What Teachers See: How ADHD Impacts Learning in Grade School

By Amanda Morin

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In grade school, increasing workloads can be hard for students to keep up with. For some kids, this is when symptoms of ADHD first become noticeable—and your child’s teacher may see signs before you do. The following signs are typical of ADHD, but some can also occur with other issues.

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What Teachers See: How ADHD Impacts Learning in Grade School

ADHD can make it harder for grade-schoolers to finish their schoolwork and get along with the teacher and other students. Here’s what your child’s teacher may be seeing.

Starts Assignments but Doesn’t Complete Them
What the teacher sees:
• Your child starts to work independently in class, but gets irritated by the noise another child is making.
• Your child starts off participating in a group project but then drifts off and stops contributing.
• Your child goes to look something up in a book and just keeps reading, instead of going back to her work.

The issue: Kids with ADHD can be easily distracted and get derailed in the middle of assignments.

Is Always Talking
What the teacher sees:
• Your child interrupts with questions or comments during instructional time.
• Your child irritates other kids by talking during quiet work time.
• Your child has trouble getting to the point when she answers a question.

The issue: Kids with ADHD often talk excessively and blurt out their thoughts.

Doesn’t Work Well in Groups
What the teacher sees:
• Your child is argumentative and always has to have the last word.
• Your child won’t let other kids make a presentation and insists on being the one to talk.
• Your child calls other kids “stupid” and puts down their ideas.

The issue: Kids with ADHD can get frustrated when they don’t get what they want. They might have trouble filtering what they say and understanding how they come across to others.

Appears to Be “Spacing Out” During Lessons
What the teacher sees:
• Your child asks “what?” even when she seems to have been listening.
• Your child doesn’t remember the teacher’s directions.
• Your child doesn’t know what items she’s supposed to have for a project.

The issue: Kids with ADHD often have trouble focusing and paying attention.
What Teachers See: How ADHD Impacts Learning in Grade School
What Teachers See: How ADHD Impacts Learning in Grade School

Your child’s grade school teacher may be the first person to spot the signs of ADHD. Comparing notes and talking regularly with the teacher can begin the process of getting the best help for your child in school, from informal accommodations to more detailed behavior intervention plans.

These signs are typical of ADHD, but may also occur with developmental delays, executive functioning issues, auditory processing disorder, sensory processing issues, anxiety disorders, mood disorders and oppositional defiant disorder.

About the Author

Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin

A parent advocate and former teacher, Amanda Morin is the proud mom of kids with learning and attention issues and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

More by this author

Reviewed by Bob Cunningham, M.A., Ed.M. Dec 04, 2014 Dec 04, 2014

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