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Tips for helping ADD/ADHD -type children concentrate

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Waterfin, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    You know the ones...no diagnosis (and none likely to be carried out either for lots of different reasons), find it hard to concentrate and are still distracting to others in the class.
    I am looking for some strategies to try to help these types of children concentrate and to cut down on the distractions for others. I often feel I end up dealing with these type of children quite negatively and am hoping for some new things to try.
  2. First and foremost, many of them would not meet the diagnostic criteria for a formal diagnosis.
    The ADD vague staring out the window types shouldn't cause you any classroom trouble, they just won't get any work done. They can't concentrate and they don't pay much attention to anything going on around them either.
    The hyperactive, clumsy, rude types of children should be subject to the same rules and regulations as everyone else. If they can't or won't stop disrupting classroom activities and learning generally, they need to be warned and then sent out (eventually, depending on the rules in your school).
    One thing I would strongly recommend for all students in this group is a referral for an eye-test. If the optometrist is any good - or has in interest in this area, a certain proportion of these kids will be identified as dyslexic or having straightforward vision problems. These are the ones who parents tell you were 'diagnosed' as ADHD but the drugs "didn't work". The drugs couldn't work because the student never had that kind of brain chemistry, what they have is my patented 'dyslexic destroyer syndrome'.
    I know of no classroom strategies that would help both to keep them in the classroom and to get them (or anyone else) to learn anything. Even in the very best, extremely supportive environment, we had to tell a couple of our private tuition clients to not come back - they weren't learning anything and they interfered with others' (fairly expensive) tuition sessions.
    But there's no need to be negative. Just be calm, definite and immovable. The most important thing is to impose routines and regularity into their chaotic lack-of-thinking. The ones with a genuine, but undiagnosed, hyperactivity disorder really cannot help their impulsiveness. Your job is to help the rest of the class get on with learning rather than acting as an unsuccessful therapy group.
    Every now and again you can have a beautiful moment when one of the quiet, non-working ADD ones finally gets a diagnosis and takes the medication. The transformation into a steady worker who just gets on with it is a rare kind of blessing.
  3. Not a classroom strategy. But getting some info from these people and giving it as a handout to parents who don't know how to deal with ther children's behaviour might be worth a shot. There are no really good details in the item, for all I know it's one of those research projects where enveryone was so enthusiastic the results couldn't have come out otherwise.
  4. In my fairly limited experience, I've found that changing my seating plan so that they're surrounded by quiet/sensible students can help. And try to be friendly but firm, rather than being negative or confrontational.

    Perhaps you also could plan in opportunities for group/carousel work so that they're less opportunity for them to get bored and any off task behaviour will be less distracting for other students.
  5. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    Thanks for all the words of advice.
    I do apply the the behaviour policy fairly, firmly and consistently.
    I have a good working relationship with the child in my class this year who fits the bill and am finding it easy to be firm, calm and pleasant rather than annoyed.
    Unfortunately, it is times when I am operating carousel half days (which I do whenever we have something that the children would find easier to do in small groups rather than whole class...and whenever I have a little help in the room either from the classroom assistant or volunteer helpers) that the child I have this year finds it most difficult to concentrate.
  6. Dealing with those disorders are not that really eas. It needs a lot of patience and understanding. I've had been dealing with it and I had a helping hand that I really need and that is with the Turning Winds, my son really gives them the right treatment and therapy with also the love and care that they also longing for. I've been visiting my son and had the time of his life staying in the that institution.
  7. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    Okay.. I think you were looking for practical ideas... Here's what has worked for me.

    I always seat this child at the front of the room just to the right of where I usually stand or sit when talking to the class (I'm one of those who sits on my desk to teach). I have a quiet chat with the child, ask what is going on just before they get loud or fidgety... ask how they feel if the class look at them etc. Most kids are not aware of what they're doing so I agree a hand signal... usually I just make a downward sweep of my hand.. a 'calm down' type motion or I might arrange that I'll just touch the front of their desk if they're getting giddy. This given them the chance to regulate their own behaviour if they can.

    I had one child who would wriggle so much he once slapped the girl sitting behind him by accident! I got some sparkly sticky backed plastic, drew around my hands, cut them out and stuck them on his desk. When I needed to talk to the whole class I would quietly say. 'Hands on hands' to him first and I swear he would sit with his hands on those sparkly hands until it was time to pick up his pen... he loved his special hands!

    I've also made 'time out' cards for kids to just take a minute on the corridor to collect themselves. The card just says I'm not in trouble... I just need a minute to calm down! This helps them to manage their own behaviour. I keep the card but they can ask for it if they feel they are not coping... I might suggest a time out at times. The point is I'm not sending them out for being 'bad' just recognising their problem and helping them cope better.

    I think you need to have a pretty relaxed attitude with these kids.. I had one who I had used the card strategy with.. he came into my lesson as hyper as you could be... he started singing a Queen song. Everyone looked at me to see if I would tell him off... so I stopped what I was doing... listened to him and clapped at the end, the class joined in. We all laughed and got on with the lesson. I thought it would deal with the situation much faster to just let him finish because I could see that a confrontation might be disastrous for him at that point. He loved the positive attention, of which he got very little and it didn't really damage my teaching time.
  8. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    Oh and I forgot... having seated them at the front... when I ask the class to get on with a written task I would go straight to the ADHD child and set them a smaller target: 'write the title' or 'tell me when you've done a paragraph or a sentence', depending on the writing skills of the child. This gives them a much sharper focus and the opportunity for you to praise them at regular intervals. It might seem like a bind to begin with but if it keeps them on track it makes for a much easier time. It means that you can tell if they've understood the task very quickly and keep their focus on what they should be doing. You'll be surprised how much the other kids will accept someone being treated slightly differently, they will already have noticed that he or she is different to begin with... especially if they get to have a lesson without disruption.
  9. Unfortunately Zadok, this strategy isn't applicable to the 'carousel' activities where this child kicks off so badly.
    Short of giving him something completely different to do where he's not involved in the general excitement, I'm not sure what could be done.
  10. I think this depends on the kids.
    In tough schools there are kids out there who'll resent the extra attention and lower requirements that this ADHD child demands. They will demand similar treatment and the fact that they don't get it will be used as an excuse for kicking for poor behaviour by themselves and their parents.
    'I couldn't do the work because she is always helping xyz and not me'
    'I swore because the work was too difficult - why can't you let me do it in my own time, you let xyz do it in his own time'
  11. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Excellent practical ideas, zadok - and, as you say, they work for you, so they have a proven track record. I've used "reminder cards" too quite successfully. They do work - not forever, but nothing in behaviour management works forever.
    I think the key to what you're doing is to recognise that the behaviour management you employ with children like these is simply part of the differentiation you use in learning situations too. We recognise that different children learn to do Maths, Geography, Science, etc., all at different rates and requiring different levels of support: sometimes we might have to acept that different children learn to behave at different rates and need different types of support.
  12. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I had an ADHD student who would uncontrollably interrupt me in mid flow or go off on rants when he answered questions. I tried many strategies to get him back on task. The most effective was a simple pink card which I held up when he went off on one or interrupted me. He instantly knew he had to alter his behaviour. It worked for him.
  13. I agree with this but fear it is an opinion not shared by many in education.
    My observation is that the OFSTED system, politicians, target dependent managers and many teachers in well to do schools think that getting naughty children to behave is something that would happen overnight if only the teacher used the latest fad of the day. It is never acknowledged by these people that a teacher may have sweated blood to make amazing progress with an 'off the chart' class in a difficult school - instead they label the teacher 'barely adequate' and subject them to more unreasonable pressure.

  14. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Agreed - but here are also some other equally deluded others who think that getting naughty children to behave is something that would happen overnight if only the teacher used the cane...
  15. Thanks Zadok, some great practical tips there that will come in handy for me as an NQT in a school for boys with challenging behaviour! [​IMG]
  16. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    It seems to me you forgot to have the conversation with your class about how we all have strengths and weaknesses and how we're all different.

    I have taught in very 'tough' schools, including a secure unit. I think how pupils treat each other often depends on how they are treated by the members of staff in the room. I have terrible trouble writing on a board... for some reason I often misspell words when writing 'big'. To combat this I usually prepare power-points, however I often still need to put up extra notes etc... I write, stand back and ask the kids to check with me to see if I've made any mistakes. I'm very open about the fact that I struggle with this, after they have laughed with me at the idea of an English teacher making spelling mistakes, I usually comment that I wonder if it's an aspect of dyslexia because I just don't see the mistakes until I can stand a distance from the board, they just accept it and are actually quite helpful. In the same way I go to great lengths to talk about how someone who can read well might not be the best at discussing ideas and someone who is very good verbally might struggle with writing... equally we talk about how some people are better at maths, or sport... Because I'm very open about my areas of weakness the students are pretty open about their own and will ask for help or allow others to receive extra help.
  17. Team sports can help children with ADHD develop better collaborative skill. Also, Make sure you keep a positive attitude towards your children and encourage your child to go in an adhd schools, community organization or clubs.

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