If you want to become an early childcare assistant, you’ll be working in classrooms alongside teachers to support the development of young children. Throughout your career, it’s likely that you’ll be working with young children who are diagnosed with or are experiencing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, and it’s the most common mental health disorder that children will experience. Studies conducted around the world have shown that 5% to 7% of school age children have ADH– meaning that in an average classroom, there are one to three children with ADHD.
ADHD can manifest differently in children, but it often impedes their ability to focus in a classroom setting. Children with ADHD may require extra support from early childcare assistants. If you’re training to become an early childcare assistant, here’s what you need to know about helping children with this disorder.
Those in Early Childcare Assistant College Should Know What ADHD Looks Like
The symptoms of ADHD can be different from one child to the next. Most commonly, a child with ADHD is hyperactive, inattentive or impulsive, or a combination of some or all of these characteristics. When working in the classroom, graduates of early childcare assistant college should be able to recognize the symptoms of ADHD in order to provide the highest level of support for children who may be struggling as a result.
Hyperactivity is typically the most obvious indicator of ADHD, and symptoms may include constant movement or fidgeting, difficulty sitting in one place or relaxing, and trouble staying quiet. A child with ADHD can also be inattentive, leading to trouble focusing, listening, remembering things, following instructions, or paying attention. These symptoms can manifest in addition to or instead of hyperactivity. Lastly, children with ADHD may act impulsively and struggle with self-control–causing them to frequently interrupt or overreact.
How Does ADHD Impact a Child’s Ability to Perform in the Classroom?
In the classroom, students are expected to be able to pay attention, sit still, concentrate on their activities, as well as listen to and follow instructions. Children with ADHD often have a hard time meeting these types of expectations–impeding their ability to absorb information and to participate and learn at the same pace as other students. Inattentive children may have trouble following instructions from teachers or focusing on classroom activities–while hyperactive or impulsive children can be distracting to other students in the classroom.
While the behaviours associated with ADHD may at times be frustrating within a classroom setting, it’s the job of professionals with an early childcare assistant diploma to provide the support that children with ADHD need to succeed.
How Those with an Early Childcare Assistant Diploma Can Support Children with ADHD
Early childcare assistants are an important resource for children with ADHD, as they can provide them with the extra support they may require to thrive in a classroom setting. Below are a few strategies that early childcare assistants can use to meet the needs of children with ADHD.
- Keep Distractions Limited: Children with ADHD are easily distracted. In a classroom, distractions may include windows, doors, or other areas of activity. Seating a child with ADHD nearer to their teacher may help them to focus in the classroom.
- Provide Clear Instruction: When children have ADHD, they tend to have trouble focusing or remembering instructions. By making an effort to help children understand the rules and expectations, this can help them to stay on track.
- Use a System of Feedback and Rewards: Like many children, those with ADHD often respond well to consistent feedback and incentives that reward good behaviour. Children with ADHD should not feel punished for their behaviour, and it’s important for those with early childcare assistant training to make these children feel supported when they’re trying their best.
- Be Flexible: Traditional classroom schedules and structures don’t always work for children with ADHD. They may need to take a break more frequently and move around, as physical activity can help them to regain their focus and release pent up energy. Some children may also benefit from standing up during instruction, or holding an object to play with during quiet time.
Some of the strategies above may not work immediately, but it’s important that early childcare assistants are patient and persistent in developing a strategy that works for the child they’re assisting. The tools that children with ADHD develop to cope with the disorder early in their lives, as well as the support they receive, can help them to succeed in school for years to come.
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