Nov 25, 2013

Kids with ADHD...How to Effectively Connect with Them

ADHD is marked by attention problems and impulsive behavior.

A recent report shows the number of children being diagnosed with ADHD is on the rise.

About 11 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with the condition at some point.  (6.4 million)

Boys (13.2%) are more likely than girls (5.6%) to be diagnosed with ADHD.  But I didn't have to tell you that.  If you've ever taught a 3rd grade boys' class, you already knew that.

The average age of ADHD diagnosis is 7 years of age.

But imagine creating an environment where kids with ADHD can effectively discover Biblical truth and grow in their faith.  Take these steps and you'll see it happen.

Establish a relationship with the child's parents.  Learn about their child’s strengths, weaknesses, interests and achievements.  Ask what teaching methods have been most effective with their child. Communicate often and send encouraging notes home.

Build a relationship with the child.  When you show the child compassion and he/she knows you care, he/she will respond to you much better.

Connect with the child and let them set up a "secret" cue that you can use with them if they get off task.  It could be a hand signal, a sound, a touch on the shoulder, or some other cue.  Let the child decide what the cue will be.

Keep instructions simple and structured.

Don't just use lecture-style teaching.  Include various kinds of learning activities such as competitive games or other activities that are rapid and intense.

Use props, charts, and visual aids when teaching.

Allow the child to take breaks as needed.

Give the child a physical outlet such as squeezing a ball.

Have the child sit near the front on the outside of the rows.   This way, if they move, they won't bother others.  

Use rewards instead of punishment.  Kids with ADHD are constantly told "no."  Instead use positive reinforcement.

Don't engage in power struggles with the child. 
When you one wins.

Avoid criticizing the child in front of others.
Divide the lesson into short segments.  This helps honor their very short attention span. 

Seat the child in an area that has the least amount of distractions.
(windows, doors, etc.)

What are your suggestions for connecting with kids with ADHD?  

Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.


Giving the child a special job or responsibility, even something simple like collecting in cups or giving out paper can help the child feel like a valuable part of the group.

If the child sometimes gets frustrated when they don't understand or can't deal with something, find a rehearsed way for them to get your attention without kicking off. For us, we get the child to choose a seat somewhere away from the main group and encourage them to go and sit there if they're getting wound up so they can have a minute to collect their thoughts and they know that you have noticed them and will come and talk to them shortly. We find this encourages the child to keep their temper, stops the lesson being disrupted and helps the child to communicate in a positive way.

"Wiggly bottom mats" have also helped us with classes where the children are sat on the floor. We give the child a mat that's slightly bigger than the size they need. Then they are allowed to wriggle around on it but not allowed to move off it. This has greatly reduced the rolling about the floor and the constantly getting up and down to wander about.

If your budget and space will stretch this far, using inflatable exercise balls for the kids to sit on instead of chairs works great. They are constantly moving a little bit to keep themselves balanced which helps them to focus much better on a story or craft where they need to sit down and concentrate.

With any of these things, clear boundaries and consistency will help a child understand what is expected of them. Patience and encouragement are so important too, but every child is worth that little bit of extra attention.

These are great ideas. Thank you for sharing. We use the wiggly mats and they do help.

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