4 Challenging Student Behaviors (3/4): DISTRACTED



Every teacher has experienced the easily distracted player—the one with imagination,
interest, and enthusiasm whose concentration is broken at any unexpected sight or
sound. Often but not always this is a hyperactive child. The student who’s constantly on
the move, bouncing from one task to another and rarely completing any. Even sitting in
their seat, they are anything but still. They are “movers and shakers” in the truest sense
of the words. There is no easy solution, but providing short activities may help keep the
easily distractible student involved. The challenge in working with hyperactive children
is to balance their needs with the needs of your other students. You want to create an
optimal learning environment for the hyperactive student, mindful of the issues of peer
rejection and low self-esteem. At the same time, you want to minimize the disruption
to your other students. That requires considerable structure, support, and consistency.
It also demands patience and restraint in the face of often difficult and frustrating
Teachers often find that their distracted/ hyperactive students display a lack of
awareness of what everyone is/ should be doing, they cannot sit still, and have difficulty
resisting the temptation to touch surrounding objects in the classroom environment or
physically going to other parts of the classroom. They are impatient and frequently want
to be called on right away to participate. Some students may request frequent bathroom
or water breaks for the purpose of leaving the class. They may speak over the teacher
or repeat things that the teacher or other students say. They avoid certain tasks and find
anything to play with (shoelaces, carpet, etc). They have a hard time taking turns, and
will frequently distract other students from completing their own tasks.
● Develop and be consistent with focus devices
● Reinforce classroom routines and vocabulary
● Be consistent with consequences and rewards
● Be Specific with instructions and don’t give too many at once
● Create a personal reward system like a sticker book for them to HOLD and keep
during the day and let them put the stickers in it at the end of the day
● Have a lot of variety of activities in your lesson plan● Keep the activity moving and be aware of the pace of your lesson
● Create more hands on activities
● Pair them with more focused students for partner work
● Give the student a task or a specific goal at the beginning of the class
● Allow student to stand at the back of the classroom instead of forcing them to
stand with the other students
● Play focus oriented games like the Invisible Ball and integrate these techniques
throughout your lesson plans
● Give a “preview” talk about upcoming activities to prep the student for transitions
● Play Do This Do That
● Give them a specific task in the chill out corner
● Have a backup game or activity for the student if they need to take a break
● Have an object for the student to hold or play with during an activity so that they
can get their energy out
● Implement drama based strategies like artifacts
● Do some research on techniques for children with learning disabilities
● Have spots or pieces of tape for your younger students to sit on
● Teacher proximity
● Give students specific opportunities to really use their body and voice at high
capacity (such as during warm up or outside time) so that students have an outlet
● Use dynamic mediums/ activities that switch frequently
● Adjust your own attitude of what really is a problem
● Give the student a role that allows them to have responsibility. A teachers aide or
assistant, that way you create an alliance with the student


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