25 practical tips and strategies for working with children with ADHD


Teaching Resource, Guidance - 29 Jun 2016

We list some of John Mullen suggestions, as well as an accumulation of ideas taken from various SEN websites.

John Mullen, lecturer at Stranmillis University College, recently shared his ADHD expertise at the NASEN NI study day. It was very insightful for all, as he provided some excellent practical tips and strategies for working directly with children with ADHD.

We hope you find these pointers useful, as it is by no means an exhaustive list. As we know, children with ADHD may have 2 or more accompanying special needs. Thus, how we interact and work with our children can vary, according to their specific needs.

Ideas within a class setting:

  1. Seat the pupil near the teacher but include him/her as part of the whole class
  2. Place the child up front with his/her back to the rest of the class, keeping others out of view
  3. Allow him/her to use objects to manipulate when sitting (fidget toys) – aids concentration
  4. Surround the child with good role models, preferably those seen as significant others
  5. Encourage peer tutoring and cooperative learning
  6. Avoid distracting stimuli. Try not to place the child near heaters, doors or windows or other potential distractions. High levels of background noise can also be a problem
  7. Try to avoid changes in schedules, physical relocation or unnecessary transitions.  Children with ADHD may not respond well to change or unplanned activities, so monitor them closely on extra-curricular activities such as educational outings
  8. Be creative. Produce a reduced-stimuli area or workstation for learners to access
  9. Maintain eye contact with him/her during verbal instruction
  10. Make directions clear and concise and be consistent with daily instructions
  11. Make sure s/he understands instructions and what is expected before beginning a task
  12. Help him/her to feel comfortable with seeking assistance
  13. Encourage pupil independence, becoming less reliant on the teacher
  14. Ensure that a communication diary is set up between the parent and teacher
  15. Give one task at a time, monitoring frequently and modify tasks as necessary
  16. Develop an individualised learning programme for specific subjects
  17. If the pupil is easily distracted by noise, use ear defenders to minimise triggers
  18. Break work tasks down into manageable chunks
  19. Encourage controlled movement during class time
  20. Incorporate ‘take ten’ and relaxation techniques into your timetable
  21. Provide sensory stimulus e.g. weighted blankets, OT ball, exercise drills
  22. Make appropriate use of computerised programmes and resources for specific learning objectives
  23. Make sure you test knowledge, not attention span. Don’t penalise your pupils with ADHD
  24. Pause and create suspense by looking around before asking questions
  25. Signal pupils’ attention - say that someone is going to have to answer a question about what is being said


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