Tips for ADHD Students
If you are an adult student, you can advocate for yourself and make many of the following changes for yourself.
I am also writing to parents of children with ADD or ADHD, and they may need to be more involved to help make the changes both at home and at school.
Make changes to the environment.
Find or create a good homework location. Having a designated place to focus is essential. This helps create the “mind-set” for learning, and the consistency is calming for those with anxiety or hyperactivity.
Of course, if your child needs your help, you will need a space that can accommodate you in a comfortable way as well.
If your child does not need your help, or very limited help, you could find a study-type activity for you to do at the same time at or near the homework station. In this way, you can model focused attention and studious behaviours. (Yes, I do realize that many ADD or ADHD kids come from ADD or ADHD parents, but you can make the change for yourself as well. Double bonus!)
At any rate, you need to find a space that has limited distractions. I realize that this can be very difficult, but give it a good try. You might be able to use portable screens or other inventive ways to “create” that relatively quiet space to capture and retain attention.
Check out my previous blog/video about study space: Steps to Success – Step Six.
Set up a schedule for homework. Sometimes right after school is perfect because the student is already in the frame of mind. For many, however, they need a break. Having a snack and some down time might be perfect. Even a nap is not such a bad idea as long as it is only 15 to 20 minutes. Any longer and most people end up being groggy – basically ready for a full night’s sleep rather than refreshed and ready to go.
Every student and every child is different, so you might have to play around with timing to get it just right. When you do figure it out, try to be as consistent as possible. All students benefit from structure, but ADHD learners especially benefit from it.
As far as possible, focus on structure throughout all activities – every day. It can make everyone’s life easier in the long run.
Chaos, noise, and distractions is like adding fuel to the fire.
It is not always possible to make every change that would help. Schools must accommodate a lot of different students, many with various identifications. Teachers are faced with the daunting task of trying to teach individuals but also a classroom filled with students.
Still, here are some ideas that might help.
Pay attention to seating. Try to have as much consistency as possible, again. Knowing what to expect and where to go helps reduce extra stress which can exacerbate ADHD.
Try to have a seat away from major traffic flow and where you can see and hear the teacher clearly. In other words, avoid the pencil sharpener, door, busy workstations where students might be coming and going between tasks. Windows are fine as long as they don’t face a lot of changing scenery. In that case, pulling a drape might help.
Separating any student completely is not all that helpful. He or she will want to know what is going on and will spend all of his or her time trying to find out, or he or she will start doing independent task-avoidance strategies behind the barrier intended to help them focus.
Also, nobody really wants to be seen as that different. Ensuring that each student “fits in” as much as possible is helpful. Not only that, but learning how to cope in graduated ways to a few distractions and more likely learn/work environments is important.
Again, you might need to try a lot of trial and error to see what works best, recognizing that there likely is no perfect spot.
Sometimes a study buddy system at school can be very helpful. Preferably, a study buddy would be a student who knows how to stay on-task and has excellent work habits. This buddy can assist the student to write down homework, remember to take the necessary supplies home, and check that he or she is on the right track.
Recognize the teachers’ responsibility and task and try to be helpful so that they will return the favour. As I am always reminding my students, teachers are people, too. They respond more positively to those who want to work with them and those who aren’t attacking them. Once you have a good relationship, you are more likely to receive faster and better changes if and when necessary.
Ask for teacher feedback. If you are the ADHD student, you can use this feedback to help make changes or ask for alterations that might help you. If you are the parent, you can use this data to help advocate for your child. Perhaps even more importantly, you can use this information to help your child understand the expectations and teaching pattern. Younger students often have difficulty recognizing or interpreting all the disparate pieces and can use your help to put the puzzle together.
These are just a few tips to get you started. Watch for more tips in future blog / video entries.
One last point that I must make is that a tutor can make all the difference. Having a coach in any discipline motivates you and helps you to achieve your goals.
Tips for ADHD Students!