The following teaching tips point the way to success at home or in class. Patience, consistency, and time are your secret tools to engage your challenging students.
1. Understand the attention challenge that an ADHD child or a puppy has and provide a structured, predictable environment.
2. Establish a relationship/friendship with the student’s parents or the puppy’s owners. Learn what teaching/training techniques the parents have successfully or unsuccessfully practiced.
3. Be aware of sensory triggers that may effect a child’s or puppy’s behavior. These triggers may include the ﬂuorescent lights, noises, clothing, shoes, odors, or foods.
4. Use a consistent reminder prompt with your students to signal the “stay focussed” message. Children and puppies respond well to sign language.
5. Lessons need to have rules that are clearly understood by students/puppies and caregivers. Explain any consequences for breaking the rules. Provide printouts of these rules and consequences for everyone involved.
6. Encourage caregivers to be very watchful for the slightest improvement in their child’s/puppy’s behavior. Never skimp on praise, and reward each repetition of desired skills.
7. Give clear, brief directions in simple, concrete terms. Each step needs to be mastered before introducing the next step.
8. Lessons should be divided into short sessions with short breaks in between.
9. Remember that many households have two working parents. “Home exercises” should simply practice what has already been taught.
10. Occasionally bring in an older student or more mature, obedient dog to support you with one-on-one modeling behavior.
11. A teacher/trainer’s physical presence is vital so be sure to stay close by your student. Giving an ADHD child an encouraging rub on the back, a high-ﬁve, or a
pat on puppy’s head is powerful.
12. Linking an event or activity with special clothing or accessory is very effective to improved attention and performance. For example, a change of clothes (like a school uniform), a special hat, or a speciﬁc doggy vest or collar form strong associations that it is time for a speciﬁc activity.
13. Fidget or chewable objects for the ADHD child or puppy during break times can signiﬁcantly improve their ability to remain on task.
14. Provide a walk area or free play area where a student or puppy can “air out” their brains for a few minutes.
15. Provide a “chill” quiet area for the ADHD child or puppy to go when they have a sensory overload challenge.
“No signiﬁcant learning occurs without a signiﬁcant relationship.” — Dr. James P. Comer