How to promote better classroom behaviors
Nearly one in ten kids has ADHD, which means practically every classroom in America will have one to three kids with the disorder in them. That’s a lot of impulsivity, distractibility, hyperactivity and organizational/planning issues in one room. It’s also a lot of potential for behavioral challenges, conflicts and concerns, creating a perfect storm of issues for kids with ADHD and ADD—and the teachers responsible for educating them.
The ability to filter out sensory input is both innate and learned. Children with ADHD haven’t learned how to be selective about what comes in so it all comes in—the hum of the overhead lights, the birds outside, the truck driving by, their classmate kicking their chair, the teacher talking, the scent of uneaten lunches in the cubbies and the reflection of the light on the aquarium. And most if it goes right out because it does not get put into your ADHD child’s long-term memory. Your child really doesn’t know what the teacher just told them to do. They want to know, they tried to know but it didn’t stick. Unfortunately, when it’s filled up with birds, fans, wet coats, and shadows, what the teacher wants you to pay attention to gets squeezed out.
What’s more, the brain selects what comes in based on survival value. Say a fox emerges from his den and looks around. He knows the trees and grasses around him but the hawk overhead and the mouse nearby are new. Which will he focus on? Not the food, but the threat. He will wait until the hawk has passed before going for his breakfast. Now imagine this is a child and he can’t tell which is which. This will increase his anxiety so even less input comes in, causing decision-making to become reactive. The end result is that your child just wants to get out of there. Not a good state for learning, is it? 1
The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) makes the following recommendations for class room accommodations:2
Reduce potential distractions. Always seat students who have problems with focus near the source of instruction and/or stand near student when giving instructions. This accommodation will help the student by reducing barriers and distractions between him and the lesson. Always seat this student in a low-distraction work area in the classroom.
Prepare for transitions. Remind the student about what is coming next (next class, recess, time for a different book, etc.). For special events like field trips or other activities, be sure to give plenty of advance notice and reminders. Help the student in preparing for the end of the day and going home, supervise the student’s book bag for necessary items needed for homework.
Allow for movement. Allow the student to move around or fidget, preferably by creating reasons for the movement. Provide opportunities for physical action—do an errand, wash the blackboard, get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, etc. If this is not practical, then permit the student to play with small objects kept in their desks that can be manipulated quietly, such as a soft squeeze ball, if it isn’t too distracting.
Let the children play. Recess can actually promote focus in ADHD children so don’t use it as a time to make-up missed schoolwork or as punishment as you might for other students.3
With this information we come back full circle to where and what causes ADHD. Around the time of puberty, the frontal part of the cortex of the brain matures, allowing individuals to perform higher-level tasks like those required in executive function. Think of executive function as what the chief executive officer of a company must do — analyze, organize, decide, and execute. It follows naturally that someone with issues with executive functioning may have problems with analyzing, planning, organizing, scheduling, and completing tasks at all — or on deadline. 4
We are here to help. Play Attention was developed to deal with these kinds of difficulties in the executive functioning areas of the brain through the development of cognitive skill sets. To learn more, peruse our website and check out our cognitive games.5 Play Attention integrates feedback technology with cognitive skill training and behavior shaping. You may learn more about Play Attention at one of our upcoming Speed Webinars6, they are designed to accommodate every ones’ busy schedule!
*Learn more about appropriate IEP/504 plans for students with ADHD.: Learn more about appropriate IEP/504 plans for students with ADHD.