Classroom Accommodations for Students with ADHD

KoolMinds Team

What is an Accommodation?

An accommodation is a change or adjustment in the way that things are usually done. 

People who learn and think differently often face barriers to learning and getting work done. But schools, workplaces, and society can make changes to remove these barriers so everyone can do their best work. These changes are called accommodations. i 

Accommodations are provided to help "level the playing field". Without accommodations, students with disabilities may not be able to access grade level instruction and participate fully on assessments. All students with disabilities (those with active IEPs or 504 Plans), are entitled to the appropriate accommodations that allow them to fully participate in state- and district-wide testing. ii

Accommodations for students with ADHD

ADHD affects how you pay attention, sit still, and control your behavior. Students with ADHD exhibit several symptoms that can get in the way of learning such as inattention, being easily distracted, difficulty sitting still, being hyperactive, and interruptive. This can make school really hard because their brains don’t allow them to do the things that are expected of you at school.

Accommodations are commonly categorized in four ways: presentation, response, setting, and timing and scheduling. There are several accommodations to consider within these categories. The student's IEP/504 team will select accommodations and those accommodations should be chosen based on the individual student's needs. It is important to have ongoing evaluations on the effectiveness of the accommodations and to change/adjust them as needed. If you have a child with ADHD it is good to know these accommodations because you can request them to be a part of your child’s IEP or 504 Plan and they can help your child to be successful at school.


  • Give short and simple directions and use examples.
  • Break down large assignments into smaller parts.
  • Give directions out loud and in writing. 
  • Teach to the student's learning style: visual, tactile, auditory and/or multi-sensory.
  • Repeat/clarify instructions.


  • Check for understanding during the lesson and repeat directions if needed.
  • Use visual or graphic organizers. 
  • Provide outlines of the notes and lessons, allow a student to tape-record assignments or provide them with a note-taking partner.
  • Provide fidget tools to help the student focus.
  • Provide an assignment book and supervise the writing down of assignments. 
  • Provide an extra set of books for the students to keep at home.
  • Create a signal between the teacher and student that helps them focus and get back on track. 


  • Give preferential seating - some students might do better sitting near the teacher and others might do better sitting at the back of the class.  
  • Place the student's desk away from the busiest or most distractive areas in the class (for example, away from the door and windows). iii
  • Have the desks in rows, with the focus being on the teacher and have them spaced apart from each other.
  • Create a designated quiet area in the room that is free of distractions.
  • Have the student sit next to positive role models. Choose classmates that can help them stay on task and that might be less likely to distract them.
  • Allow the student to use flexible seating such as wiggle chairs, standing desks, footrests, seat cushions or resistance bands on chair legs. iv
  • Reduce visual and auditory distractions.

Timing and Scheduling

  • Have a visual and written schedule posted in the classroom. It is really helpful to follow the same schedule and rules. Using a visual schedule can help the students know what to expect and it helps them prepare mentally for transitions. 

  • Schedules and routines are very important. If possible, let the student know ahead of time about any changes to the schedule.
  • Provide opportunities for the student to move and take breaks throughout the day.
  • Provide a quiet space for the student to take tests.
  • Schedule tests in the morning.

  • Allow extra time for oral and/or written responses.


The last thing we want to discuss is accessibility. Accessibility is the concept of whether a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible. It means that these things can be used by everyone however they encounter it. The University of Minnesota described it best when they said "Eliminating barriers for an individual upon request (accommodation) is good and important. Better is creating an inclusive environment for all (accessibility). By making things accessible for all, you are being proactive. There will be times when you must provide accommodations. But the more you practice accessible design, the fewer on-demand accommodations you will have to make." v
This visual comes from the University of Minnesota and does a great job at showing us the difference between an accommodation and accessibility.  
Remember that everyone is different so if one thing doesn't work, try another.

Here are a few articles with more strategies and some great solutions for addressing common ADHD challenges at school. 

Here is a video that discusses 14 strategies
 to help children with ADHD.
Does your child have ADHD and need more help? 
Contact KoolMinds today to learn more about our tutoring programs and private school. 


[i] Andrew M.I. Lee, JD. Accommodations: What they are and how they work. Accessed 13 September 2021. Accommodations: What They Are | Understood - For learning and thinking differences
[ii] Cortiella, Candace. (2005) No Child Left Behind: Determining Appropriate Assessment Accommodations for Students with Disabilitites. National Center for Learning Disabilities
[iii] Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). Accessed 11 September 2021. Classroom Accommodations. 
[iv]Amanda Morin. Classroom accommodations for ADHD. Accessed 11 September 2021.
[v]Accessibility vs. Accommodation. Accessed 22 September 2021. Accessibility vs. Accommodation | Accessible U ( © 2021 Regents of the University of Minnesota

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