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Teacher Tips

ADHD can have a negative effect on how well a child does at school.

The younger student

May often be out of their seat

Can’t wait their turn

Doesn’t follow instructions

Seems disinterested

Makes careless mistakes

Gets involved in and interrupts other children’s work

Gets into trouble constantly in the playground

Is fidgety and restless

Doesn’t finish tasks

The older student

Can’t seem to be in the right class at the right time with the right books

Doesn’t have the homework written down from each class

Doesn’t structure their work properly

Cannot organise study for exams

Can’t start homework

Can’t sustain the attention required to finish homework, projects etc.

May simply avoid tasks that seem too onerous, despite that fact that this may mean detention etc.

Does not do as well in exams as would be expected according to their ability



Here are some simple strategies for teachers and carers of children with ADHD in a group/classroom situation. Children with ADHD need the following three things, above all else, to cope with classroom life! They are:



                                           AND MORE STRUCTURE!

Classroom Management


From the Beginning

  • Always try to sit the student with ADHD in a part of the room with the least amount of distractions - up the front, away from doors and windows, in front of you but don't stigmatise the student by isolating them
  • Clear the desk or work area of all items not needed for the designated task at hand
  • Break the task down into steps from start to finish and reward after each stage, no matter how small each stage is
  • Allow for physical movement during the steps of completion of task e.g. to go and get the books from the shelf etc.
  • Talk to the student and try to stoop to their level and use eye contact and gestures.
  • Ascertain that you have the child’s attention when starting to give oral instruction
  • Encourage the child to use oral footnoting as he/she repeats the instruction back to you
  • Set limits clearly- children with ADHD find it difficult to quantify time, the use of a small visual clock, stopwatch or egg timers are a useful too
  • Insist on completion of task
  • Find their special or strongest interest and use it to engage the child in other activities e.g.; he/she is good at art- perhaps allow the child to draw what he/she hears in history class
  • Keep a routine in the room
  • Keep a visual record of Good Behaviour and Good Work. Catch the child being good and reward on a chart
  • Praise the student
  • Find his/her “Good Time” of the day – perhaps the child is on medication and monitoring is necessary, watch for changes in behaviour throughout the day
  • Provide an atmosphere of acceptance
  • Use of different colours, graphic and animation for instruction can prove useful
  • Uses of computer programmes are also useful ADHD children respond well to them and it encourages them to self-monitor

For older students

  • Encourage the student - to write it down, break it down
  • Keep a diary or “to do list”
  • Encourage colour coding e.g. in the homework journal
  • Set up a work station away from the desk
  • Use his/her wrist watch as a reminder
  • Praise the student
  • Say it, write it and repeat it when giving oral instruction
  • Monitor skills development and build on it
  • Give advance notice of upcoming tasks, e.g. projects and lessons
  • -what you expect and how you expect it to be completed
  • Change your tone of voice and pace – keep them interested
  • Encourage them for feed-back to reinforce the given instruction
  • Time out breaks
  • Seat breaks- allow movement in the room
  • Establish a private signal in advance so they know that their behaviour is inappropriate e.g. tapping the desk
  • Use positive language e.g. “Doin’ great”, “you’re nearly there”
  • Coach the student to completion
  • Re-assure


Hadd’s ADHD and Education : A Resource for Teachers provides school staff with information about ADHD and strategies to  aid teachers to help and manage children with ADD/ADHD in a busy and challenging classroom.


Other resources