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Helping an ADHD Student in Theatre Class

  • 1.  Helping an ADHD Student in Theatre Class

    Posted 09-07-2021 22:04

    I am reaching out for some advice and resources for a young theatre teacher with an ADHD student. She reached out to me with the following email.

     "! I have been doing team building and ensemble building for almost 2 weeks and I have one student that I am struggling with. He has severe ADHD and because of that he gets bored very quickly and causes some shenanigans and very verbally tells me he is bored or doesn't like what me or what we are doing constantly and has become distracting. I have tried talking with him and getting to know him, but there is a wall and I am struggling to break it down. Do you have any suggestions?"

    Can you help me with some ideas to help this young theatre teacher?



    Russell Saxton
    Theatre Education

  • 2.  RE: Helping an ADHD Student in Theatre Class

    Posted 09-08-2021 07:07
    In addition to teaching students with ADD and ADHD in the classroom, I have been blessed to raise a severe ADHD child. I highly recommend: The Gift of ADHD Activity Book: 101 Ways to Turn Your Child's Problems into Strengths by Laura Honos-Webb, Ph, D.

    ADD/ADHD is a gift in many ways and theatre teachers can use these gifts! We are told by brain scientists that people don't really multitask. Well, our attention deficit kids are the exception. They are the ultimate multitaskers. Give the student a job. Make him a "student director" for the scene. ADD/ADHD students possess powerful imagination, searching insight, and unusual intuition. These are all traits that are essential in theatre. Dr. Honos-Webb's book illustrates myriad strategies from turning what others see as "problems" into strengths.

    Thank you for sharing this teacher's struggle and giving our community an opportunity to help.

    William Eyerly, PhD, EdD
    Academic Dean
    Director Upper School Theatre
    The Village School of Naples

  • 3.  RE: Helping an ADHD Student in Theatre Class

    Posted 09-08-2021 13:33
    I agree with Dr. Everly.

    If props or game cards will be used later in the class period, ask the student to organize them when he has done as much as he can handle during the current activity.  When he checks out while doing scene work or rehearsals, ask him to run lines with a struggling student.  Or have him organize the class reading library.  Or he might work with another student to construct a prop or sound cue list for a play you are considering or will be performing.  He can also be the official answerer of the teacher's phone during class--after a phone answering etiquette lesson.  (Wow, that one worked for me!)

    Over many years, I was privileged to see remarkable progress toward self-control made by students with ADHD in the theatre classes I taught, but only if they feel valued and really engaged.  It can be a challenge, true.  I think the mental switch for me was learning to regard the students with ADHD as having gifts that could be beneficial to our theatre program, not just distracting and aggravating traits.

    CJ Breland
    Retired Theatre Arts Educator