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The Best Type of Preschool for ADHD Kids

by Alison LaFortune, studioD

Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder can be impulsive, have difficulty sitting still, be unable to pay attention and struggle with following through on tasks. Your child's behavior may cause you to question the benefits of placing her in a preschool environment; however, early schooling can help your ADHD child learn skills for better focus throughout her day.

Structured School Day

One of the first things you need to look for when considering a preschool for your ADHD child is a structured classroom. It should have defined centers, and there should be an established daily routine so that your child knows what is expected of him and when. The more the child can anticipate the next task, the better he will be at staying focused and meeting the teacher's expectations. This routine can be carried over into the academic instruction, as well, for example, language arts development on Monday, shapes and math skills on Tuesday, science on Wednesday, etc. The teacher should also use transition cues to help children transition from one activity to the next.

Discipline Strategy

Children with ADHD can be resistant to behavior corrections because they often cannot control their behavior and may not even realize they're being disruptive. It is the teacher's job to help the child understand her responsibility in the situation. To start with, the teacher needs to have clearly defined expectations and communicate these to your child. Also, it helps if the teacher can acknowledge the struggle your child faces before she corrects his behavior. The child will see the teacher as an ally and be more willing to work on his conduct in the classroom.

Class Size

Ideally, you want a preschool that offers a smaller class size, one with a ratio of 10 or fewer children to one teacher, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. A smaller class size can offer fewer distractions for your child, and it allows your child to get more attention from her teacher. With fewer children to focus on, the teacher can easily spot if a child isn't paying attention or is struggling with behavioral issues and can get her back on track, avoiding a situation that may require disciplinary actions.

Teacher Trained in ADHD

It also helps to have a preschool teacher who is familiar with the challenges associated with ADHD. You should meet with the teacher to discuss your child's individual needs, but it is helpful if the teacher already has a basic understanding of how ADHD can affect learning. For example, children with ADHD are most successful with absorbing new content if their teacher uses different techniques to deliver the lesson. Discuss various approaches to instruction with the teacher, and perhaps ask if you can sit in on a class to determine how effective the teacher is at engaging the children and making instruction time fun and exciting.

About the Author

Alison LaFortune specializes in articles on education and parenting. She has a Bachelor of Science in elementary education, and taught seventh grade science and language arts for five years.

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