Parents of children who have ADHD know that traditional classrooms can be difficult places for their children. A typical classroom might move from one subject to the next while your child is still struggling to focus on the first task.
Ordinary classrooms are often full of distractions that can keep your child off-balance. From computer screens to brightly colored walls, a typical classroom can leave a child with ADHD overstimulated and frustrated.
If you’re the parent of a child with ADHD, you may be looking for a different solution. A Montessori classroom could be the answer. Take a look at a few of the reasons why a Montessori classroom can benefit a child with ADHD.
- The Montessori Environment Purposely Minimizes Distractions
Many people don’t realize how much their environment can affect them. We take in details, such as the carpet in a room, the artwork, the furniture, without even realizing it, and so do children.
For children with ADHD, a classroom that’s full of bright colors and busy artwork can be an assault on the senses. Many children with ADHD process sensory input differently and environmental factors affect them strongly. A room painted in primary colors and adorned with cartoon characters might seem like a child’s paradise, but for your child, it can be distracting and even upsetting.
Montessori classrooms are designed to minimize these kinds of distractions. The Montessori philosophy emphasizes simplicity over stimulation. Classrooms are decorated with neutral colors and furniture and learning objects are made of natural materials.
For a child with ADHD, the Montessori environment can be a relief. With fewer distractions, your child is free to concentrate on the task at hand. What’s more, in a more minimalistic classroom, your child will probably feel less of the anxiety and frustration that can come from trying to absorb too much stimuli at one time.
- The Montessori Classroom Allows Self-Pacing
Another helpful aspect of the Montessori method is the way that it allows children to go at their own pace. A Montessori classroom is divided into different areas, each with a different focus. For example, there’s one area for math, another for language and another for practical life skills.
Rather than having all children working on the same activity at once, children are allowed to explore the different areas, choose the activity they’re interested in and stay with it until they’re ready to move on to something else.
Children with ADHD can take more time than other children to get acclimated to a project and get through an activity. Being rushed to keep up with the classroom’s pace can cause your child to feel frustrated and make them want to give up.
In a Montessori classroom, it’s OK for your child to take their time. If they want to spend more time on an art project, they can do that. If they can’t get into reading a story, they can put it down and do something else for a while, and come back to it when they’re better able to focus.
This type of self-paced learning environment may sound unfocused, but it actually helps children develop their concentration, independence and ability to self-regulate. These are important lessons for any child, but they’re particularly useful for children who have ADHD.
- Montessori Materials Are Designed to Isolate Concepts
For many children, it is very difficult to try to master several different concepts at once time. In order for your child to learn effectively, it can help to isolate concepts, allowing them to focus on learning just one thing at a time. Montessori teaching tools are designed to do just that.
For example, you may be familiar with busy boards – boards that contain things like buttons, zippers, shoelaces, snaps and other items. These are used to help children learn how to do necessary tasks to dress themselves. But for a child with ADHD, being presented with so many tasks at once can be overwhelming.
In a Montessori classroom, these tasks would be presented separately. The Montessori dressing frame is a similar concept to a busy board, but instead of containing zippers, buttons and ties, it simply contains a row of five buttons and a row of five aligning buttonholes.
The dressing frame presents the child with only one concept to learn: how to fasten buttons. It isolates the concept, allowing the child to more easily focus on the task at hand.
The dressing frame is also self-correcting – if your child makes a mistake, they’ll be able to see it for themselves and correct it. They won’t need anyone to point it out. This helps your child train themselves to pay attention to the task at hand so that they can perform it correctly.
Montessori philosophies, teaching methods, and materials are helpful for any child, but children with ADHD may uniquely benefit from a learning environment that naturally addresses some of their specific challenges. If you’re looking for the right classroom for your child with ADHD, a Montessori school near you may be the best choice.