Dealing with Hyperactive Children

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Farah Najam

Farah Najam has considerable experience of teaching children at different levels. She has worked as a coordinator and has supervised and guided teachers at various levels. She has completed various online courses from such leading American Universities as Harvard University, UCLA and San Diego, where she received high grading. She has appeared on radio programmes (FM 101) as an educational expert. She also develops lesson plans for schools.

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Dealing with Hyperactive

Mrs. Salma Ali was extremely perturbed and a little confused as well. She simply couldn’t understand why it was that whenever she went to pick up her four-year-old son from his Montessori, he was fast asleep. And on the days when he wasn’t asleep, he seemed quite drowsy. After engaging in some futile inquiries with his teachers, she decided to investigate further. The result was horrifying. Apparently, her son was so hyper that he just would not let the teacher conduct the class properly. Hence, the teacher made him take some sleep-inducing medicine. This would put the child to sleep, and the class would be conducted peacefully. Mrs. Salma Ali immediately removed her son from that particular school.

This, unfortunately, is the state of affairs nowadays, where most of the people are all too willing to remove the problem instead of solving it. When it comes to hyperactive children, most of the parents and teachers look towards short-term solutions. Such ‘solutions’, unfortunately, will never make the hyperactive child any more educated. On the contrary, such children remain ignorant and are held back in the lower classes, simply because they are not up to standard. Dealing with hyperactive children on an academic level involves, first and foremost, the acceptance that this particular student is hyperactive and, hence, should be treated differently than the rest. The teacher will have to recognize the signs and symptoms characteristic to a hyperactive child and then deal with him/her accordingly.
So what are those signs and symptoms? A few common ones are as follows: 

On the move

There are many students, who will sit still for at least a certain period of time before they start to get restless. The hyper ones will rarely sit still. They squirm in their chair if they are not allowed to move. They like to move around, jump about and fidget with things.

Attention deficit

It’s true that there are many students, whose attention span barely lasts an entire class period. However, you cannot make a hyperactive child listen to you for even two minutes. His/her eyes will be constantly darting around, even as you speak. These children are unable to give their full attention to anything and have a very short attention span. 

High energy level

The teacher may get tired running after a hyperactive student, but that student will never get even remotely lethargic. Hyperactive students quickly move about from one thing or another, and never seem to run out of energy. Once the teacher has established that the child is hyperactive and will disrupt the classes, he/she can take some or all of the following measures to ensure that the child is dealt with in an effective manner, and most importantly, in a manner which will be mutually beneficial to both the teacher and the student. The teacher will have a peaceful class, and the student will learn something at the end of the day. Some of the more effective measures are as follows: 

Be firm and exercise self-control

There is nothing more ‘fulfilling’ for a hyperactive student than to see an elder, whether it’s a parent or teacher, lose self-control and vent out all anger at the student. He/she will simply feel accomplished and will probably get worse. At all times, don’t let your temper bring out the worst in you. Keep calm and composed, even if you are seething inside (yes, these children can be highly irritating but there’s no reason, why they should know it is working). 

Channel the energy

If the child is hyperactive and, hence, full of energy, you as a teacher can learn, how to channel that energy into more constructive activities. Instead of consistently telling the child to sit still, you can get him/her to do tasks which involve moving about. Ask them to pin something up on the notice board, fetch the chalk, clean the black board and distribute the exercise books. If they don’t succeed in finishing that task, don’t get impatient. If they drop the books, for instance, help them gather it up and encourage them to get on with the task. 

Sense of belonging

Ignoring hyperactive children can be extremely counter productive as they are usually calling out for attention. On the other hand, if you scold them, you will be playing into their hands – what they want from you is a reaction. Therefore, instead of whiling away your energy in screaming, shouting or scolding, you can make them feel more involved in the classroom through various means. Asking them to do easy yet engaging tasks around the class will make them feel more involved and, hopefully, keep them a little busy for a while. 

Do away with lectures

Create a classroom atmosphere, which involves hyperactive students doing something rather than listening to you. Listening to a monotone voice gets unbearable, even for the average students. You can ask all your students to stand up and stretch; act out the poems they are reciting; act out the stories they are reading. The possibilities are endless and are only limited by your imagination.

Schedule your classes sensibly

If your school does not have a strict timetable, and you are allowed to set your own schedule, then make one which is conducive for the students. Don’t put mathematics and English consecutively. Separate them with art or a recess. Similarly, the attention of students is the most lax in the period before the recess, so you might like to have a lighter lesson scheduled. Keep your schedules flexible, so you can alter them according to the response and attentiveness of your students. 

The above were just some of the possibilities, which can be exercised to keep the hyperactive student in control and direct his/her energy to more constructive activities. The truth is that every child is different. What works for one might not work for another. Therefore, if there are two or more hyperactive children in one class, it might become a teacher’s worst trial. However, these children can be dealt with – it only requires some time, effort and skill. At the end of the day, if a teacher is really willing to work with these children and ensure that they graduate after having learnt something, he/she can definitely do wonders with his/her students.

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