Making School AD/HD Friendly

 An Overview: AD/HD in the Classroom

For too many AD/HD adults, school day recollections are not fond nostalgic memories, but painful nightmares. Some of us are lucky enough to remember a certain teacher or course that delighted and excited us.

I can recall a social studies teacher who made me feel that my thoughts about world events were as important as any head of state. I remember an English teacher who enjoyed my wacky poetry, despite the awful grammar and misspelling. There was a biology teacher who let me do science hands-on and avoid the textbooks. (He pre-recorded the lab experiments for a college Biology class and mixed them with rock and roll music and let us work away in the biology labs at all hours of the day and night). Somehow, despite my “hyperness”, my poor concentration, my chronic disorganization, my procrastination, my inability to memorize so many pieces of information that someone thought was so important, I came to love learning and value education.

Because I started reading at a very young age, before it was formalized in the classroom, I learned that reading was a source of pleasure and not a chore. Books could stimulate my daydreams and fantasies and could take me places I could never go in my lonely, urban existence.

Libraries were the storehouses of these treasures and in libraries I could browse for hours (precursor to “surfing” the net) in the stacks: reading a few pages of any book that caught my fancy and foraging on to a totally unrelated area if I wished. With this love of learning, I was able to endure the torturous lessons and lectures, the punishments and humiliations, without turning off so much that the teachers who wished to captivate and excite me couldn’t still do so.

Related: Back to School Strategies

We can create classrooms that excite children with AD/HD. We can construct environments that are stimulating and dynamic without being chaotic and uncontrolled. We can have clear rules and consequences and still overlook some fidgeting and moving around.

I’m not recommending that we provide AD/HD children with more freedom in the classroom. For me, that would have been like adding fuel to the fire. On the contrary, I needed more structured variety. When I was the first one finished and I had done a good job – not just rushing through – I needed to know there was something interesting I was allowed to do. Instead I was punished for reading quickly, by having to wait, seated at my desk with my hands clasped in front of me for the others to finish.

Every half hour or so, I needed to just be allowed to get up and stretch for a minute. I remember my absolute joy in being selected the blackboard monitor and so each morning being allowed to leave the classroom and spend 10 minutes in the playground, shaking chalk from the erasers by banging them against the brick school walls.

Over the next few weeks, I will cover the following topics related to making school AD/HD friendly:

  • Attributes of successful teachers
  • The structure of the Classroom
  • Behavior Management
  • Meaning Based Learning
  • Quality over Quantity
  • Active Learning
  • Self Talk
  • Organization and Study Skills


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