small group work or by having a child call on others.
•Incorporate the children’s interests into a lesson plan.
•Structure in some guided daydreaming time.
•Give simple, concrete instructions, once.
•Investigate the use of simple mechanical devices that indicate attention versus inattention.
•Teach children self monitoring strategies.
•Use a soft voice to give direction.
•Employ peers or older students or volunteer parents as tutors.
Communicate with your child’s teacher at least once a month to get feedback as to what is working and what isn’t. Fine tune the plan based on that. Lavishly praise your child and credit and thank the teacher for any noticeable improvement. You want them to feel rewarded and appreciated for their extra effort on your child’s behalf. Remember, in most cases, your child spends more time with their teacher than they do with you during the week. Making the teacher your partner is the smartest thing you can do to ensure a successful, happy and productive school year for any child, but it is critically important for a student with Inattentive ADHD.