Preventing problems during transitions and noninstructional time for ADD/ADHD students.
Transitions and noninstructional time are typically the most disastrous times of the day for ADD/ADHD students. The time between activities and periods takes 15 percents of the school day in an average classroom. Hyperactive children have major problems during recess, riding the bus, waiting in the lunch line, on the way to the bathroom, and so on.
What are some ways to help?
- Avoid catching the student off guard, prepare him/her for any change in routine (e.g, assemblies, guest speakers, field trips, substitutes teachers).
- Talk about what will take place and teach the necessary behaviour, role play is helpful, especially for young students, in preparing for upcoming changes.
- Use signals (e.g, flashing the lights, ringing a bell, playing music) to indicate that an activity is coming to an end and the children need to finish whatever they are masters of these techniques. Such signals are helpful at all grade levels.
- Build in stretch breaks and brief exercise between activities, particularly ones that require a lot of sitting or intense work.
- Use relaxation and imagery activities and exercises for calming after recess, lunch and P.E.
- Help physically guide through transitions. Some children may need you, an aide, or another student to give extra help, stay close, and model appropriate behaviour during transitions.
- Reward smooth transitions, some teachers use individual points or table points to reward students or table clusters of students who are ready for the next activity.
- Some teachers use whole class incentives for transitions, one technique is to place a circle on the chalkboard. Prior to making the transition (e.g, cleaning up after an art activity and settling down before the next activity), the teacher signals the students, tells them he/she will count to a certain number, and them proceeds to count. If everyone in the class manages to be ready with the cleanup by the time the teacher finishes counting, the teacher places a checkmark in the circle. If the whole class is not ready, the teacher says, oh, well, maybe next time. Of the class earns a specified number of checks in the circle by the end of the week, there is a class reward.
- For the behavioral problems that take place during out-of-classroom activities, you need to plan site strategies above and beyond what may be spelled out in your site discipline plan. Brainstorm strategies with your colleagues, including the administration and consultation team.
- There may need to be more structuring of recess activities. ADHD students often have difficulty waiting turns and entering games. They may do better with hula hoops, jump ropes, relay races, and simon says activities. Cross-age student helper may assist with some great activities at your site.
- Clue in aides and other staff members who are working with these students and have difficulties with them out of the classroom. They may benefit greatly from some awareness training about these children’s behaviour and special needs. Include them when possible in staff development about ADD/ADHD or learning disabilities, make sure the classroom teacher is aware of out-of-classroom behavioural problems so that he/she can alert parents.
- Prepare for independent seat work time:
- Make sure activities/assignments are clearly explained.
- Write down what students should be doing during that time
- For certain students clarify and structure even further
Examples to consider:
- Write a list of what to do. Have student cross out each task when completed.
- Use a timer to complete a reasonable amount or work. Reward for completion/on task behaviour.
- If assignment is difficult or lengthy, shorten or modify as needed. Don’t give independent work that is very difficult.
- Assign the student a buddy or use cooperative learning groups to clarify questions as needed. When teacher is with another group, avoid interruptions by telling class that they must ask a classmate or their group first. Only if no one in the group can answer the question may the teacher be asked.
- Provide study carrels and quiet areas for students who tend to be distracted during seat work time.
- Some students need complete quiet and may benefit from earphones or ear plugs to block out noise.
- Make sure necessary supplies are available so students can work during independent time without excuses. Remember to have extra(but less desirable) materials available for unprepared students.