Teaching (ADD / ADHD) Students


Whether a student has been labelled with ADD, ADHD, or some other attention or focusing deficit, a lot of the necessary teaching and coaching skills remain the same.

In fact, a lot of the strategies promoted for such students would benefit any student.  It is just more essential for those with some such challenge to have intervention and, sometimes, accommodation.

I know, I know, some will argue that this is not the case.

I still believe it.  I have seen all manner of students improve enough times to know that it is true.  I always tell my students not to use whatever challenges they might have as a crutch.


Because we all have some weakness or learning challenge.  Sometimes, it isn’t an academic delay.  It can be difficulty in social situations, anxiety, anger, etc.  So, use whatever resources are available to cope with the challenge and work toward minimizing it whenever possible.

Not all the following tips need to be used in every case.  Different students respond differently and require their own combination – and these change over time!


  • Structure lessons in small stages.
  • Organization is very important for anyone with an attention issue
  • Have clear expectations & consequences
  • Divide tasks into small “chunks”
  • Provide seating arrangements that assist focus
  • Partnering can sometimes work well
  • Draw attention to positive accomplishments including appropriate behaviour
  • (Note:  Behaviour IS part of learning!)
  • Introduce material before reading assignments (like a preview)
  • Help underlining key terms

Computer programs

  • can be helpful
  • can be a problem!

I love technology, but it is just a tool.  It can be very distracting, particularly to those with limited attention spans.

Learning to use computers, iPads, cellphones – any technology or software has to be done in a thoughtful way.

I have found some students even today who do far better at least starting their written assignment on paper.  Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Use video, audio, text, and even kinesthetic methods to reinforce material.

Do not underestimate humour – including ridiculous comparisons and connections to help with memory.


Having a learning challenge is not an excuse – do not use it as a crutch.

You CAN…

Yes, you CAN!


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