Hyperactivity, inattention and impulsivity are the hallmark symptoms of ADHD. In school, children can have trouble remaining seated and on task. Teachers, who must meet the instructional needs of many other students, may have difficulty managing the behavior of students with ADHD. Behaviors can be disruptive to the learning of both the student with ADHD and the rest of the students in the class.

Challenges in the Classroom

In the classroom, children are expected to sit for long periods of time at desks or tables. They must wait their turn when answering questions and playing games. They must pay attention to directions and instruction in order to learn material and perform well on tests.

With hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention, the three types of symptoms associated with ADHD, children can have significant difficulty functioning successfully in the classroom.

Classroom Help for Children With ADHD

Teachers may feel frustrated at having to expend most of their energy to keep one or more students with ADHD on task while neglecting other students. Until a diagnosis is revealed, they may not be able to explain why a student is performing poorly on homework or tests. Fortunately for children with ADHD, help is available in the form of several changes to the classroom.

If the child is on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or section 504 plan, a teacher is legally required to carry out recommended changes and consequences stipulated by these plans. An IEP may deem a child eligible for reduced homework assignments or modified curriculum. Special education staff, including the school or district psychologist, can address any questions or concerns you may have.

Suggestions for Teachers

Constant redirection in front of the whole class (for instance, “Johnny, are you listening to me?”) can be counterproductive. It interrupts the lesson for the rest of the students, and these constant reprimands can be damaging to the self-esteem of the student with ADHD. Instead, use a nonverbal signal, such as tapping the child’s desk as you walk by. Visual reminders of the rules, placed throughout the classroom, can also be helpful.

Children with ADHD benefit from using up their boundless energy. Delivering messages or distributing supplies can serve as a “body break.” Avoid revoking recess as a punishment as its an ideal situation in which kids with ADHD can expend their energy.

These strategies may be effective for children with ADHD:

  • Assign the child a seat in the front row, or another location with minimal distraction.
  • Be sure the child is aware of which behaviors are expected and appropriate, and not just the ones that are unacceptable.
  • Encourage the child to make eye contact with you when you speak to him, so you know that you have his attention.
  • Make directions brief and clear.
  • Praise the child when possible, and offer constructive criticism to help modify behavior and improve attention.


Bailey, E. (2010). Classroom management of ADHD. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.healthcentral.com/adhd/education-159176-5.html.

National Association of School Psychologist.s (2002). Helping the student with ADHD in the classroom. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://www.nasponline.org/resources/handouts/special needs template.pdf.

 Posted on : June 14, 2014