3 Reasons Students with ADHD Can Benefit from Flexible Learning Environments

It is a well-known fact that every student faces some challenges when it comes to their learning environment. Whether they suffer from social anxiety that prevents them from asking questions in class or have trouble concentrating when too many distractions are present, a conventional educational setting doesn’t always work as well as it should. As such, the popularity of custom products like floor desks and portable desks for kids is on the rise — albeit a slow one.

Despite advancements in how educators understand the ways students learn best, it seems as if progress remains at a snail’s pace, with many teaching strategies still stuck in the past. For the six million students in the United States diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), this is nothing less than a critical problem: one that needs quick solving. Fortunately, there is good news: Current evidence proves that teachers and parents can ensure these students are provided with an education just as fulfilling as those without ADHD by adopting a few practical principles. In this article, we’ll be uncovering why flexible learning environments are one of the best advancements possible and, more importantly, how you can provide one for your child.

The Issue with Conventional Learning Environments First, it’s essential to understand why and how conventional classrooms and other learning environments fail to provide an engaging educational experience — not only for children with ADHD, but for every student.

To put it simply, traditional learning methods remove students’ ability to make their own choices. Instead, they are required to sit idly and listen to their teacher talk about something that might not interest them at all, leading to short attention spans and poor academic performance. Pair that with the fact that items like floor seating options and foldable desks for kids are often excluded from these environments (which can help students personalize how they learn), and you have a recipe for disaster.

Ultimately, a child’s education needs to be on their own terms. So, whether they’re allowed to decide how they want to sit using a portable desk for kids or pick which subject they’d like to learn for the day, the ability to choose can benefit academic performance greatly — especially for students with ADHD. Here’s how:

1. Flexible Seating Arrangements Keep Children Comfortable and Engaged Imagine this: You are a student who has ADHD, meaning you struggle with focusing on your schoolwork, keeping organized, and — most importantly — sitting still for extended periods of time. With these symptoms alone, conventional learning environments would be completely unsuitable. Your classrooms would require you to sit at a stiff, unmovable desk for hours on end, making your education both uncomfortable and uninteresting. However, give a student like this a flexible seating arrangement, and you’ll discover that they’re more engaged than ever. From floor desks that let children sit on the ground to stand-up desks and foldable desks that let them move about the classroom, granting kids the opportunity to learn wherever they wish is a simple yet powerful strategy to keep them engaged. This doesn’t only apply to students with ADHD, either, as elementary schools across the country discovered that flexible seating benefits all children — regardless of whether or not they have an attention disorder. Some popular forms of flexible seating include:

  • Couches

  • Stand-up desks

  • Portable desks for kids

  • Floor desks

  • Bean bags

Compared to those traditional metal desks we all remember from our old classrooms, these custom arrangements allow students to personalize their learning experience without limitation. Even if you are a parent with a homeschooled child, this strategy can still work in your favor. Simply allow your student to work from wherever they want within the house, or take them outside to a nearby park or library to study using a foldable desk for kids. As long as they’re engaged and excited, you can expect their scores to reflect the same. After all, a child’s education should be comfortable and inspiring — why make it the opposite?

2. Regular Movement Keeps Students Energized and Involved Research reveals that students diagnosed with ADHD, along with the rest of their peers, can experience better educational performance when their learning is paired with physical activity. From improving alertness to boosting motivation, schools across the country have found that students who score high on fitness activities also tend to have higher test scores overall. Because regular exercise stimulates areas of the brain associated with concentration, behavior, memory, and more, keeping students physical throughout their education can only benefit their learning outcomes. (This is not even to mention the positive impact exercise has on depression, anxiety, stress, and more.) Of course, you may not have the time to let your child run a lap around the park before sitting them down to study. Nevertheless, a flexible learning environment can encourage students to be active and engaged with their subject material.

For starters, supplying your student with a foldable desk or floor desk for kids will immediately encourage them to move around while learning. If they grow tired of sitting in one position, they could quickly transfer to another area and resume their work where they feel more motivated. Not only is the students actively moving between positions, but they’re also stimulating their cognitive processes by changing their posture. Some other practical ways to encourage movement in a classroom include:

  • Standing up

  • Meeting around the whiteboard/chalkboard

  • Grouping students into stations

  • Changing seating arrangements using portable desks for kids

Though walking a few steps may seem like a minor improvement, it can be the difference between a student who is bored with their subject and one who is inspired to learn more. How so, you might ask? Well, around 90% of the oxygen in our body remains stale until we get up and move our bodies, kickstarting our lungs and supplying our brain with fresh air. Remain stationary for too long, however, and the lack of new oxygen can make us tired and unfocused.

Therefore, students with ADHD will benefit significantly from the general positive outcomes of a flexible learning environment that encourages them to remain active, rather than punishing them for doing so. Not only will it make them and their peers excited to come to class each day, but it will also improve how they retain information and support better academic performance. Furthermore, an active classroom that encourages a balance of mild movement will not make children unfocused; instead, it will encourage diversity and mobility within the space, which can make a real impact in the long run.

3. Positive Reinforcement Helps Students Process Disappointment and Handle their Thoughts It is common for children with ADHD to have trouble matching the same levels of academic performance as their peers. Though students diagnosed with the disorder might have the same knowledge and potential as other students in their class, completing school assignments and tests can be a challenge. In a way, it’s as if their thoughts run too fast for their bodies to catch up with.

As such, it’s essential for educators and parents alike to understand that this isn’t the student’s fault. They’re simply struggling to catch up with an educational system that wasn’t built to fit their needs — and they shouldn’t be punished for it. After all, would you shame a 5-foot-2 person for being better suited to play soccer rather than basketball? Of course, you wouldn’t; it’s just that the world around — or in this case, the sport — was crafted without them in mind. The same consideration must be given to children with ADHD, especially when it comes to their education.

Fortunately, if you plan to incorporate the first two points we listed into your teaching methods, you’re already a few steps ahead. By simply creating a flexible learning environment using portable desks for kids and more, you’re showing them that they still deserve a fulfilling classroom experience despite the challenges they may face. Some other ways to ensure students with ADHD feel supported include:

  • Teaching children to think positively during moments of stress

  • Offering choices for how students can complete an activity

  • Encouraging hands-on learning

  • Providing appropriate supervision and support to students with ADHD

  • Encouraging students to reflect upon themselves to determine which practice works best for them. After all, we aren’t all the same!

Imagine how pleased your students will be to find their environment filled with tools built to keep them engaged, such as floor desks, standing desks or a variety of chairs. Pair this with regular positive reinforcement, and you’re guaranteed to see the benefits of a flexible education reflected in their academic progress.

Conclusion Every student deserves an education that takes their personal needs and challenges into consideration, regardless of whether they struggle with a condition like ADHD. Though it may seem difficult to provide this as a parent or educator, there is no shortage of valuable strategies available to ensure your child feels understood and — more importantly — excited to learn. So, try incorporating these methods to promote a flexible learning environment that engages and encourages your student.

If you’re searching for ways to make your classroom more friendly for ADHD students, consider using a product like DidiDesk, a portable desk for kids designed to help them personalize their learning experience. Whether they prefer learning on the floor or a park bench, the portable desk enables them to study anywhere, anytime. Give your child the gift of choice and movement, and watch them reap the benefits of a flexible education that allows them to better understand and accept themselves.