Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) is a condition that can make it very difficult for a student to sit still, control their behavior, and pay attention. Therefore, school can be difficult for students with ADD/ADHD as success in school depends on being able to pay attention, and control behavior and impulse. Students with ADD/ADHD are very capable of being successful in school given the right kind of environment. Teachers can make a world of difference for these students and help them achieve by implementing certain adaptations or interventions.

The purpose of this document is to offer strategies, tips, and ideas to school personnel to help students with ADD/ADHD experience success in school and reach their potential.

  • Praise is so very important for students with ADD/ADHD and shouldn’t be understated. Praise can be an incredible motivator to help students focus and pay attention.
  • The use of multi-sensory activities can enhance any lesson for ADD/ADHD students. These students are often kinesthetic learners and any hands-on activity using manipulatives, computers, or audio/visual materials can help these learners process information more effectively.
  • It is important to strategically position ADD/ADHD students in an area of the classroom where there will be minimal external stimuli. For example, try not to seat them near doorways or windows where they could be easily distracted. It is often very helpful to place these students next to someone who is a good role model.
  • Incentives often work well with ADD/ADHD students. These students are often very competitive and incentives can help to motivate them.
  • One way teachers can support ADD/ADHD students is to provide them with methods and tools to help them organize themselves such as the use of daily planners, assignment folders, or checklists. It is important to establish routines for object placement so that homework and assignments are completed and returned. This can also include helping these students maintain an uncluttered workspace.
  • Students with ADD/ADHD have a difficult time paying attention in a whole group, classroom setting. Therefore, when directions or instructions are provided to the class as a whole, they often only retain a portion of what is stated. By providing follow-up directions individually to these students, you can be assured they receive all of the information.
  • To the extent feasible, the more individualized the instruction can be for the students, the better they will perform. Focusing on a child’s strengths, and developing strategies for their weaknesses, can greatly enhance performance. Students with ADD/ADHD have different ways of learning and retaining information. Often, individual strategies tailored to each student are needed to master a skill.
  • Providing ADD/ADHD students with feedback is also very helpful. Eye contact or other discreet cues to stay on task can be very effective.
  • Many ADD/ADHD students need a quiet atmosphere in order to concentrate. It is important to monitor the noise level at times when peak performance is expected, such as during testing.
  • Cooperative learning strategies work well with ADD/ADHD students. When assigning a buddy or classmate to work with these students, try to use those students who are role models and can demonstrate the type of behavior and work ethic desired.
  • Routine, structure, and consistency within the classroom are very important for ADD/ADHD students. They will perform much better if there are consistent practices and routines in place within the classroom.
  • It is important for teachers to develop an organized method of communicating with the parents of students with ADD/ADHD. Conferences, informal visits, telephone calls, emails, and newsletters are all ways in which teachers and parents can regularly communicate about how the student is doing both at home and in school.
  • Break down large tasks into smaller tasks. Long assignments can be very overwhelming to ADD/ADHD students and may inhibit them from even trying to complete the assignment.
  • Whenever possible, provide advance warning for time remaining to complete assignments or when long-term projects are coming due. Another tool is to provide a brief overview each morning of what the day will look like. Students with ADD/ADHD do better when they know what to expect.
  • Students with ADD/ADHD are easily distracted. Try to remove all nuisance items from the work area to help them focus on completing assignments. Rubber bands, pencil sharpeners, etc., can capture their attention for extended periods of time causing them to not complete their assignment.
  • Students with ADD/ADHD are poor self-observers and often have trouble picking up on social cues. Teachers and parents can help by providing positive feedback.
  • Students with ADD/ADHD often suffer from low self-esteem. Parents and teachers should find ways to boost their self-esteem and make them feel successful on a daily basis.
  • Many articles on ADD/ADHD reference the importance of exercise. Provide regularly scheduled breaks and opportunities to exercise and release energy.
  • Above all, maintain high expectations for ADD/ADHD students. Our high expectations can contribute to a student’s success.

Learn more: 7 Signs of ADHD, from Healthline