Teaching Strategies for ADHD Children


  1. Maintain eye contact when giving instructions. If the child isn't looking at you, he is not really hearing you.
  2. Develop a signal that will be your special code that you desire his attention. You will need it not only in the classroom, but when you are out in public.
  3. Gently touch the shoulder or rub the back to help them refocus. This works wonders in calming their nerves and helping them to concentrate.
  4. Use color to catch attention. Colored chalk, markers, highlighters, papers you don't want them to lose.)
  5. Organize their workspace. Clear off their work areas of ALL distractions. (Yes, that pencil topper is a distraction as well as 20 sheets of paper when they only need one.)
  6. Use positive reinforcement and behavior modifications.
  7. Reduce lag time by always being prepared before you begin the school day. If you have to hunt for something or do something before proceeding into another subject, you've lost their attention. You will have to regain that and that is not always easy. By the way, just because they are looking at you and shaking their head in agreement doesn't necessarily mean you have their attention.
  8. Allow them five seconds of wait time before beginning to talk once you do have their attention.
  9. Organize their notebooks. Give assignment sheets that they can mark off. Give them calendars of all upcoming events so they can prepare for them. In our house, the rule is, "If it isn't in writing, you didn't tell me."
  10. Write assignments down for the student. Don't just tell them based off the same rule in item 9.
  11. Teach the child to write a daily "things to do" list. If they are too young, have them to do a pictograph "to do list."
  12. Set up ROUTINES. Do the same things at the same time each day. Set up specific time slots for doing subjects Starting school today at 8 and tomorrow at 11 will doom you to failure. (Trust me, I know from experience.) Have a bin for turning in completed papers. Routines become things that are automatic and do not need valuable concentration energy.
  13. Have a weekly reorganization time to clean desk, work areas, and rooms.
  14. Teach consistent standards such as headings on paper, dates, skip lines, begin numbering, etc. This works with rooms as well. Drawer a is for socks, drawer b for sleepwear, etc.
  15. Make sure all worksheets and tests are dark copies, double or triple spaced, and easy to read. In other words, they don't look cluttered. Also, limit your use of worksheets and written tests.
  16. Teach to all learning styles. One third of all students are auditory and over 60% learn better with tactile-kinesthetic approaches (hands-on learning in layman's language.) Traditional teaching is primarily all visual.
  17. Use the computers as much as possible.
  18. Allow a choice of paper for math. Regular paper, graph paper, or regular paper held sideways so problems can be worked using the lines are all alternative choices.
  19. DO NOT give timed tests. It will not create speed for this child. It will, however, create chaos and mental meltdown.
  20. Highlight processing signs, color dot the ones column to remind students where to begin, give only one page and one assignment at a time.
  21. Don't teach sitting all the time or standing in one spot. Move around and speak with passion. Catch their enthusiasm by demonstrating some of your own.
  22. Let students stand, walk, and stretch often.
  23. Tell instructions once and always have the child repeat back to you.
  24. PRAISE them often. They know they struggle at times. They don't need to be told that, but a little praise will lighten up their whole day.
  25. Don't be mastered by grades. If your child doesn't correctly answer something, ask them again tomorrow. If they missed an answer on a paper, asking them orally. If your child truly doesn't know the answer, teach it again.
  26. Teach outlining and underlining to your students. This is one of those coping skills they will use throughout their whole lives.
  27. Wait 10-15 seconds when asking your child a question. Yes, it does seem awfully long at times, but it sometimes takes that much time for them to sort through all the stimuli to give you an accurate answer.
  28. Ask questions like, "Do you know what you just did?" to help the child think about their actions. If their action was negative, model for them what is acceptable.
  29. Target only a couple of behaviors at a time to work on. Anything more will be too overwhelming.
  30. Start the day with physical activities such as PE, house cleaning, or yoga stretching.
  31. Teach test taking skills and memory devises. They won't come naturally to your child.
  32. Tell children what you are going to say, say it, tell them what you've just said, and then write it down for them.