ADHD Vs ADD? Everything you Need to Know

Throughout this article the terms ADD and ADHD are used interchangeably. ADD stand for attention deficit disorder. At this time the most widely used term is often not hyperactive. These children are generally not disruptive in the classroom and their behaviours are not necessarily annoying or noticeable to the teacher. However, add can be very problematic to the child, causing him or her to significantly underachieve in the classroom and experience low self-esteem.

Behavioral characteristics of attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity (ADD)

  • Easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • Difficulty listening and following directions
  • Difficulty focusing and sustaining attention
  • Difficulty concentrating and attending to task
  • Inconsistent performance in school work-one day the student may be able to do the task, the next day cannot; the student is “consistently inconsistent”.
  • Tunes out-may appear ‘spacey’
  • Disorganized-loses/can’t find belongings (papers, pencils, books); desks and rooms may be a total disaster area
  • Poor study skills
  • Difficulty working independently

The term ADHD is the current descriptive diagnostic term in the revised third edition of the American psychiatric association’s diagnostic and statistical manual (1987). It is the label used to describe the student who may have many of the above-mentioned characteristics in addition to many associated with a hyperactivity component.

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Behavioural characteristics of attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD)

  • High activity level
  • Appears to be in constant motion
  • Often fidgets with hands or feet, squirms, falls from chair
  • Finds nearby objects to play with/put in mouth
  • Roams around classroom-great difficulty remaining in seat
  • Impulsivity and lack of self control
  • Blurts out verbally, often inappropriately
  • Can’t wait for his/her turn
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others
  • Often talks excessively
  • Gets in trouble because he/she can’t stop and think before acting (responds first/thinks later)
  • Often engages in physically dangerous activities without considering the consequences (for example: jumping from heights, riding bike into street without looking)l hence, a high frequency of injuries.
  • Difficulty with transitions/changing activities
  • Aggressive behaviour, easily over stimulated
  • Socially immature
  • Low self-esteem and high frustration

Note: not all symptoms apply to each child, and symptoms will vary in degree. Each child is unique and displays a different combination of behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, interests, talents and skills.

Sad, Learning, School, Reading

It is important to recognize that any one of these behavior is normal in childhood to a certain degree at various developmental stages.

For example, it is normal for a young child to have difficulty waiting for his/her turn, to have a short attention span, and to be unable to sit for very long. However, when a child exhibits a significantly high number of these behaviour when they are developmentally inappropriate (compared to other children their age), it is problematic. These children will need assistance and intervention.

What is the frequency of ADD/ADHD

The estimated incidence of ADHD varies widely, depending on the studies you read and the tools used. It is estimated by experts that 3 percent 10 percent of school-age children are affected. The estimated figures most frequently cited in the literature are 3 percent to 5 percent. However, this is very likely an underestimation due to the fact that many ADD girls often go undiagnosed. ADHD is far more common in boys than girls. Hyperactivity affects at least 2 million children in the United State alone, girls more commonly have ADD without hyperactivity.

What are the possible causes of ADD/ADHD

The causes of ADHA are not known at this time, the scientific and medical communities are gaining more and more knowledge about how the brain works and what affects attention and learning. As with many disorders, it is not always possible to identify a cause. At this time, ADD/ADHA is usually attributed to heredity or other biological factors.

When parents have a child who has problems of any kind medical, physical, psychological, or social they feel guilty typically and blame themselves. Many parents believe that they did something that may have caused their child to have problems. This feeling of guilt and blame should be dispelled, if a child has ADD/ADHD, it is no one’s fault.

The following are possible causes of ADD/ADHD

  • Genetic causes: We do know that ADHD tends to run in families, a child with ADD will frequently have a parent, sibling, grandparent, or other family member who has similar school histories and behaviour during their childhood.
  • Biological/physiological causes: Many doctors describe ADHD as neurological inefficiency in the area of the brain which controls impulses and aid in screening sensory input and focusing attention. They say there may be an imbalance or lack of the chemical dopamine which transmits neursensory messages. The explanation is that apparently when we concentrate, our brain releases extra neurotransmitters, which enable us to focus on one thing and block out competing stimuli. People with ADD seem to have a shortage of these neurotransmitters.
  • Complications or trauma in pregnancy or birth
  • Lead poisoning
  • Diet: ADHD symptoms linked to diet and food allergies continues to remain controversial in the medical community, current research has not given much support to a dietary connection. However, there are many strong proponents of this theory. Future research will perhaps shed more light on this topic.
  • Prenatal alcohol and drug exposure: We are all aware of the impact of the high number of drug exposed infants who are now of school age. These children have often sustained neurological damage and exhibit many ADHD behaviour. Currently the statistics in the state where I teach are very alarming. Over one in every ten babies born in California today are exposed to drugs in the womb. Scientific research has not yet proven a causal relationship between prenatal drug exposure and ADD. However, drug exposed children clinically exhibit many neurological deficits and behaviour that we see in ADD children.


There are many critical factors to consider when working with ADD/ADHD students. I have attempted to provide a list that is as useful and complete as possible one that I hope will make a difference in the way students learn and teacher teach.

  1. Teacher flexibility, commitment, and willingness: to work with the student on a personal level. This means putting forth the time, energy and extra effort required to really listen to students, be supportive, and make changes and accommodations as needed.
  2. Training and knowledge about ADD/ADHD: It is essential that teachers are aware that this problem is physiological and biological in nature. These children are not out to get us, deliberately. Their behaviour aren’t calculated to make us crazy, this awareness helps us maintain our patience, sense of humor, and ability to deal with annoying behaviours in a positive way. Every school site (elementary and secondary) should have inservicing to educate staff about ADD/ADHD, the effects of the disorder on the child’s learning and school functioning and appropriate intervention strategies.
  3. Close communication between home and school: It is very important to increase the number of your contacts and establish a good working relationship with this population of parents. If you are to have any success with ADD/ADHD students, you need the support, cooperation and open line of communication with their parent.
  4. Providing clarity and structure for the students: This guide emphasise the need for structure, students with attentional problem need a structure classroom, a structured classroom need not be a traditional, no-nonsense, rigid classroom with few auditory or visual stimuli. The most creative, inviting, colourful, active and stimulating classroom can still be structured. Students with ADD/ADHD need to have structure provided for them through clear communication, expectation, rules, consequences, and follow-up. They need to have academic tasks structured by breaking assignments into manageable increments with teacher modelling and guided instruction, clear directions, standards and feedback. These students require assistance in structuring their materials, workspace, group dynamics, handling choices, and transitional times. Their day needs to be structured by alternating active and quiet periods. No matter what your teaching style or the physical environment of your classroom, you can provide structure for student success.
  5. Creative, engaging, and interactive teaching strategies: that keep the students involved and interacting with their peers are critical, all students need and deserve an enriched, motivational curriculum that employs a variety of approaches. If you haven’t had training in multisensory teaching strategies, cooperative learning, reciprocal teaching, leaning styles, or the theory of multiple intelligence, you need to update your teaching skills and knowledge for today’s classroom. These are good topics for staff development days.
  6. Team work: on behalf of the ADD/ADHD student, many teachers find team teaching extremely helpful. Being able to ‘switch’ or ‘share’ students for part of the school day often reduces behavioural problems and preserves the teacher’s sanity. It also provides for a different perspective on each child. Teachers cannot be expected to manage and educate these very challenging students without assistance. A proper diagnosis is needed. With many ADD/ADHD students, medical treatment is critical to the child’s ability of function in school. Management of the social/behavioural problems these children often exhibit requires help from counselling (in school and often privately). In school counselling centres can assist in many ways, such as: behaviour modification (charts, contracts), time-out/time-away, conflict resolution, training in social skills, relaxation techniques, controlling anger, and cooling down. You need cooperation and partnership with parents and support and assistance from administration. You are all part of the same team.

Elicit the assistance and expertise of your site resources, refer the child to your site consultation team or student study team, members of the team will probably observe the student in your classroom or other school settings. They can be of great support by attending meetings with you and parents to share concerns, provide information and brainstorm “creative” solutions. Many outside referrals for medical/clinical evaluations are initiated at the school site. Your communication with the team is very important.

You can facilitate matters before coming to your team by:

  • Saving work samples: (any papers or work that reflects the child’s strengths and weaknesses) collect a variety of written samples.
  • Documenting specific behaviour you see(g, falling out of chair, writing only one sentence in 20 minutes of independent work, blurting out inappropriately in class) it is important that teachers document their observations and concerns about these students. This documentation is crucial for many children to get the help they need, teachers are in a position to facilitate the necessary medical/clinical evaluation and intervention that may be needed for student success.

Note: Many times parents don’t recognize that their child is experiencing the problems that we are seeing in school. Children with ADD/ADHD present their pattern of behaviour year after year. It often takes parents a few years of hearing similar comments from different teachers to become convinced that they should pursue some sort of treatment for their child.

There is another reason for teacher documentation to be placed in the student’s records. Physicians will often see the child during a brief office visit, not notice anything significant and conclude that the student doesn’t have a problem. Often the implication is that the problem is with the teacher/school. When the school records show a history of inattention, distractibility, impulsivity, hyperactivity, a physician would be more prone to take the school/parent concerns seriously. The physician/clinician needs to determine that the child’s problem are pervasive (visible in a number of settings over a period of time). Good documentation (observation and anecdotal records) help supply the necessary evidence.

  • Communication with parent: it is important to share positive observations about their child along with concerns. Be careful how you communication and voice concerns. Never tell parents, I’m sure your child has ADD, communicate your concerns by sharing specific, objective observation. ‘Becky is very distractible in my class, I have noticed that she … ‘tell parents the strategies you are using to deal with the problems in the classroom. Then tell parents that you are involving your site team for assistance, and let the school nurse or counsellor make recommendations for outside evaluation if deemed necessary.
  1. Administrative support: It is critical that administrators be aware of the characteristics and strategies for effectively managing ADHD students so they can support the teacher in dealing with disruptive children. Some of these students are extremely difficult to maintain in the classroom and require highly creative intervention. You will certainly need administrative support (e.g, having a student removed from class when behaviour interfere with ability to teach or other students’ ability to learn). Some intervention from highly disruptive children include: time-outs suspensions, half-days, cross-age tutors rotating into the classroom to keep the child on-task, and having parents spend the day in class with the student and meeting with the consultation team.

It is important to distribute these students and avoid placing a large group of ADD/ADHD students in the same classroom. Loading one classroom with a high number of ADHD students would burn out the best of teachers and push them to seek another profession. However, it is rare to find a classroom without at least a few ADD/ADHD students (as well as students with learning disabilities)

One of the keys to success is home-school communication and cooperation. When parents are difficult to reach and won’t come to school, follow through with home-school contracts, monitor their child’s homework, and so on; administrative assistance is also very much needed.

  1. Respecting student privacy confidentiality: It is important that a student’s individual grades, test results, special modifications of assignments or requirement, as well as medication issues are not made common knowledge.
  2. Modifying assignments, cutting the written workload: what takes an average child 20 minutes to do, often takes this student hours to accomplish (particularly written assignments). There is no need to do every worksheet, math problem, or definition. Be open to making exceptions, allow student to do a more reasonable amount (e.g, every other problem, half a page) accept alternative methods of sharing their knowledge such as allowing a student to answer questions orally or to dictate answers to a parent and so on.

Ease up on hardwriting requirements and demands for these students. Be sensitive to the extreme physical effort it takes these children to put down in writing what appears simple to you. Typing/word processing skills are to be encouraged.

  • Limit the amount of homework: If the parent complains that an inordinate amount of time is spent on homework, be flexible and cut it down to a manageable amount. Typically, in the homes of ADHD children, homework time is a nightmare. Many teachers send home any incomplete the classwork, keep in mind that if the student was unable to complete the work during an entire school day, it is unlikely that he/she will be able to complete it that evening. You will need to prioritize and modify.
  • Providing more time on assessment: These students (often very intelligent children) frequently know the information, but can’t get it down, particularly on tests, be flexible in permitting students with these needs to have extra time to take tests, and/or allow them to be assessed verbally.
  • Teacher sensitivity about embarrassing or humiliating students in front of peers: Self-esteem is fragile; students with ADD/ADHD typically perceive themselves as failures. Avoid ridicule, preservation of self-esteem is the primary factor in truly helping these children succeed in life.
  • Assistance with organization: Students with ADD/ADHD have major problems with organization and study skills, they need help and additional intervention to make sure assignments are recorded correctly, their work space and materials are organized, notebooks and desks are cleared of unnecessary collections of junk from time to time, and specific study skill strategies are used.
  • Environmental modifications: Classroom environmental is a very important factor in how students function. Due to a variety of leaning styles, there should be environmental options given to students that consider where and how they work, where the student sits can make a significant difference. Lighting, furniture, seating arrangements, ventilation, visual displays color, areas for relaxation, and provisions for blocking out distractions during seat work should be carefully considered. Organize the classroom with the awareness that most ADD/ADHD students need to be able to make eye contact with you, have you close by to step forward and cue, be seated near well-focused students and be given a lot of space. There are many environmental factors that can be regulated and modified to improve ADD/ADHD student’s classroom functioning considerably.
  • Value student’s differences and help bring out their strengths: provide many opportunities for children to demonstrate to their peers, what they do well, recognize the diversity of learning styles and individual approaches in your classroom.
  • Belief in the student-not giving up when plans A, B, and C don’t work: there are always plans D, E, F, .. success will require going back to the drawing board frequently. These children are worth the extra time and effort.

A list of don’ts for students with attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity (ADD)

A teacher says and does hundreds of things during the course of the school day. Every word, gesture, and action affect the students he/she work with. The following list of don’ts was carefully prepared for all professionals to consider when working with these special children.

  1. Don’t assume the student is lazy in the classroom, a student with attention deficit disorder or a learning disability is typically not lazy. There are other reasons for their non-performance in the classroom.
  2. Don’t be fooled by inconsistency or assume the student is deliberately not performing because you have observe that at times he/she is able to do that kind of task/assignment. Students with attention of deficit disorder have inconsistency as a hallmark characteristic of their disorder. Some times they can do the work, sometime they cannot.
  3. Don’t give up on any student, these challenging students often try the patience and could discourage any teacher. These children need your persistence and belief in their ability to succeed no matter how difficult and frustrating it is.
  4. Don’t give up on behaviour modification techniques, students with ADHD often do not respond well to behaviour modification and positive reinforcements for a long period of time. You will need revamp, revise, and modify your behaviour management system frequently. It is still worth the effort!
  5. Don’t forget to involve your support staff, bring students to consultation team/student study team for assistance. Your team should support you in making observations, helping with behavioural management and classroom strategies, attending meetings with parents, providing information and making necessary referrals. Networking with the other professionals at your site eases the load.
  6. Don’t neglect to involve parents, invite parents to visit the school, observe their child in the classroom, and meet with you to plan strategies for working together on behalf of their child. Be sensitive to parents’ frustration and fears. It is very painful and stressfull for them to have a child with special problems and needs. Let them know that your primary concerns is helping their child to succeed and feel good about himself/herself.
  7. Don’t surround yourself with negative peers who are critical of students, aren’t open or receptive to new techniques and strategies, or are not updating their skills.
  8. Don’t listen to previous teachers who only want to pass on the negative traits and characteristics of their students to you. Assume the best of the child. Allow each student to start the year with a fresh, clean slate.
  9. Don’t forget the quiet student in the background who can easily go through the year unnoticed and anonymous.
  • Don’t be afraid to modify, make exceptions, and later assignments for students as needed. Your goal is the student’s success and building/maintaining self-esteem. That requires flexibility and special arrangements with certain students. It is okay and fair to make exceptions for individual students with special needs.


Once a child is identified and diagnosed with ADHD there are many ways to help the child and the family. The most effective approach is a multifaceted treatment approach which may include:

  • Behaviour modification and management at home and school
  • Counselling family counselling is recommended because with an ADHD child in the house, the whole family is affected.
  • Individual counselling to learn coping techniques, problem-solving strategies, and how to deal with stress and self-esteem.
  • Cognitive therapy to give the child the skills to regulate his/her own behaviour as well as “stop-and-think” techniques.
  • Social skills training (sometimes available in school counselling groups)
  • Numerous school intervention (environmental, instructional, behavioural)
  • Providing for physical outlet (e.g., swimming, martial arts, gymnastics, running-particularly non-competitive sports)
  • Medical intervention (drug therapy)
  • Parent education to help parents learn as much as they can about ADHD so they can help their child and be an effective advocate. Parent support groups are excellent sources of training, assistance, and networking. Most communities also have parenting classes and workshops dealing with a variety of helpful management strategies.

When pursuing any treatment, it is a good idea to ask the school nurse and other parents of ADHD children (perhaps through an ADD support group) for references. Seek out doctors and therapists who are knowledgeable and experienced specifically with treating children with ADHD. Medical treatment if often extremely helpful and cam make a major difference in treating children with ADHD. However, it is never to be used without the employment of behavioural, environmental and other interventions at home and school.

Physical activity is also very important, activities such as martial arts (particularly aikido) are commended because they increase the child’s ability to focus and concentrate.

If a child displays the symptoms of possible ADD/ADHD, school interventions should be implemented regardless of whether the child has been diagnosed with ADHD. School personnel may encourage the parents to pursue the evaluation for the purpose of determining how to best help and meet the needs of their child.

Preventing Behavioural problems in the classroom through management techniques

The most critical factors for preventing behavioural problems, particularly for students with special needs (e.g ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities), include

  • Clarity of expectation
  • Teaching what is acceptable/unacceptable in your classroom
  • Structure and routine
  • Predictability, consistency
  • Much practices, modelling and review of behavioural expectations and rules
  • Clear, fair consequences
  • Follow-through
  • Teacher understanding, flexibility, patience
  • Heading off problems with preventive tactics
  • Teacher assistance on a personal level.

These children are in particular need of a classroom that is structured, not chaotic, they need to feel secure within the parameters of their classroom, knowing precisely what is expected of them academically and behaviourally.

Teach your rules

  • Make rules few, clear, and comprehensive. Many teachers have students discuss, decide on, and write the classroom rules to give more ownership in classroom.

Example A:

  1. Come prepared to work
  2. Follow directions and stay on task
  3. Keep hands, feet and objects to yourselves.
  4. Be kind and courteous to others.

Example B:

  1. Follow directions
  2. Pay attention
  3. Work silently during quiet time
  4. Do your best work
  • Explain the rationale for your rules, any time spent on teaching your rules and modelling all behavioural expectations is time well spent.
  • Post rules (written or pictorial) in at least on visible spot. Teach with examples. Role-play rules in action. This is appropriate at all grade levels. Review and practice frequently throughout the school year.
  • With every behavioural expectation you communicate (1) explain, (2) write it down (3) demonstrate it in action and (4) let students practices. Example: practice 12-inch voices. What does it sound like? Is this a 12-inch voice.
  • Communicate rules and expectations to parents in writing

Positive reinforcement

There is no substitute for positive reinforcement in the classroom. It is the best behaviour management strategy and the one that builds self-esteem and respect. Catch students doing what you want them to do. Recognize and praises specific instances. Examples:

  • I like the way Cathy remembers to raise her hand and waits to be called on. Thank you Cathy.
  • Adam, I appreciate how quietly you line up.
  • Joey, you did such a good job paying attention and staying with the group.
  • It makes me so happy when we are all settled down, and ready to listen

Some examples of positive reinforcement in the classroom:

  • Legitimate praise and acknowledgment are the best reinforcers
  • Reward students with privileges (e.g, classroom jobs and responsibilities)
  • It’s generally a good idea not to use the “big guns” (major incentive and rewards) unless they are needed in the classroom. Start with easy, small rewards and incentives
  • Many students are motivated to work for tangible rewards (stickers, prizes, food)
  • Other suggested reinforcers include:
  • Choosing a game to play with a friend
  • Earning free time
  • Earning breakfast or lunch with the teacher
  • Reading or looking at special interest magazine
  • Using the computer alone or with a friend
  • Listening to music with tape recorder and earphones
  • Working with clay, special pens/paper, whiteboards
  • Removing lowest test grade
  • Leading a game, perhaps as captain of team
  • Skipping an assignment of student’s choice
  • Bringing to class/demonstrating something of the student’s choice
  • Reducing detention time
  • Chewing gum privileges at specified times

Classroom incentives

Classroom incentives are great motivators, here are two that work particularly well for many teachers:

  • Students earn tickets or play money to be used towards a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly auction of raffle. Students can use their accumulated tickets/money to buy assorted toys, items, or privileges from their teacher.
  • Marbles or chips are placed in a jar by the teacher when students are caught doing something well or behaving appropriately. When the jar is filled, the class earns a special party. (e.g, popcorn, pizza, ice cream), activity, or field trip of some kind.

Assertive discipline 

Have clear consequences for following and not following the rules. Use warnings with incremental consequences when students do not follow the rules. Give positive attention when students are behaving appropriately. Various classroom management system include the following:

Color-coded cards

This is a graphic system for monitoring behaviour which is used in many classroom. There are many variations of this system. It usually involves a pocket chart with an individual envelope or compartment for each student (identified by name or number). All students start the day with one color (e.g pink card) in their envelope. When there is an infraction of the rules-after warning-the color is change (e.g to yellow) resulting in a consequence such as five minute of time-out.

With the next infraction, the card is changed to the next colour (e.g blue) resulting in stronger consequences. After another infraction, the red card appears, resulting in a more severe consequence.

With this system students start each day with a clean slate, for greatest effectiveness, allow your class to devise the consequences associated with each change of color. Teachers who do not want to post the cards for everyone to see may choose to pass out a pink card at the beginning of each day. As a student’s colour need to be changed, the teacher may go to the student’s desk and change the card with the student quietly and privately.

Some teachers use a variation of this system, they link each of their classroom rules to a certain colour. When a student breaks a specific rule, the teacher places a color card corresponding to the rule broken into the child’s pocket. In this way, students are clearly aware of what it is that they did inappropriately. The progressive consequences follow the change of card.

Numbered card 

Some teachers have students with behavioural monitoring needs go home each day with a number card.

5    very well behaved, great day!

4    good day.

3    so so day

2   we had some trouble today

1   we had a very difficult day

Home/school communication

Many teachers send home some type of notification to parents as to how their child behave that day or week. Often teachers using the colored card system send home the final color card at the end of the day with each student (or only with those students in need of close home/school monitoring).

Many teachers send home some type of form or slip indicating how well the student behaved during the week. These notices are usually sent home every Friday or on Monday s for the previous week. It is the student’s responsibility to return the forms to school with their parent’s signature.

Response costs

Some teachers use a system of payment/fines (response cost) with students. Example: using plastic colored links (found in catalogs selling math materials), the teacher awards monetary value to the four colors of the links: yellow-penny, red-nickel, green-dime, blue-quarter.

The teacher pays students for good behaviour (a) the whole class earns points and the teacher awards all students a certain value for their links; (b) individually, for on-task behaviour; (c) groups, for cooperative work assignments/projects. The possibilities are limitless. Students are fined for offenses such as: no homework, getting out of seat and off-task behaviour. Every week or every other week students get to buy small treats or privileges with their money (value of links)

How to avoid behaviour problem

Behavioural problems often occur when the students are undirected. Planning well and beginning instruction promptly are generally good deterrents to behaviour problems.

Try to greet students at the door as they arrive in class, offer directions as needed before they enter the room, a smile and hello is a nice way to start the day. Handing the students a brief assignment to work on as they enter the room is also a deterrent to behavioural problem.

The same applied for claiming students after recess, lunch, gym, art, or music. Be there on time, these transitional times are frequently the worst times for ADHD students.

Time outs and time away

Time outs or time aways for ADHD students are necessary in most cases. These children often can’t handle all of the stimulation in a classroom and become worked up and sometimes out of control. Time away from the group is often needed to calm them down and help them regain self-control.

Use time outs and time aways as needed:

  • In the classroom, away from distractions
  • Buddy or partner up with another teacher (preferably cross-grade) for time outs. Student is brought to the receiving classroom with an independent assignment to work on for a specified amount of time. This is usually a very effective system.
  • In the counselling center.

Here are some tips for time outs and time aways

  • Try directing the student to time out calmly and positively, example: Michael, I would like for you to sit with your hands and feet to yourself. If you can’t handle that, go back to the table, you can join us when you are ready to sit without touching others.
  • Some teachers use a think-about-it chair for a specified amount of time, for example, 3 to 5 minutes to think about their inappropriate behaviour.
  • Other teachers have students sit away from the class until they feel ready to join the class again. A typical rule of thumb is one minute of time out per year of age. So, a six-year-old may have about six minutes time out or away from the group.
  • As a next step, other teacher send the students to sit outside the room, when the student feels that he/she can behave properly, he/she comes voluntarily inside the door, and waits there quietly until the teacher acknowledges him/her. The teacher might say something like: I am glad you’re ready to follow our rules. Please join us.
  • If the student continues to be disruptive, the next step is often to be sent to the counselling center or another classroom for time away, and then the office.
  • Teachers with access to telephones have good results since they can call home or the parent’s work place together with the student.

Note: Primary teachers should read section 21, what about kindergarten? This section contains many behaviour management suggestions successful with young students.

Caution: teachers need to be careful not to overuse time outs and to be sure that the child is aware of the behaviour that caused him/her to receive the time out.

Behavioural contracts

Write a contract specifying what behaviour is expected and what the reinforcement will be when the behaviour/task is completed. Behaviour modification methods are often effective with students and should always be tried. Be aware that effectiveness for ADHD students may be short-lived and your rewards/systems will need to be revamped frequently. Don’t be discourage, give it a try, involve your school counselor for assistance. Of course, you will need parental involvement and support.

Proximity control

Stay close to students with attentional or behavioural problems, circulate in the classroom, a hand n the shoulder or a direct look with quiet reminder is effective. Students with ADD/ADHD should be seated close to teachers and next to or between well-focused students. Avoid seating them along the periphery. Often second row is better than first row for teacher-pupil eye contact. Avoid seating near learning centers, the door, windows, or others distractors.

The personal connection

Take students aside to talk about their behaviour, talk calmly. Give warnings and explain what the consequences of their breaking the basic rules will be, then follow through.

Talk it out, when there is a problem, talk to the student about it in private conference, try (a) passive listening, hear the student out without interrupting; (b) acknowledgement responses, give verbal listening, respond, ask reflective questions, such as come sit with me… maybe we can find a solution, I am not sure I understand what you mean. Can you tell me more?

Try to state the problem in terms of the specific behaviour and avoid messages to the student that he/she is bad, restate the guidelines, limits, and consequences in a quiet, calm manner.

Parent contacts are crucial: elicit parental support through conferences, phone calls and regular, frequent reporting of behaviour and work completion. Remember; with all parental contacts communicate that you care about the student. Always include positives and recognition of what student is doing right along with your concerns.

Appropriate Behaviour Modelling

Use cross-age tutors or peers to model specific types of behavior that the student is having difficulty with. Take photos of students engaged in positive behavior (which can be photographed during role play) and display them in the classroom.

Rather than hanging them in the room, you may show them when needed to remind them  about your expectations. It is very effective to have a photo of the student seated properly and appearing to be on-task.

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