Well I have chosen this topic first mainly because it is so common today. It affects many adults as well as children. As a general rule people suffering from ADHD have issues with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Or in more simple terms, they have a hard time staying focused and get bored easily; they have a very hard time standing still, and can blurt out statements or act without thinking. I am sure you can see how that will be a struggle for a typical Tae Kwon Do class.
Students, as they mature, learn coping techniques, and this is a very critical part of growing to a point where ADHD is easily managed for them as adults. This is where Tae Kwon Do comes into play because this is a fun activity for them, and usually can get their attention easily compared to other activities allowing them to practice those maturing skills. Although some parts can drag on and you lose their attention but remember you have them for about three hours a week where they are practicing standing still and following instruction. The better they get with you in your class the easier it will be for them to do the same things elsewhere such as in school or in their future career.
Usually you can address the inattention easily with keeping things moving at a quick pace. Do not spend a lot of time explaining things. I am guilty of explaining the same thing three times, usually by the third time you have lost their attention. So if you are having them stand still, get to your point, make it and move on. Change things up frequently, sometimes it might be better to work on forms for 15 minutes, do something else and go back to forms for 15 minutes, rather than work on forms for 30 minutes straight. You do not need to break things up all the time; life does not always change just for them, so they need to learn to work in all situations. But as the instructor, you have the ability to choose your battles, and sometimes doing a simple change up can change the whole class flow for the better. Being attentive to what is going on is your best tool.
On one side, hyperactivity will look like they are excited to get going and doing. Sometimes it is just an all out war for them to stand still. But you need to remember, it isn’t that they don’t want to, they just can’t. And if you are boring, then their ability to sit or stand still is just that much more difficult. As I posted earlier, find things for them to move like toes and thumbs, and let them know it is ok to move them. Constantly yelling at them to stand still is not going to get anything done. You get frustrated and they feel embarrassed every time attention is drawn to them. So remember they are trying. Never let frustration take control of your class.
Impulsive behavior will likely be your least concern. You may see it as they rush to be first in line, or do forms too fast, but generally, you might just want to let some of that slide if you are working on the other two issues. Choose what things are important and stick to those. Do not nitpick on every little thing they do you wish they didn’t do.
Just as they practice and make their punches better, their kicks higher and faster, they are also practicing something they will need all their lives and often throughout every day. Regardless, of what they do in life as a career, a parent, or a future Tae Kwon Do instructor, they will be able to do it more effectively because they got to practice and work on their coping techniques with you and in your class. Encourage them whenever you can, the more you do that, the better they will feel about coming to class. They will feel good about themselves. Believe me, the one thing you can do that will help everyone regardless of their needs, is to encourage!
Currently, most of the medications for ADHD only work while the medication is in their system and metabolizes fast. However, the side effects of these medications can cause people to not eat and it prevents them from sleeping. So generally, if a student is on any medication, it will be structured so that it will be wearing off in the evening so that they can eat a good dinner and sleep that night. What that means for you as an instructor, is if they are in your evening classes, their medication will be wearing off while they are in class. So it is important you understand this. If they are in school, early evening is better than later. On weekends, try and have your class start as early in the day as possible. Sometimes Tae Kwon Do schools are too small to have different classes throughout the day, but for those that do, it is something worth considering when working out schedules, especially on test day.
Think about how you can set your students up for success and not failure.