Creating Strong Classrooms for Gifted Kids With ADHD

By Mary Anne Richey

Gifted children with ADHD not only have immense potential for learning but also for distraction. They generally have a variety of interests and curiosities that often set their minds abuzz with ideas and plans. In order for classroom material to compete, it must satisfy their heightened need for stimulation—a tough task!

Pretend for a moment that you could design the perfect classroom for a gifted child with ADHD. What would it look like? Critical factors to consider include teacher characteristics, classroom environment, and lesson presentation.

Good teachers of kids with ADHD:

  • have high energy;
  • are structured and loving, but firm;
  • make learning interesting;
  • appreciate a child’s strengths; and
  • don’t get annoyed with impulsivity, activity level, or daydreaming.

Good classroom environments for kids with ADHD include:

  • strategies to prompt kids to become active in learning;
  • seating in a distraction-free area close to the point of instruction;
  • provision of a separate area for kids;
  • work areas kept neat and free of distractions;
  • placement of students with ADHD near positive role models;
  • core classes scheduled early in the day, with P.E. or recess and lunch to break up the day;
  • supervision, especially during transition times;
  • specific classroom procedures practiced consistently;
  • modeling of organizational skills such as homework folders;
  • warnings provided before transitions;
  • motivators that stress effort and persistence;
  • acceptable substitutes for motor behavior such as stress balls;
  • sincere verbal praise for specific behaviors like paying attention;
  • guidance on becoming independent learners and monitoring own behavior; and
  • frequent visual cues between teachers and students.

Good lesson presentation for kids with ADHD includes:

  • direct eye contact before key points of instruction are delivered;
  • challenging lessons that aren’t too frustrating;
  • hands-on, experiential learning;
  • computerized instruction that’s stimulating and interactive; and
  • opportunity for students to study topics of interest with their preferred learning style.

Mary Anne Richey is the coauthor of Raising Boys With ADHD and a licensed school psychologist in Jupiter, FL.