A little girl with twin braids wiggles in her chair. A timed math test over the multiplication tables lies on the desk in front of her. Around her, all of her classmates work feverishly to finish on time. The little girl stares off into space, completely lost in her own imagination. She notices that her classmates are writing and then suddenly remembers that she is supposed to be working too. She starts answering questions. When the timer buzzes and the tests are collected, she becomes frustrated and angry, because she failed to finish her test. This little girl has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children with ADHD struggle with finishing their work and making transitions from one subject to the next. Teachers can help ADHD students learn how to transition by preparing them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Teachers can prepare students physically by incorporating set classroom routines. When Christ taught His disciples, he would move off to a separate place before beginning His teaching, and He would often use something that had just occurred as a starting point for His new lesson. Christian teachers should do the same thing: remove distracting elements, be predictable in class structure, and review previous lessons in order to connect them to the next lesson. Christ also rephrased much of His teaching and varied teaching methods until His disciples understood what He wanted them to know. Teachers can break down class material into small units that are manageable for an ADHD student to complete.
ADHD students should be mentally prepared for any task that they need to complete. Teachers can help prepare them mentally by having each child keep a record of his progress by marking off what he has completed. The teacher can also give advance warnings about how much time is left for a certain project so the student can refocus and finish on time. By giving oral and written directions, teachers reaffirm what they expect their students to do. Christ told His disciples what tasks they were to perform, but He also left the written Word. Teachers can also give students plenty of wait time between asking the student to perform a task and then expecting a response.
Teachers should emotionally prepare ADHD students to perform their best. To limit frustration and anger, the teacher can eliminate timed tasks. ADHD children need plenty of time to make transitions. If a child feels pressured to do something too quickly, he can become frustrated to the point of tears and can often develop a state of learned helplessness. Encouragement and small rewards for finished work can greatly boost a child emotionally. Christ constantly encouraged his own disciples to be of good cheer. He understands that humans run on emotions which is why He inspired “a merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance” (Proverbs 15:13). The best gift a teacher can ever give is a warm-hearted smile.
If the little girl with twin braids is to succeed in the classroom, then her teacher must prepare her physically, mentally, and emotionally for what is going to happen. Frustration will be erased from her face and in its place will be a warm smile. She can keep herself on task by checking off a seatwork chart so that she is not caught off guard when it is time to move on to a new subject. The role of the teacher makes the difference.
– Hannah S. Bowers