3 Research-Based Strategies for Supporting Children with ADHD

student with adhd

A quick search of the internet will turn up many “suggestions” for helping students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) succeed in the classroom. However, frustratingly few of these strategies are actually supported by research. Here are three research-based supports proven to maximize academic outcomes for students with ADHD:

Teach Self-Regulation Strategies

Self-regulation strategies allow kids to control their body movement, manage their emotions, and monitor their own behavior while still staying focused. Self-regulation skills help kids to be flexible when expectations change and calm themselves down when they get upset. Frequently, children with ADHD act impulsively in an emotionally charged situation because they are unable to stop, think about the situation, and come up with solutions before acting. However, if you ask them later, the student can often generate alternative solutions or tell you what they should have done.

Goal-setting activities can also be helpful as they allow students to associate carefully choosing behavior in the moment to the accomplishment of long-term goals.

Children with ADHD can be taught how to self-regulate. Teachers can help students to become more self-aware by prompting them to stop and think about how they are feeling or how they may feel when placed in certain situations. Students can learn to identify and name feelings. For example, a student might learn to recognize that when their stomach feels like it has butterflies, their heart is racing, and their mind is going really fast they are feeling anxious. Students can be taught to recognize and avoid triggers that may cause emotional stress and lead to impulsive behavior or a decrease in focus. Goal-setting activities can also be helpful as they allow students to associate carefully choosing behavior in the moment to the accomplishment of long-term goals.

Set Up One-On-One Mentoring

Research indicates that successful interventions and instruction on self-regulation strategies for children with ADHD should be delivered in one-on-one sessions. An effort to set up short individual sessions with a special education case-manager, assigned mentor, school counselor, or social worker during the school day will provide students with the most benefit. Sessions can be used to revisit behavioral challenges and look at possible solutions, explore feelings, and teach-self regulation skills. If individual time is not an option at school, parents may also consider seeking out individual sessions with a professional or mentor outside of school who can help the student to learn and acquire the necessary self-regulation and executive functioning skills.

Provide Daily Feedback

Use of a daily “report card” is another intervention that is relatively easy to implement, low-cost, and can be very effective at teaching children to monitor behavior.  Children set daily goals for their behavior that are reviewed by each of their teachers and then sent home each day. This intervention is a manageable way for schools to make sure they are considering a student’s individual needs while also fostering home-school collaboration in meeting those needs.The student should receive a reward when they meet their goals, and goals should be revised often so that they reflect the student’s current needs.

Implementing these teaching strategies helps students to learn, through instruction and modeling, how to regulate their own emotions and behavior, setting them up for more successful interactions at school, work, and in social situations.

-Nina Parrish, M.Ed.
Owner | Parrish Learning Zone, LLC


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