ADD/ADHD in the Classroom: Intervention #1 – Move it! (Part 4)

If you have been following this website you will be aware that the focus over the past weeks was firmly placed on ways in which the constant desire to move about among children dealing with hyperactivity can be accommodated in the classroom. Implementing these strategies is obviously very important if we want to serve the educational needs of these children. A great ‘side effect’ of this will be that not only the children dealing with ADD/ADHD will benefit. I am convinced that the things that I have shared are based upon solid educational principles and they therefore have the potential to influence and improve education across the board. We need not stop at accommodation however, there’s more! I am convinced that life in your classroom can be improved even more if you do not stop with accommodation but move beyond that to reduction. By that I mean the facing of the problem of hyperactivity in order to achieve the goal of lessening the need among affected children to be constantly on the move, especially within the context of the classroom.
By focusing on reduction as a strategy I do not mean that we will be able to completely ‘cure’ ADD/ADHD in the classroom. What we will be able to do, however, is to create an environment in which the hyperactive component of the condition can be faced head-on and reduced significantly. This is not an unattainable goal. Simply doing some work to understand the nature of hyperactivity and then applying what you are learning to your teaching can make a massive difference.
I have already analyzed some of the elements and consequences of hyperactivity in an educational setting but allow me to once again stress an important point. When we discuss hyperactivity the pertinent issue is not only the constant urge to move. This can be successfully accommodated (as we have seen over the past few weeks). We need to move beyond the obvious symptom (movement) to looking ‘under the hood’ by asking the question: What is causing this? And here is the point that I want to stress: Your greatest enemy in the area of hyperactivity is something that you can’t see namely the inability to focus. The constant movement (that you can see) is therefore indicative of a much larger issue. Any strategy to deal with hyperactivity should therefore have ways to reduce this lack of concentration and focus at its core.
Here are some elements of a hyperactivity reduction strategy that I believe to be important and that I will be discussing over the next few weeks:
Intentional Curriculum Development and Lesson Planning: If you are aware that there will be kids in your class that really struggle to focus and concentrate it will make perfect sense to organize teaching and learning in such a way that it will address them where they are. Teaching plans should clearly focus on different ways in which children can be drawn in and focused on the subject at hand. Recognizing this need and working hard to meet it is half the battle!
Emphasis on Relational Learning: We need to recognize that there are many different ways in which people learn. Attempting ‘cookie cutter’ methods, hoping that it will meet all the needs, is therefore simply not going to cut it. It seems that relational learning (e.g. through mentoring, small groups, counseling etc.) is an important learning style where hyperactivity is concerned. Many teachers shy away from these methods since it is regarded as very hard to implement. I plan to show you some ways in which this perceived difficulty can be addressed for the benefit of all.
Creative use of media: I do not need to tell you that we live in a media saturated society. Many teachers perceive this to be a massive part of the problem in contributing to a shortening of attention spans and there is no denying that this is indeed true in many instances. We should not, however, fall for the trap of believing that media should only be viewed as a negative. I will profile some media resources that are very much part of the solution! Becoming familiar with these resources and competent in using them can move your teaching of hyperactive children to a whole new level.

Individual attention and interaction:
As a teacher you are in the best position possible to have a profound influence on the lives of young people, which is probably one of the main reasons why you to into the profession anyway. Recapturing this sense of calling and applying it in a compassionate and professional way on the lives of individual children will have a powerful impact on your relationship with them and on their journey of learning. Stay tuned for some ways in which this goal can be achieved.
The points above should be seen as the ‘roadmap’ for our discussion on the reduction of hyperactivity. I want to emphasize that this is an absolutely attainable goal. Please check back next week for some pointers on how to work towards it.