ADHD School How to Create an ADHD-Friendly Home and Classroom By Keath Low Keath Low Keath Low, MA, is a therapist and clinical scientist with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina. She specializes in treatment of ADD/ADHD. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 28, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP Medically reviewed by Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP Facebook LinkedIn Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP, is a board-certified pediatric psychologist, parent coach, author, speaker, and owner of A New Day Pediatric Psychology, PLLC. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Compassionate Eye Foundation/Martin Barraud/Taxi/Getty Images Dr. Sydney S. Zentall, professor of Special Education at Purdue University, is an internationally known researcher in the education of children with ADHD. He focuses specifically on the preferences and responses of these students to specific learning conditions and environments and is the author of the book ADHD in Education. How Do ADHD Children Learn Best? According to Dr. Zentall, children with ADHD seek change/novelty and high-interest activities. They do best with an engaging active curriculum at school and an active home environment. Incorporating physical movement and motor activity throughout the day increases successes. When involved in a cognitive activity, children with ADHD often benefit from choices rather than solely adult-directed tasks. With their innate curiosity, these kids have a great potential for learning. The trouble arises when a child with ADHD becomes bored. The longer they have to attend to a task, for example, or the longer they have to wait for their turn, the more stimulation they need. In addition to this need for stimulation, children with ADHD also have a need to feel competence, both academically and socially. They tend to do well with activities that involve some competition which enables others to see how well they are doing—earning rewards, badges, leadership opportunities or other symbols of achievement. Social Needs and Challenges Children with ADHD also benefit tremendously from social connections and relatedness to others. Social interactions are often their most important source of stimulation. If you are a teacher, your warm support and personal attention to these students are vital. Kids with ADHD also enjoy producing emotional reactions in others. They may be drawn to the children at school who cause more trouble and they often look for or try to provoke an emotional reaction in order to feel more stimulation. Because a loud or angry response from an adult or peer tends to be reinforcing for many children with ADHD, when you must convey disapproval or reprimand a child with ADHD, a nonemotional, calm, and matter of fact response is best. Creating an ADHD-Friendly Classroom Dr. Zentall has developed a checklist for parents and teachers to utilize in order to help children with ADHD appropriately fulfill their need for stimulation and competence. Goal 1 – Needs Stimulation (Movement and Choices) Movement among centers and seatsActivity breaksActive response tasksChoice of tasks and reporting methodsChoice of jobs and responsibilitiesChoice of learning groups Goal 2 – Needs Competence A. Academic Competence1. Tasks Reduced length (chapters)Self-pacedInterests used in instructionColor (overlays, markers, paper)Relevant color usedComputers providedTeach how to visually planMake global points and outlines 2. Settings Interesting centers Use of games in teaching Animals present Music available Checklists, prompt cards used Activities or toys for delay time B. Social Competence 3 times more positives than negativesIntense, emotional rewardsPrivate, firm, soft reprimandsShow personal interest in childPeer activities with rulesCooperation is taught and rewarded Creating an ADHD-Friendly Home Goal 1 – Needs Stimulation (Movement and Choices) Available paths to run, trampolines, pools Active responsibilities that are “helpful” Available family activities (picnics, biking) Choice of homework setting and task order Choice of jobs and responsibilities Choice of homework activity breaks Goal 2 – Needs Competence A. Academic Competence1. Tasks Flexible play materials (Legos, paints)Support for pretend play, journalingBooks selected for child’s interestFamily conversations related to interestsSupport for collections/hobbiesComputers providedTeach how to visually planReduce verbalizations to the child 2. Settings Interesting homework settings Use of games in getting tasks/jobs completed Pets present Music available during homework Checklists, prompt cards used Activities or toys for delay time 3 times more positive statements than negatives Intense, emotional rewards Private, firm, soft, nonemotional reprimands Shows personal interest in child and child’s friends Friend activities with rules Strict reasonable rules and manners are rewarded Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Sydney S. Zental, Ph.D. “Friendly Class and Home Settings to Support Children with ADHD.” Closing Keynote 21st Annual International CHADD Conference on AD/HD. Cleveland, Ohio. October 10, 2009. Sydney S. Zentall, Ph.D., Friendly Settings and Tasks @ School (F SAT-S) @ Home (F SAT-H). Purdue University. Department of Educational Studies. 2009. Sydney S. Zentall, Ph.D. Email correspondence. October 20, 2009. By Keath Low Keath Low, MA, is a therapist and clinical scientist with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina. She specializes in treatment of ADD/ADHD. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for ADHD Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.