We get a lot of students with ADHD that struggle with studying for mathematics. I'd like to take some time to share some tricks and techniques for managing this learning difference and using it to your advantage. I have a particular insight into this subject because I have ADHD and managed to survive all the way through a masters degree in physics. It took a long time to figure out what works, for me it didn't happen until after college. I'm hoping to save you some time and share the techniques that worked for me so you can apply them in junior high and high school.
Steps for managing you math class with adhd
1. First you need to realize that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. While the majority of information you hear about ADHD is negative, I prefer to look at the positives. ADHD is a lack of focus on subjects that do not interest the student. However it is HYPER focus on subjects that fascinate the student. That is why we like to use the phrase "learning genius", not learning difference or worse learning disability. Therefore it is essential that an ADHD student see the relevance of mathematics to their own life. They need to be sold on the value of mathematics first, then the attention will follow. Believe it or not mathematics is fascinating, but more often than not it's taught in a dry fashion. The key is not to try and turn the student into a mathematician, but to convince the student that a knowledge of mathematics will make them better at whatever their passion is. And believe it or not mathematics will make you better at all things, see step 2.
2. A regular exercise routine is SO important for managing ADHD. The natural endorphins from exercise act as a focusing agent and are way more effective than Ritalin or Adderall. The afternoons can be particularly difficult when you have ADHD because your focus has been exhausted. Figure out what time of day your student tends to really lose focus and make that exercise time. After 45 minutes to an hour of exercise your student’s focus will be restored. You will then be able to get another few hours of quality, focused work time in.
3. Be very careful with the standard prescriptions: Ritalin and Adderall. Some families have had great success with theses medications so this is not a hard rule, I'm just sharing my experience and encouraging you to exercise caution. Try natural means first.
4. Regular meditation cures ADHD. A bold claim I know. If your student does 15 to 20 minutes of mediation EVERY morning it will have a profound impact on their attention. One might ask themselves, what is the cause of ADHD? Is it an genetic condition? Or is it a product of our society? My opinion is the later. Kids are increasingly engaged in attention decreasing activities such as video games and cell phones. Many of my ADHD students play an insane amount of video games each day, like 5 hours plus. When I worked at a school for severe learning disabilities the common denominator was the students played 8 hours of video games per day. 8 HOURS, a full time job! Video games are designed to make every passing moment filled with activity. What this does is make moments without activity unbearable. Each and every moment the mind feels the slightest bit bored or inactive, it can be immediately filled with a cell phone game. This provides a hit of dopamine to the brain. What happens when the brain gets used to externally stimulated hits of dopamine? Well the levels go down when there is no stimulus. The result is that just "being" becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Imagine how hard studying would be when your normal mode of existing is in an action packed video game? Or alternatively your could get in touch with "the in between moments", which is what meditation is. The act of becoming comfortable without external stimulation. Is that not the exercise we should be engaged in to counter the attention draining effects of society? Meditation does not have to have religious implications, it's simply learning how to be comfortable without stimulus. In fact if you do it for long enough you might find lack of stimulus to be a blissful state, not an uncomfortable one.
5. Diet. Another commonality I've seen from many ADHD students is an insane sugar intake. Did you know sugar is a drug that crosses the blood/brain barrier? Like all drugs sugar comes with a crash, and you can't focus when you are crashing. A healthy diet leads to focus and energy.
The main takeaway here is I highly encourage you to manage your ADHD with natural remedies. Good mental and physical health are essential for managing ADHD and should be given a chance before looking into medication. If you implement everything I've listed above I guarantee you will see a huge difference in your child's attention and focus. Remember ADHD is a learning genius, and we need to tap into that. By making mathematics relevant to the students' passions you will engage their hyper focus, then the grades will fall into place naturally.