14 ways to give direction to students with ADHD.
– Tips for parents and teachers
Whether you are a teacher with one or more students with ADHD or the parent of a child with ADHD you may struggle at times to get your message across to them. Give a child too much information and they may think that the whole task is too difficult and refuse to do it. However, there are ways that you can manage these issues and give the child with ADHD their best chance to understand what you want them to do. Here are 14 ways that can help you provide direction to students with ADHD.
- Talking over students can be seen as a way to get their attention but it is advised to wait until you have their attention before you start to give them instructions. This allows them to completely focus on what you are asking them to do and they are less likely to be distracted by who scored the most goals at lunchtime.
- Develop a signal that the students recognise that it is time to stop what they are doing and pay attention to the teacher. It could be that you stand in a particular part of the class room (such as front and centre), or if you’re feeling creative you could play a short song and do a little dance. Whatever it is that you do once the students learn your signal they will know that it is time to finish up what they are doing and focus on you. For parents, create a unique gesture with the help of your child so that they feel a part of the collaborative process.
- When giving instructions it is important to be direct and to the point. Make sure that the instructions that you are giving the child are clear so that they have the best chance to understand them. Write the instructions on a whiteboard or piece of paper that is accessible for all to see so that they can reference them if required. Avoid giving multiple instructions at the one time (it’s not fair to expect some with ADHD to remember to remember everything that you said ten minutes ago!) And don’t be too wordy….like this article.
- “Hey buddy!” Have a buddy system so that the students can reference their friend for directions and instructions. Throughout the class you can ask the students to turn to their buddies and get them to tell them what the next step is. For example, “Everyone turn to their buddy and the child with their name starting closest to the end of the alphabet needs to read the instructions on the board and tell the other child what they are.”
- Ensure that the children have understood what you have asked them to do. Instead of repeating your instructions get a student to volunteer and repeat the instructions to the class.
- If there is a student that may need extra assistance you can create a private signal between the two of you so that they do not feel embarrassed about seeking help. When you understand what the student needs help with you may then explain it to the entire class so that you don’t draw attention to one student.
- Be a model. Not like a Cindy Crawford but a model in the sense that you are showing the children what it is that you want them to do. Show them how to do the working out of a math problem and then explain the process that you went through.
- When students are doing the right thing, it is important to give them positive feedback. If you can see that a student is making a good attempt at the task give them some encouragement.
- Follow up with the students once you have delivered your instructions and they have starting to do the work. Check out what they have accomplished and what they may need help. Remember to give positive feedback and encourage the children as required.
- For more complex tasks you should break them down into smaller tasks so that it is not as daunting. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” so teach the children that some tasks may take longer than others and just because you may not finish something in the time span that you desired does not mean that you haven’t achieved anything.
- For those students who do not seem to follow instructions very well it is important to obtain eye contact and them direct instructions. It may also help if you get in closer proximity to them and explain what they need to do.
- Rather than focusing on the behaviour that you want to stop a child from performing, it is better to focus on what behaviours that you want the child to start
- Alpha-beta instructions. Avoid ‘beta’ using instructions that are vague and hard for the child to understand. Instead, use ‘alpha’ instructions that are well stated and clear. Examples of these include:
- Alpha instruction: “Select a character from the book that we are reading at the moment. Get out your writing books and pencil. Write five facts about the character. For example, the main character had brown hair.”
- Beta instruction: “I want you to think about a book that you are reading at the moment and describe who the main character is”.
- Use a firm and neutral voice when giving instructions.