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"My name is Nina Jackson and I’m from Independent Thinking. I've been posed with a question of - ‘How can I best support a child with ADHD in my classroom?’. But I am also going to support some ideas that you can use for online learning and home learning as well.

First of all I would make sure that I've got a really, good, solid sound relationship with that student - that I've actually taken time to sit with them to discuss possibly what they view are some of their challenges and to offer them emotional support. So, that when they may be having an ADHD episode - when they're out of control and they may not be fully aware of what's happening to them - that they've got a safe space and a safe person in me as their teacher.

The Power of Clear Instructions

So, how would I help them in regulating their learning and in focusing on their learning? (Because as we know ADHD students behaviour can be very, very different on a day-to-day, hour by hour basis) I would make sure that clear instructions are given, every single time.

I would scaffold the learning to make sure that my speech isn't too quick for them, as also check in with them to make sure that they've understood what the actual task is and reinforcing that use of language, and definitely understanding what their needs are.

I would provide the student with a doodle pad, a notepad or maybe even a sensory tool to be able to help them to self-regulate and to be emotionally secure in that learning environment when it comes to written tasks.

Tracking and Tracing

I would make sure that I offer that to the student because often many of our students with ADHD find it very challenging to be able to write down these very, sort of, quick thoughts that are actually in their mind, so I would offer them a digital device to be able to use speech to text and then that would allow the student to then listen to exactly what it is that they've recorded - to track and trace some of the language across the screen and of course then give them the empowerment and self-confidence to believe and know that they can achieve amazing things in supporting them with their ADHD, particularly when they're getting very anxious or very, very fidgety.

I would offer them some alternative sensory tools, maybe a pipe cleaner or a little bit of blue tack that they can use to help them focus and listen to the teacher, but also have something to fiddle with as well, I know I particularly like something to fiddle with occasionally to help me keep me focused. I would also possibly offer them a wobble cushion - some of you may or may not have heard of this but it's a round sort of plastic type cushion that actually has got these extended bubbles on top - they're much like the bubbles that we pop with bubble wrap,  but when you sit on that it actually really, really helps the individual to be able to focus and not be so fidgety.

On Scaffolding

Coming back to these clear slow instructions, I would make sure that there was scaffolding, that there was chunked learning and that there was a variety of opportunities for the student to access learning.

I like to call it the learning buffet so that I could give them visual prompts and actually demonstrate how I would like the task to be done. I would most certainly be inviting them to the VIP lounge which is right at the front near me where I can support them, help them and direct them if needed.  If you use this type of language and say to the students ‘would you like to join me in the first-class VIP lounge’ then you're not going to have so much resistance.

If for example they want to sit at the back of the classroom where there’s a window, so they can daydream or even sometimes near a door where they can have a pretty quick exit then let them.

Safe Spaces

I'd like to really, really recommend something that I would use to support an ADHD student and there's a spell in the dictionary called the Ace Spelling Dictionary which is all to do with sounds of words and that really, really, really does help - I would make sure that there's a safe space for the child in my classroom and that they would have a designated space that they could go to rather than being withdrawn from the classroom.

Thanks very much! Look after yourselves in these very difficult times. I'm Nina Jackson from @ITLWorldwide on Twitter and also @MusicMind."

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About the author

Nina Jackson

Nina Jackson

Nina is a teacher, writer and speaker very much in demand for her work in teaching and learning, SEND, creativity, learning technologies and, increasingly, well-being and emotional health for children and their teachers. She is the author of Of Teaching, Learning and Sherbet Lemons.

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