June 2023 Newsletter – Supporting Individuals with ADHD: Setting up the Learning Environment

Setting up the Learning Environment

The environment has a powerful influence on children’s interactions and ability to focus and learn. Imagine trying to concentrate on a detailed task in the middle of a carnival. As an adult, you would likely have difficulty filling out important paperwork if you were surrounded by unexpected noises, people brushing up against you, flashing lights, and hunger pains.  You would probably not perform your best in an environment where you felt criticized, rushed, punished for expressing yourself or expected to do things you just were not capable of doing.

With a little reflection on the emotional feel of the learning environment, it becomes clear that the environment sets the tone for all other interactions and accomplishments. The learning environment includes things like the daily schedule and the arrangement of furniture – but more importantly, it includes the relationships and interactions that occur between children and adults.

The learning environment should be a pleasant, encouraging, and affirming place for young children. Children should feel safe to express themselves, take risks, and make mistakes without fear of harsh disciplinary action. Children should have the autonomy to make choices and opportunities to learn from their mistakes in a safe environment. These are the first elements of the learning environment that should be addressed.

Here is a list of additional things to consider when setting up the learning environment to support all children, including children with ADHD.

  • The flow of the daily schedule – Adjustments should be made to reduce transitions and wait times.
  • The time allotted for activities – The amount of time should allow children to dive into activities and finish tasks, such as eating lunch, without feeling rushed.
  • The materials provided – Access to a wide variety of materials is necessary to ensure that children are engaged in tasks that are challenging, interesting, and engaging.
  • The noise level/distractions in the environment – Steps should be taken to dampen the noise level in the room and seating can be arranged to limit distractions when children are working on important skills.
  • The classroom expectations – Children do best when they understand what is expected of them and classroom rules help them gain this understanding.
  • The way directions are given – Instructions given to the whole group should be modified to meet the abilities of individuals within the group. Not every child is capable of following three-step directions without support.
  • The positive guidance methods used – The way that teachers guide children to safely express their emotions is a vital piece of the learning environment.  Will children make mistakes and test limits? Yes – but how these events are treated as learning opportunities is a big part of setting up a supportive learning environment.


For the main article Supporting Individuals with ADHD, CLICK HERE

For the article Diagnostic Criteria of ADHD, CLICK HERE

For the article Strengthening Specific Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Supporting Adults with ADHD, CLICK HERE