Strengthening Specific Skills
At this moment, there is no cure for ADHD. Therapists work with children to help them learn new skills and teachers can help in these efforts by establishing an open dialog with families related to the strategies being introduced at home. This will allow teachers to create consistency between home, therapy sessions, and school. Not every child with ADHD has the same characteristics or challenges, so there is not one simple course of action that will fit each child.
Here are a few things that might fit the needs of the children in your care:
- Proximity – Sometimes, having an adult nearby can help children regulate their reactions or focus their attention. Proximity does not necessarily mean that teachers are hanging over a child staring at them until they complete the task. It could be as simple as sitting at the same table as the child while interacting with other children.
- Visual cues – Some children respond well to visual cues that illustrate the steps of a routine, such as handwashing. In other cases, using gestures like pointing or holding up two fingers can help a child successfully complete a task. Using sign language is another way to add a visual component to communication in the classroom.
- Assist with organization – Sometimes children have big ideas – so big that they are not sure how to get started. Adults can help them organize their thoughts and ideas by asking them questions, helping them create lists, and creating other organizational strategies. For example, if a child has an idea about building a ramp, the teacher could ask them, “What is the first thing you will need to do?”
- Seating – If a teacher is working with children in small groups, they should position themselves in a way that allows them to continue to supervise the entire classroom. This is an opportunity to ask a child who is distracted to sit across from them, facing away from the hustle and bustle of the room.
- Allow for movement – Children who seem to be in constant motion have to move. It is not a conscious decision, it is an impulse. It is going to be easier to allow for movement and integrate even more movement activities than it will be to try to eliminate the movement. Provide lots of movement breaks. Ask the child to run errands around the classroom for you to give them productive and positive movement opportunities. Be sure to modify the schedule to break up long periods of stillness. Early childhood classrooms are active learning environments – long periods of sitting still are not developmentally appropriate.
- Play games that build skills – Many early childhood games require children to use skills associated with executive functions, which include emotional regulation, flexible attention, inhibitory control, working memory, and planning. As you play these games, point out the skills that children are using – “Way to go Marcus! You used your attention skills to find something red on the playground.”
- Develop emotions scripts – A common saying in early learning environments is “Use your words – tell him how you feel.” This is a fantastic practice but it is important to recognize that not all children have the ability to a.) identify their feelings, and b.) communicate them using words, especially in the heat of the moment! For this reason, it is so important for adults to help children become familiar with their emotions and ways to talk about them.
You can learn more about strategies used to support children in the following courses:
- SPN107: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
- CHD111: Explaining Executive Functions
For the main article Supporting Individuals with ADHD, CLICK HERE
For the article Diagnostic Criteria of ADHD, CLICK HERE
For the article Setting up the Learning Environment, CLICK HERE
For the article Supporting Adults with ADHD, CLICK HERE