Online Learning Strategies for Children with ADHD or ADD

Child sitting at the computer

Educators have found(opens in a new tab) that online learning environments have proven beneficial to a great many students, especially for children who have been diagnosed with either Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD(opens in a new tab)) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD(opens in a new tab)). 

Whether they have ADHD or ADD, students with special needs can struggle in traditional brick-and-(opens in a new tab)mortar schools without the appropriate support. For instance, students with ADHD may need to take more frequent breaks to reduce anxiety or exercise to increase their attention span. So, online school for students with ADHD could be their best alternative to in-person schools. 

Online classes can benefit students with ADHD by catering lessons to their individual needs, offering flexible scheduling and an environment that has fewer distractions than a brick-and-mortar school. 

 

What Is ADHD

ADHD is a medical behavioral disorder(opens in a new tab) that tends to be diagnosed during childhood. It is usually characterized by inattentiveness, self-control issues, and a hyperactive inability to sit still, all the skills that help children plan, focus their attention, remember instructions, and multitask. Such symptoms typically occur together; however, one or more of them may appear without others. 

 

What Are the Main Differences Between ADHD and ADD?

The line separating ADHD and ADD is fuzzy, and many mistakenly use the terms interchangeably. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is one particular type of ADHD whose primary symptoms are distractibility, inattentiveness, having poor “executive function(opens in a new tab)” and a poor working memory. Kids with ADD don’t display the hyperactive behaviors that are the hallmark of an ADHD diagnosis. 

A student applying online learning strategies for ADHD.

 

Benefits of Online School for Students with ADHD or ADD

For students with learning disabilities such as ADHD or ADD, online school frees them from the inherent pressures, stresses, aural or visual overstimulation, and many social distractions of in-person classrooms. By learning at home and at their own pace, students with ADHD get to take the time they need on tasks, review lessons as often as needed, and manipulate text digitally to better process assignments. 

However, virtual school requires planning, organization, and time management. That means that it is crucial for parents to be well-equipped with online learning strategies for ADHD students to establish realistic expectations and manageable routines that will set them up for success. 

 

Tips to Help Kids with ADHD Succeed with Online Classes

Remember, flexibility is one of the primary advantages of online schooling for a child with ADHD or ADD but that does not mean that you shouldn’t also build a predictable learning environment for them at home. 

Make a Schedule and Stick to It. The best way to help your child have a successful learning experience is by establishing a consistent routine. Design a visual schedule that includes lesson times, snack times, time for screen-free activities, and breaks for the physical activity necessary to keep kids with ADHD settled and focused on their schoolwork. And use reminders like phone alerts to delineate scheduled activity periods. 

Designate a Dedicated Online Learning Area. Kids with ADHD often have a hard time paying attention to computer screens without a supervisor to keep them on track. To make virtual school easier for them, set aside a learning space free from obvious distractions and reserve time to offer them some hands-on support by answering questions or reinforcing lessons.

Don’t Fight Fidgeting; Let It Work for You. Most children with ADHD are hyperactive and have problems sitting still. So, by simply incorporating things like fidget spinners, stress toys, or even a bouncing chair into their designated learning area, they don’t have to stop moving to keep working. 

Be Flexible by Tweaking Online Lessons for Them. Easily adaptable everything is the upside of online classes, so don’t hesitate to make any adjustments that will help your children succeed. Whether that means supplementing lessons so that they’re experiential(opens in a new tab) or using tools better suited to the learning styles of students with ADHD or ADD, such as text-to-speech software that will read lessons to them. 

A parent helping their child with ADHD accommodations for online learning.

 

Online Learning Support for Children with ADHD or ADD

Making ADHD-centric accommodations for online learning won’t be simple, but you are not alone. If you become concerned about how your child is navigating their online classes, don’t hesitate to reach for support. Whether that’s out to their primary care physician for the medical kind or to the educators here at Connections Academy® for online learning tools and resources. Other than that, the best thing you can do in a virtual school environment is to encourage kids to love learning by keeping the atmosphere positive.  

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