More Classroom Tips for Teachers of ADD ADHD Students

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ADHD Checklist for Classroom Teachers

Physical Arrangement of Room:

Use rows for seating arrangements. Avoid tables with groups of students, for this maximizes interpersonal distractions for the ADHD child. Where possible, it may be ideal to provide several tables for group projects and traditional rows for independent work. Some teachers report that arranging desks in a horseshoe shape promotes appropriate discussion while permitting independent work. Whatever arrangement is selected, it is important for the teacher to be able to move about the entire room and have access to all students.

Have ADHD students seated near the teacher, as close as possible without being punitive. Locate the student's desk away from both the hallway and windows to minimize auditory and visual distractions.

Keep a portion of the room free of obvious visual and auditory distractions. For example, have one area of desks that doesn't have interesting objects hanging over it that invite the child to study them rather than her/his work. Use desk dividers and/or study carrels. Be sure to introduce their use as a "privilege" or pair appropriate carrel usage with reinforcement, so these study aids are not perceived as punishment.

Seat appropriate peer models next to ADHD child. Stand near the student when giving directions or presenting the lesson. Use the student's worksheet as an example.

Provide comfortable lighting and room temperature. Use individual headphones to play white noise or soft music to block out other auditory distractions. Be sure the music is not too interesting so that it becomes a distraction. Introduce headphones as a privilege or pair with appropriate use with reinforcement.

Provide a quiet, carpeted space in the room as a special study section for independent reading.

Lesson Presentation:

Provide an outline, key concepts or vocabulary prior to lesson presentation.

Increase the pace of lesson presentation. Include a variety of activities during each lesson. Use multisensory presentation but screen audio-visual aids to be sure that distractions are kept to a minimum. For example, be sure interesting pictures and or sounds relate directly to the material to be learned.

Make lessons brief or break longer presentations into discrete segments.

Actively involve the student during the lesson presentation. Have the ADHD student be the instructional aid who is to write key words or ideas on the board.

Encourage the students to develop mental images of the concepts or information being presented. Ask them about their images to be sure they are visualizing the key material to be learned. Allow the students to make frequent responses throughout the lesson by using choral responding, frequently calling on many individuals, having the class respond with hand signals. Employ role-playing activities to act out key concepts, historical events, etc.

Provide self-correcting materials. Use computer assisted instruction. Use cooperative learning activities, particularly those that assign each child in a group a specific role or piece of information that must be shared with the group.

Develop learning stations and clear signals and procedures for how students transition from one center to another. Use game-like activities, such as "dictionary scavenger hunts," to teach appropriate use of reference/resource materials.

Interact frequently (verbally and physically) with the student. Use the student's name in your lesson presentation. Write personal notes to the student about key elements of the lesson.

Pair students to check work. Provide peer tutoring to help student's review concepts.

Let ADHD students share recently learned concepts with struggling peer.

When presenting a large volume of information on the chalkboard, use colored chalk to emphasize key words or information.

Worksheets and Tests:

Use large type. adhd student in classroom

Keep page format simple. Include no extraneous pictures or visual destractors that are unrelated to the problems to be solved.

Provide only one or two activities per page. Have white space on each page. Use dark black print. (Avoid handwritten worksheets or tests.)

Use buff-colored paper rather than white if the room's lighting creates a glare on white paper.

Write clear, simple directions. Underline key direction words or vocabulary or have the students underline these words as you read directions with them. Draw borders around parts of the page you want to emphasize.

Divide the page into sections and use a system to cover sections not currently being used. If possible, use different colors on worksheets or tests for emphasis, particularly on those involving rote, potentially boring work. Have the students use colored pens or pencils.

Give frequent short quizzes and avoid long tests. Provide practice tests.

Provide alternative environments with fewer distractions for test taking.

Using a tape recorder, have the student record test answers and assignments or give the student oral examinations.

Shorten assignments. If the child can demonstrate adequate concept mastery in 10 or 20 questions/problems, don't require 30-40 problems.


Model an organized classroom and model the strategies you use to cope with disorganization.

Establish a daily classroom routine and schedule. Show that you value organization by following 5 minutes each day for the children to organize their desks, folders, etc. Reinforce organization by having a "desk fairy" that gives a daily award for the most organized row of desks.

Use individual assignment charts or pads that can go home with the child to be signed daily by parents if necessary. Develop a clear system for keeping track of completed and uncompleted work such as having individual hanging files in which each child can place completed work and a special folder for uncompleted work.

Develop a color coding method for your room in which each subject is associated with a certain color that is the that subjects textbook cover and on the folder or workbook for that subject.

Develop a reward system for in-school work and homework completion. One example of a system that reinforces both work quality and work quantity involves translating points earned into "dollars" to be used for silent auction at the end of grading period.

For children needing more immediate reinforcement, each completed assignment could earn the child a "raffle ticket" with her/his name on it. Prizes or special privileges could be awarded on the basis of a random drawing held daily or weekly.

Write schedule and timelines on the board each day. Provide due dates for assignments each day. Divide longer assignments into sections and provide due dates or times for the completion of each section.

Use visual and/or auditory cues as signals prior to changing a task and to announce that the task will be ending.

Tape a checklist to the child's desk or put one in each subject folder/notebook that outlines the steps in following directions or checking to be sure an assignment is complete. Provide study guides or outlines of the content you want the child to learn, or let the child build her/his own study guide with worksheets tat have been positively corrected.

Be clear about when student movement is permitted and when it is discouraged, such as during independent work times.


Keep the classroom behavior rules simple and clear. Have the class agree on what the rules should be. Define and review classroom rules each day. Implement a classroom behavior management system. Actively reinforce desired classroom behaviors.

Use self-monitoring and self-reinforcement on-task behavior during independent work time. Use a kitchen timer to indicate periods of intense independent word and reinforce the class for appropriate behavior during this period. Start with brief periods (5-10 minutes) and gradually increase the period as the class demonstrates success.

adhd boy in class - adhd classroom behavior interventionsWhen necessary, develop contracts with an individual student and her/his parents to reinforce a few specific behaviors. Set hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly goals depending on the reinforcement needs of the specific student. Provide frequent feedback on the student's progress toward these goals.

Provide a changing array of backup rewards or privileges so that students do not "burn out" on a particular system. For example, students can earn tickets for a daily or weekly raffle for the display of positive behavior.

To improve out-of-the-classroom behavior, allow the class to earn a reward based on he compliments they receive on their behavior from other teachers, lunchroom staff, playground aides and principals.

Avoid giving the whole class negative consequences based on the ADHD child's behavior. The ADHD child, as well as the whole class, can benefit from implementation of social skills curriculum for the entire class.

Modeling and requiring the children to use a systematic method of talking through classroom conflicts and problems can be particularly valuable for the ADHD child to implement this, teachers are referred to the literature on cognitive-behavioral approaches to developing the child's self-talk and problem solving.

Praise specific behaviors. For example, "I like how you wrote down all your assignments correctly," rather than "Good boy!"

Use visual and auditory cues as behavioral reminders. For example, have two large jars at the front of the room, with one filled with marbles or some other object. When the class is behaving appropriately, move some marbles to the other jar and let the students know that when the empty jar is filled they can earn a reward.

Frequently move about the room so that you can maximize you degree of proximity control.

When appropriate, give students choices about several different activities that could choose to work on one at a time.

With students who can be quite volatile and may initially refuse negative consequences (such as refusing to go to time-out), set a kitchen timer for a brief period (1-2 minutes) after refusal has occurred. Explain to the child that the child can use the two minutes to decide if she/he will go to time out on her/his own or if more serious consequence must be imposed. Several experienced teachers insist this method has successfully reduced the extent to which they have had to physically enforce certain negative consequences with students and seems to de-escalate the situation.

Suggestions from 450 surveyed teachers, compiled by Suzanne Cardman of Long Beach State University, "Seminar In Child Language Disorders," Spring 1994. Learn more ADHD classroom interventions at

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