Finding the Ideal Teacher for Your ADHD Child

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Top Qualities for Your ADHD Child’s Classroom Teacher?

What would be the “ideal” qualities that you would want for your child’s next classroom teacher? As we are preparing for this next school year many parents are making their “lists” and checking them twice, hoping that the Principal will deliver the “perfect” teacher for their child with ADHD.

David, a parent from New York City, wrote us with this question, “Do you know of a good "finding the right teacher" type of checklist? We would like to give my son's (first grade) school some direction on the type of teaching style that may work best for him, and in this way assist their placement process. Thank you very much.”

While we do not have a “Finding the Right Teacher” checklist already written, we went to work on the answer to David’s question as quickly as we could. We asked Erin King, School Psychologist, for her input and Erin replied:

“In my experience I don't see parents getting to choose the teacher anyway (unless they know the principal on a personal level). But, I guess that's not the point. It seems like classrooms with a lot of structure and clear expectations provide the best success. Also teachers that use multiple modes of teaching, such as visual aids and hands on activities. Those are the main things that pop in my head. Erin”

While Erin’s point that most of the time parents do not get to choose their child’s teacher is well taken, still parents need to know what to look for, or request, if they get the chance. So Erin’s points to look for were

  • Lots of Structure in the Classroom
  • Clear Expectations for the Students
  • Multiple Modes of Teaching, such as Visual Aids and Hands On Activities

A visit by parents to at will give parents and teachers a list of hundreds of classroom interventions. Teachers are offered ideas from other educators and psychologists in the areas of Classroom Set-Up and Management, Lesson Presentation, Modifying Worksheets and Tests for ADHD Students, and Increasing Time on Task in Students. These would important skills for teachers working with ADHD students.

We would also recommend these character traits in a teacher (really any teacher) working with ADHD students:

  • That the teacher be organized and structured, practicing self-discipline in their personal life and teaching the skills of organization and self-discipline to his/her students;
  • That the teacher be sensitive to the special needs and learning differences of his/her students with learning disabilities or ADHD;
  • That the teacher is passionate about teaching “students” and not just “subjects.” This is hard for some teachers to grasp, and teachers are often pressured by administrators to get through subject matter whether students “get it” or not. But there are some wonderful teachers who seek to reach the hearts and minds of their students with the material to be learned;
  • All of this is wrapped up in the hearts of teachers who are caring. My children have been privileged to have sat under several caring and insightful teachers through the years. They have made positive contributions to the education, and character, of my children.

Over the years we have heard dozens of comments from parents praising the efforts of some wonderful teacher, and the difference that particular teacher made in the life of their child. To get more specific input about teachers in your community, and some direction on how to find those “wonderful teachers” at your child’s school, attend your local CHADD chapter or other ADHD support group and ask parents which teachers have been particularly helpful to their children. Network with other parents in your neighborhood who have LD or ADHD kids and learn from their experiences.

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