What teachers see: How ADHD impacts learning in middle school

By Amanda Morin

Expert reviewed by Bob Cunningham, EdM

Middle-schoolers with ADHD may have a hard time organizing and completing more complicated work. They may also struggle with peer relationships. Here’s what your child’s teacher may be seeing.

Has trouble switching gears

  • Your child does the daily problem on the board but then forgets to hand in homework.
  • Your child comes to class after socializing in the hallway and can’t settle down.
  • Your child moves from one subject to the next and can’t remember what was read last.

The issue: Kids with ADHD might have trouble multitasking and switching focus to new activities (even if they’re part of a daily routine).

Doesn’t know how to fit in

  • Your child doesn’t know how to enter a group conversation and stands off to the side.
  • Your child gets told by other kids that what's being shared is “TMI.”
  • Your child shows off or clowns around in class in order to get noticed.

The issue: Kids with ADHD often have trouble judging other kids’ reactions, which can lead to awkward social interactions.

Does things halfway

  • Your child writes three paragraphs of a five-paragraph essay.
  • Your child joins a club, but only shows up for a few meetings.
  • Your child is enthusiastic about an exciting long-term project but never turns in the final product.

The issue: Kids with ADHD often have difficulty following through and maintaining interest.

Doesn’t know how to get things done

  • Your child has trouble with long division and word problems even while knowing calculation facts.
  • Your child's book report is missing important details.
  • Your child’s science fair project is too simplistic and doesn’t follow the guidelines.

The issue: Kids with ADHD have difficulty with planning, breaking tasks into smaller steps and handling multi-step activities.

Key takeaways

About the author

About the author

Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days. 

Reviewed by

Reviewed by

Bob Cunningham, EdM has been part of Understood since its founding. He’s also been the chief administrator for several independent schools and a school leader in general and special education.