EIGHT STRATEGIES TO FACILITATE LEARNING AND MEMORY
These strategies are adapted from Morse, P. A. and Montgomery, C.E., Neuropsychological evaluation of traumatic brain injury, in R.F. White (Ed.) Clinical Syndromes in Adult Neuropsychology: The Practitioner's Handbook. The Netherlands: Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., 1992)
General Strategies to Facilitate Learning and Memory
These eight basic strategies facilitate learning and memory in individuals with neurologically based difficulties such as ADHD.
1. Use clear expectations, in advance, about what is to be learned and remembered. The individual may need reminded of these expectations daily or at the beginning of each practice session. This means that your child will need much more structure for each of their assignments both in and out of school.
2. Organize and categorize information or skills to be learned. For more complicated assignments, you may need to assist your child by breaking down assignments into smaller more manageable parts.
3. Increase the attention to material or to the skills to be learned. Do this by using verbal mediation to direct attention to relevant information. Focus the individuals’ attention on items missed on previous practice trials.
Help your child discover which techniques help them to focus their attention the best. This may be using background music (different types for different children), white noise (e.g. a recording of ocean waves), or complete silence (using ear covering headphones without being connected to a sound source). Increased attention can also be facilitated by a study partner (parent, tutor or peer) pointing out relevant information to study and/or review.
4. Use successive approximations (small steps) to reach an overall goal. Allow the individual to run through the task or information making many mistakes. Correct one or two mistakes and then run through it again. Do not stop at each error and correct it.
5. Keep information/skills to be learned within the individuals area of competence! Small steps that are successful are much better than large steps that lead to failure.
6. Rehearse essential material. In some cases, this may translate into "over rehearse". Individuals with ADHD, because of their problems focusing, may need to go over the same material numerous times before it is learned.
7. Provide immediate feedback and reinforcement for tasks completed. Make sure that you use more positive reinforcement than correction. In other words, tell them "GOOD JOB" a lot. More than you would others their age without ADHD.
8. Use routine. Do the same task, in the same order, on the same schedule, with the same supervisor to facilitate learning. It is easier to help individuals generalize their learning to other situations once the task is mastered. Set up a homework routine that is followed religiously. Parents are strongly urged to use peer tutors to help manage the executive function deficits. Have them meet with a peer tutor daily, if need be, to help them get started, organize their materials and work, check what they have done, and stay on task.
It is all too easy to see that even something as routine as doing homework is a high maintenance task for individuals with ADHD. Focus your help not on teaching the material, but on the organizational/executive function strategies that will help the individual student learn the necessary material most readily.