Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a group of disorders that include inattentiveness, over-activity, and/or impulsivity. Daycare providers must recognize the signs of symptoms of ADHD as well as how to manage children diagnosed with the disorder.
In Part 2 of our interview with special educator and author of A Parent’s Guide to Developmental Delays, Laurie LeComer, details the important aspects of ADHD in the daycare or preschool setting.
OwnADaycare: What can parents or early childhood educators do if they suspect children are exhibiting ADHD behaviors?
Laurie LeComer: If parents or early childhood teachers believe a child of theirs may be exhibiting symptoms of ADHD they should take a close look at the behaviors of suspicion. When and where are they occurring? If the environment is modified in some way, is there a difference in behavior? Parents should bring up their concerns with their pediatrician, and ask daycare providers or teachers for cooperation in noting suspicious behaviors – so that they have a good picture of their child’s behaviors in various settings.
OwnADaycare: Could you give us some tips to help preschool teachers or daycare providers help manage ADHD behaviors?
Laurie LeComer: Daycare providers and preschool teachers can help children who may be exhibiting ADHD behaviors. They should:
- Take care to be encouraging to the child. It is more helpful to take a “Partner in Success” or “Guide” approach when a child is missing information or not able to control impulses.
- Look at the daily routines and make sure there are frequent opportunities for gross motor activities. Gross motor movement that is timed carefully before a child needs to sit and focus can make a big difference for kids.
- Teachers can incorporate little jobs or bathroom/drink breaks to get a child up and moving.
- Use the child’s name to gain their attention, or get down to the child’s level and get their eye contact before relaying an important piece of information.
- When talking to the entire class, placing a hand on the child’s shoulder briefly can help them maintain focus.
- Be generous with repeating directions when needed. First and foremost, with strengths and weaknesses, the children are there to learn.
- Set up a reward system, where the child (or class) will earn preferred objects or activities for good behavior. Choose the expected behaviors carefully. You want to place positive focus on something the child does well.
- Sit the child near you during learning times. Close proximity can help the child maintain focus.
- Teach the child a secret signal – one between just you and the child. The signal may signify “I need your eyes on me,” or the signal may mean the need for a break, for example, ”walk to the water fountain and walk back.”
- Be clear and simple with your instructions and realistic with your expectations. Children with ADHD are not trying to be bad, and at young ages, they are truly not aware of how their behaviors are affecting others.
OwnADaycare: Do you have anything else to add?
Laurie LeComer: One additional comment: ADHD, inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsivity, and disorganization – none of these mean diminished intelligence. Children with ADHD have the same ranges of intelligence as their typical peers, but they usually have more negatively and discouraging messages directed at them. As teachers, and parents, model the encouragement, patience, and kindness you would want for your own family members.
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