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Classroom accommodations for ADHD

By Amanda Morin

Students with ADHD have difficulty with attention and self-control. And at school, that can look like inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and disorganization — all of which can get in the way of learning. What classroom accommodations can help students with ADHD? Here are some strategies teachers can try.

Setting up the classroom environment

  • Use flexible seating , like wiggle chairs, standing desks, footrests, seat cushions, or resistance bands on chair legs.

  • Increase the space between desks or work tables (if social distancing guidelines aren’t already in place).

  • Designate a quiet work space in the classroom.

  • Set up preferential seating close to the teacher and/or away from high-traffic areas.

  • Post a written schedule for daily routines and rules. When possible, let the student know ahead of time about schedule changes. 

Building organization skills

  • Use an assignment notebook or an electronic calendar.

  • Provide an extra set of books to keep at home.

  • Provide folders and baskets of supplies to keep desk organized.

  • Color-code materials for each subject.

  • Provide typed notes or an outline of the lesson to help with taking notes.

  • Teach note-taking strategies , like using graphic organizers and mind-mapping software.

  • Have a buddy take notes for the student.

Giving instructions

  • Give directions out loud and in writing, and have the student repeat them.

  • Provide a lesson outline that details instructions and assignments.

  • Keep instructions simple, clear, and concrete.

  • Use pictures and graphs to help create visual interest.

  • Provide a rubric that describes the elements of a successfully completed assignment.

  • Help the student break long assignments into smaller chunks .

Completing tests and assignments

  • Allow understanding to be demonstrated in different ways, like oral reports, posters, and video presentations.

  • Provide different ways to respond to test questions, like saying the answers or circling them.

  • Minimize the number of questions and problems per worksheet.

  • Schedule frequent short quizzes, rather than one long test at the end of each unit.

  • Give credit for work done instead of taking away points for late or partial assignments (with a plan for moving toward completing assignments).

  • Grade for content, not for neatness.

  • Give extra time and quieter space for work and tests.

Managing behavior

  • Use a behavior plan with a reward system.

  • Use a nonverbal signal (like a sticky note on the desk or a hand on a shoulder) to get the student’s attention and indicate the need for things like taking a  brain break .

  • Talk through behavior problems one-on-one.

  • Check in frequently to monitor the student’s “emotional temperature” or frustration level. 

What’s next

Do you have a student who you think has difficulty with attention and self-control? See a fact sheet about ADHD .

Do you think your child may need accommodations? Get tips for talking to teachers about ADHD .

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Share Classroom accommodations for ADHD

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom