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Are lessons too long?

Most of the children I work with have challenges when it comes to school. This is particularly true in a classroom environment. This is because ADHD makes it difficult for children to focus, sit still and control their impulses. Many children are able to cover this up through what is known as ‘masking’. But it should never have to come to that.

Throughout my time visiting schools, I’ve noticed a huge disparity in the provision for ADHD pupils. Although much progress has been made, there is still a lot more that can be done. One aspect which concerns me the most is the length of each lesson. In secondary education, most lessons last between 45 minutes and an hour. It may not seem like a lot, but this 15 minute difference can have a huge impact on the child’s concentration - particularly in the latter half of the lesson. Many schools which have shorter lessons compensate for this by scheduling double lessons for certain subjects. This isn't helpful for students with ADHD. In primary schools, children can be expected to remain seated in the same class for over two hours at a time without a break. Anyone who has ADHD knows that this is simply unsustainable. There is nothing worse than forcing yourself to sit through a class when your body is agitating for some movement. Even if the class is broken down into chunks or delivered with engaging content, the child is still going to struggle.

A school can offer all the provisions it likes, but if the length of the lessons are too long, nothing’s going to change. If a child is expecting a drawn-out lesson beforehand, it will affect their motivation right from the start - or even before school has started. It’s common for teachers to offer a five-minute stretch in the middle of a lesson, but I don’t think this is anywhere near enough. In truth, the best way for a child with ADHD to re-energise is to go outdoors and get as far away from the classroom as possible.


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