Responding to Children with ADHD

Q. We are dealing with a class that has a couple of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and the teachers are having difficulty. Any ideas?

A. Jean Hackett, co-chair of religious education at First Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church in San Antonio, TX (405 members), recommends the following: Provide an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) orientation as part of teacher training. Have an education expert in the congregation observe the class. Modify the curriculum to better suit the students. "Remember," she says, "people with ADHD focus on everything around them, so our students actually pay better attention to directions if they are doing something else with their eyes or hands.

"We try to include visual, kinesthetic, and musical approaches," she reports. "We use excerpts from videos and recordings. We bring lots of picture books related to the lessons to pass around when we have to provide instructions." Other suggestions: Let students play with modeling clay during explanations. Use a talking stick. Seat teachers next to troublesome children.

"Most importantly," she says, "we have gotten to know our students and what their talents and interests are. Turning around a class does not happen quickly. Still it can be done given the right group of teachers and good information on ADHD. After a year of trying different approaches, this has become one of the most enjoyable and innovative classes in our program. We've come to see these kids as capable of doing anything except sitting still for long periods of time."

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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