Students with ADHD are often misunderstood by their teachers. We hear from Dov Benyaacov-Kurtzman, CEO of Wellstyle Community Hub ADHD Centre, and Trauma Coach and Founder of ADHDfest, Dilani Gaunt, to tell us how the classroom could work in favour of students with ADHD.
Dov Benyaacov-Kurtzman is CEO of Eden Wellstyle and Wellstyle Community Hub ADHD Support Centre, which aims to comprehensively support families, professionals, teachers, parents, school governors, GP doctors, and other community members affected by ADHD. Dov explains: “In the dynamic symphony of a classroom, each student brings their unique melody of strengths, challenges, and learning styles. Among them, students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) require tailored support to help them thrive.
“Building a deep understanding of the student’s behaviour forms the cornerstone of any plan. This involves recognising the triggers for both challenging and desirable behaviours, as well as the resulting outcomes.”
Dilani Gaunt was a mental health social worker for 20 years before being diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 49. Two of her children were also diagnosed with ADHD at age 11 and age 17 causing Dilani to fight for amendments to be made for them in the classroom.
“My daughter was given fidget toys to help her focus, but then other children complained that the fidget toys were putting them off, or children who didn’t have ADHD wanted to borrow the fidget toys and if they try and grab at it, it gets confiscated.
“I think when children are struggling with concentration and distracting others, it’s really important that they understand boundaries because they need to know what is appropriate and what isn’t appropriate, but dealing with it in a punitive way is not going to alter their behaviour.”
Dov agrees explaining: “Identifying specific behaviours that pose challenges and offering desirable alternatives is key. By highlighting unacceptable behaviours and illuminating the path to acceptable ones, educators can foster positive change. For example, if a student frequently interrupts the class, encouraging them to raise their hand and wait patiently to be called upon becomes the desirable alternative behaviour.
“Empowering strategies in teaching students with ADHD involve tapping into their inherent enthusiasm and problem-solving skills. Encouraging students to devise their own solutions for tasks not only fuels their creativity but also instils a sense of ownership and responsibility. For instance, if a student struggles with organisation, allowing them to create a system that works for them, such as a colour-coded folder system, a special homework notebook, or a personalised timetable, can make a significant difference.”
Dilani has some useful tips: “A helpful system might be setting up a reward system for a child with ADHD. Which might seem juvenile, but because that will increase their dopamine it will make them more likely to do it, rather than using a punishment system. It’s a struggle with doing homework, if they could set up a homework club for people that struggle to do their homework at home they’d get that additional support. My friends with neurotypical kids say their kids would learn the spellings in about half an hour. But for my kids it’s two hours of screaming, crying ‘I can’t do it, I can’t understand it, I can’t remember it’ and it’s because their executive function isn’t the same, that’s why they can’t remember it. At the very best, they would go in and get a decent mark and by the end of that day, have no idea of any of those spellings again.”
There’s a positive outlook from Dov : “With the right support and understanding, students with ADHD type brains can not only succeed in the classroom but also develop skills that will serve them well in all areas of life. Our role is to guide them on this journey, providing the skills and support they need to navigate their unique path to success. By prioritising self-care and self-compassion, teachers can create a nurturing and positive learning environment for both them and their students.”
Learn more about ADHD here: Edentherapiesharleystreet.co.uk