Supporting Executive Functions, a teacher’s approach

I’ve been a primary teacher for ten years and I’m currently teaching year six in a local inner west school. My main concern was related to a 12-year-old girl, diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, who was falling behind.


My student was avoiding many of the tasks I was giving out in class which was becoming a problem. I found that she would be particularly oppositional when it was time to do activities with more than a simple task.


The booklet was helpful in explaining executive functioning and ADHD, and how students can struggle with tasks. I was able to make some connections.

  • My student needed help getting started as she was probably feeling overwhelmed with information and instructions. She had started falling behind and could be finding the work too hard.


I knew I had to help my student with their executive functioning. I started with the more complex activities and broke them down into smaller chunks. I found this helped me pace the lesson and it became a good way to identify where students needed help.

It took more time, but I also made sure that for any activities with more than one task, I gave verbal instructions and provided a written version as well so that the students had something to refer to. Sometimes I wrote them on the board and other times I created a handout.

I also trialled giving the whole class three options for each task with different levels of difficulty to match the different level of abilities. As part of this process, I went around to everyone’s table to check on all the students without putting her on the spot, and would ask 2 questions:

  1. What do you think you need to do for this task?
  2. Can you show me how you are going to tackle it?


We are slowly making headway, but I can see that she is still resisting tasks she doesn’t understand and is too embarrassed to ask. The next step is to find different ways she can ask for help without fear.

Teacher's Booklet

Supporting ADHD Students In The Classroom

Empower teachers with practical strategies to support students with ADHD in the classroom