The Grumpy Giraffe

Critiques on social and education issues

The kid who would not sit still

I don’t mean the ADHD kids, although they also fall under this category. I mean the kids who generally have to get up, take a stroll around the room (or a sprint), run their hands along some stuff, and then maybe decide to sit down.


I teach at a Saturday school, basically a private tutoring centre, but class-wide. In Layman’s terms, that means I teach 5 classes, each an hour long, each class ranging from 7-35 students.

Yeah, it’s pretty much a zoo.

And this kid, we’ll call him Jon, is very hyperactive. He sings mainstream songs randomly, speaks his thoughts whenever, likes to get up and do something even though he clearly knows the rules.

What do you do with this kind of kid?

His mother is thinking of getting him tested for ADHD. First off, I want to clarify/debunk a common stereotype with ADHD kids. Many caregivers and out-in-the-left-field critics cling to the notion that ADHD kids are just really fast thinkers, that they just jump from thought to thought without thinking through their actions.

Part of it is true.

ADHD kids are actually slower at grasping what is perceived because their synapses do not snap as fast as ours. Synpases are these bursts of connection as neurons transfer information between themselves. Fast synapses = faster communication. Think of it as a relay race where you pass the baton from one person to the next. With ADHD people, their synapses are slower; the baton is passed slower. As a result, they try to catch up to what is currently being said, so they try to jump past the synapses. This is what makes them look frazzled: they scramble to catch up to the current topic, but they don’t have a solid understanding of the previous topic.

To help students with ADHD catch up, the teacher can repeat the instructions, or have them clearly visible on the board or a large piece of paper so they can read it for themselves, and know what’s going on. Moreover, do not try to use subtle social cues (ex. sarcasm). They’re already busy trying to catch up, they don’t need extra baggage.

So what I’ve been doing with Jon is stating my instructions clearly, and writing the really important ones (like the agenda of the day) on the board. I put a check mark next to the item we have done so he knows where we are. I sometimes repeat myself so he can catch up easier.

Usually, I’m very pro-agency for my students. I like to let them have a choice in the activities we’re going to do for the day. It makes school less boring. However, I always tell Jon specifically what he needs to do for today. The key is to keep them busy. I don’t mean just assigning boring, meaningless busy work. I mean to give them meaningful activities that are not too complex.

Moreover, they may want to ask you many questions, and that’s normal. Always have some sort of back-up plans for the child. I told Jon the steps he needs to do when he wants to ask a question. First, look in his notes. If the answer is not there, ask his elbow partner. If his partner is equally confused, then he can ask me. This cuts down a load of work for you.

Most importantly is not to treat the child like an alien. Try your best to address every child by his or her name. Children love to be addressed by name because there’s some sort of special privilege by being acknowledged by the teacher. It either means you’re important enough to be addressed personally, or notorious enough. Verbal recognition is great because it boosts the child’s self-esteem, but doesn’t necessarily shun the other students.

I’ve never taken any Special Education courses on how to teach these types of students. I’m only a student teacher, and those Spec Ed courses are AQs, so they are available only after graduation.

For any teachers reading this, feel free to comment on what could be done better. I’m always looking for feedback on my teaching practices.


One comment on “The kid who would not sit still

  1. tumblehometalks
    January 18, 2013

    Very good description of what is not hyper in ADHD – many people do not understand slow processing speed in what appear to be quick kids and even more don’t know how to fix it.

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This entry was posted on October 8, 2012 by in education, school, teaching and tagged , , , .


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