My top tips for challenging children



I’ve taught a lot of ADHD children. Probably twenty, which isn’t quite an entire class but is getting on for that. Imagine the fun of teaching a whole class of ADHD children? So I’m no expert, but in my experience most ADHD children are boys. Also some of them (remember this isn’t representative) are, in my opinion, suffering from DDD (Dad-deficient disorder) and are desperate for a male role model in my lives.


  1. Speak to them often. Tell them what’s coming up in the next lesson. Talk to them about how they’re playtime was. Tell them when you’re next going to talk to them.
  2. Ritalin sometimes works. It often doesn’t. Sometimes it makes things worse – or weirder. If parents are thinking of medicating, it’s important to be in close conversation with them about how things are going.
  3. Give them space and physical activity. Allow them to write standing and sitting. It seems to me that ADHD children are often very kinaesthetic.
  4. Find a male role model for them – preferably a class teacher – I don’t know how this works out in secondary (where it may be counter-productive), but in the primary schools where I have worked this has been successful.


I have many funny stories about children with different levels of autism, but I need to tell them in a pub, not in this medium. As a teacher I relied on a good TA or integration assistant to support children with autism. As a BeCo (Behaviour Co-ordinator) I rely on the Educational Psychologist and LA support services (which in Birmingham are excellent) to tell me what to do.


Quiet Children


These are sometimes the worst – they won’t willingly engage with any activities. At earlier ages they may have been elective mutes. I’ve taught a few, including a Polish girl who returned to school a few weeks to visit, but still wouldn’t speak to me. Suffice it say, I find them very challenging.


  1. Analyse what their self esteem is like using the BASIS approach.
  2. Do lots of team problem solving and challenges where they have to engage with their peers.
  3. Take them to a field and make them practice SHOUTING!
  4. Talk to their parents.
  5. Find another adult that can work with in smaller settings than a whole class.
Whole School


Sometimes you need a whole school approach – the methods being used in the individual classrooms aren’t working, the challenges are coming thick and fast and everyone is struggling. We’re about to launch one at my school where every child will score themselves out of 10 at the end of the week in a circle time session. The criteria will be quite rigid – 7 will be normal. 10 will be role model, handing in all homework and generally being perfect. 5 will be a couple of warnings and 1 will be an exclusion. As will score it on Google Spreadsheets, the scores will then come to me as BeCo and I will present a ‘class’ of the week prize in Monday assembly. After that I will begin giving prizes for class that make progress from week to week (so our nightmare Year 4 class don’t miss out) and also give prizes for children that get a whole loads of 10s. This system isn’t for everyone, but we need it at the moment. We may not need it for ever either. – I’ll report in a few weeks on how it’s going.
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