For children with ADD to do well, it is imperative that their teacherunderstand what ADD is and knowhow to work with these children in the classroom. The classroom experience can make or break the self-esteem, as well as theintellectual foundation, of children with ADD.
To assist in the classroom, we offer 50 tips writtenfor ADD children in school. Since these tips were written explicitly for theclassroom teacher, you may find it useful to share them with your child'sschool.
Teachers recognize what many professionals do not: that there is no one syndromeof ADD, but many; that ADD rarely occurs in "pure" form by itself, butrather it usually shows up entangled with several other problems such aslearning disabilities or mood problems; that the face of ADD changes with theweather, that it's inconstant and unpredictable; and that the treatment for ADD,despite what may be serenely elucidated in various texts, remains a task of hardwork and devotion. The effectiveness of any treatment for this disorder atschool depends upon the knowledge and the persistence of the school and theindividual teacher.
The following suggestions are intended for teachers of children of all ages. Some suggestions will be obviously more appropriate for younger children, othersfor older, but the unifying themes of structure, education, and encouragementpertain to all.
1. First of all, make sure what you are dealing with really is ADD.
2. Build your support. Find a knowledgeable person with whom you can consultwhen you have a problem.
3. Know your limits. Don't be afraid toask for help. You, as a teacher, cannot be expected to be an experton ADD.
4. Ask the child what will help. Children with ADD are oftenvery intuitive.
5. Remember the emotional part of learning. Thesechildren need special help in finding enjoyment in theclassroom.
6. Remember that ADD kids need structure.
7. Postrules. The children will be reassured by knowing what is expected of them.
8. Repeat directions. Write down directions. Speak directions. Repeatdirections. People with ADD need to hear things more than once.
9.Make frequent eye contact. You can "bring back" an ADD child with eyecontact.
10. Seat the ADD child near your desk or whatever you are most of the time.
11. Set limits, boundaries. This is containing and soothing, not punitive.
12. Have a predictable a schedule as possible. Post it on the blackboardor the child's desk.
13. Try to help the children make their own schedules for after school inan effort to avoid one of the hallmarks of ADD: procrastination.
14. Eliminate, or reduce the frequency of, timed tests.
15. Allow for escape-value outlets such as leaving class for a moment.
16. Go for quality rather than quantity of homework .
17. Monitorprogress often. Children with ADD benefit greatly from frequent feedback.
18. Break down large tasks into small tasks.
19. Let yourself be playful, be unconventional, be flamboyant. People withADD love to play.
20. Still again, watch out for overstimulation.
21. Seek out and underscore success as much as possible.
22. Memory is often a problem with these kids. Teach them little trickslike mnemonics, flash cards, etc.
23. Use outlines. Teach outlining. Teach underlining.
24. Announcewhat you are going to say it. Say it. Then say what you have said.
25. Simplify instructions. Simplify choices. Simplify scheduling.
26. Use feedback that helps the child become self-observant.
27. Make expectation explicit.
28. A point system is a possibility as part of behavioral modification or areward system for younger children.
29. If the child has trouble reading social cues - try discreetly to offerspecific and explicit advise as a sort of social coaching.
30. Teach test taking skills.
31. Make a game out of things. Motivation improves ADD.
32. Separate pairs and trios, whole clusters even, that don't do welltogether.
33. Pay attention to connectedness. These kids need to feel engaged,connected.
34. Give responsibility back to the child when possible.
35. Try a home-to-school-to-home notebook.
36. Try to use daily progress reports.
37. Physical devices such as timer and buzzers can help withself-monitoring.
38. Prepare for unstructured time.
39. Praise, stroke, approve, encourage, nourish.
40. With older children, suggest that they write little notes to themselvesto remind them of their questions about what is being taught.
41. Handwriting is difficult for many of these children. Considerdeveloping alternatives.
42. Be like a conductor of symphony. Get the orchestra's attention beforebeginning.
43. When possible, arrange for some students to have "study buddy"in each subject.
44. To avoid stigma, explain to the rest of the class andnormalize the treatment the child receives.
45. Meet with parents often. Avoid the pattern of meeting only when thereare problems or crisis.
46. Encourage reading aloud at home. Read aloud in class as much aspossible.
47. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
48. Encourage physical exercise.
49. With older children, stress preparation prior to coming into class.
50. Always be on the lookout for sparkling moments.
These 50 Tips are from Dr. Hallowell's and Dr. Ratey's book, Driven toDistraction, from Pantheon Books.