How to Keep Students with ADHD Engaged

What captures your attention? Have you ever been so engaged in something that you could spend hours focusing on it? Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) struggle in schools when, often, there are no adaptations to engage their fluid minds. Often it takes a special approach to reach students who experience hyperactivity. However, academics agree that ADHD does not lessen a student’s ability to focus, but rather keeps students from being able to choose what to pay attention to (1). Students with ADHD can become high achievers when educators use certain strategies to attract and hold attention.


Direct Focus

Keep young learners with ADHD engaged by dimming the classroom lights and pointing out a learning activity on the board with a flash light.

Inviting a surprise guest can draw in a student’s attention.

Draw funny sketches to illustrate a piece of literature’s plot and setting.

Current events and topics of special interest to students can engage students’ curiosity. Topics like sports statistics are helpful for demonstrating different kinds of math (1).



Games which incorporate listening and attention are also great practice. Classic games like Musical Chairs and Simon Says require students to pay close attention to the teacher.


Homework? Fun?!

Having a strategy for increasing homework engagement is also easily doable. Students can make notes on reading materials with colored pencils, or draw cartoons to demonstrate the meaning of certain vocal words. Giving a child pieces of popcorn to use as counters during math homework can serve the dual purpose of counting pieces and enjoying a nice snack (1). When a child has a positive association with homework, they will likely take to it more willingly and easily.


Use Their Natural Energy

This isn’t about renewable energy sources…or maybe it is? Recent studies link outdoor time, particularly in nature, with heightened focus. Giving a child time to play outdoors before sitting down to work on an assignment can improve his or her ability to complete it thoroughly (1). Ultimately, students with ADHD can move beyond distraction and into focus-mode.


Helping students recognize what distraction feels like is an invaluable skill for students. They can recognize when their attention is drifting off-topic; they can then pull themselves back to the task at hand. Additionally, teaching a child to say and repeat things like, “I will stay focused and on-topic today,” can help him or her recognize when attention starts to drift (1). Applying these strategies at home and in the classroom will enable students with ADHD to prosper in their academic lives and become rich contributors to their school communities.


Written by David S, Novastar Prep English/Test Prep Tutor






    He complains that he is bored, and I suspect that is why he is acting up. How can we make his school routine more engaging?

  2. It is appropriate to allow the student with ADHD opportunities for controlled movement and to develop a repertoire of physical activities for the entire class such as stretch breaks.


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