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Tutoring for ADHD – Benefits & Guidance

13/07/2023 / SEN

It’s estimated that between three and five percent of children have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But the condition is more complex than its name suggests, and its symptoms range far beyond hyperactivity and inattentiveness.

Because these symptoms are so widespread, a student with ADHD often needs extra support in the classroom and outside in order to learn effectively and achieve their full potential. Here, we’ll examine the symptoms of ADHD and how individual tutoring for ADHD students can help them not only to succeed in school now, but also to learn habits that will help them throughout their lives.

Symptoms of ADHD

The symptoms of ADHD can generally be grouped into the categories of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. However, children who don’t have symptoms from all of these categories can still be diagnosed with ADHD. According to the NHS, around a quarter of people with ADHD show symptoms of inattentiveness only. These people are sometimes said to have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).


Many students with ADHD struggle to pay attention for longer spans of time and easily lose focus when distractions occur. Sometimes, students with ADHD may also not hear instructions or forget what they are doing in the middle of a task.

But in fact, this category of symptoms might be better described as “problems with assigning attention”. That’s because ADHD symptoms here aren’t just limited to an inability to stay focused. Students with ADHD struggle with devoting their attention in a useful way. That means that they may also pay too much attention to things, getting deeply absorbed in tasks and losing track of time.

Students with ADHD also struggle with turning their attention to a task, or “task initiation”. Let’s say, for example, a student has a science lab report to do for school. They might really want to start the report, but feel “stuck” or “paralysed”, unable to fix their attention on the goal they want to achieve.


Sometimes hyperactivity in ADHD manifests clearly in the form of a student getting up and moving around, or of a child playing particularly loudly and actively. But children can also be hyperactive in less obvious ways, like fidgeting subtly.

This category of symptom is one reason why an ADHD assessment from a healthcare professional is so essential. Students can sometimes learn to hide more obvious symptoms. They may be able to stop themselves from physically standing up from their chair. But they may still feel hyperactive, and that hyperactivity could still make it more difficult for them to focus on a task for a longer period of time.


Impulsiveness in students with ADHD can be thought of as a lack of the gatekeeper between thought and action. In other words, when a student’s mind thinks of doing an action, they do it instinctively. This can include interrupting someone else while they’re speaking, talking in a rambling fashion, and taking risky or ill-advised actions.

This conduct is sometimes wrongly categorised as misbehaviour. But a child with ADHD isn’t trying to be rude by interrupting a conversation or not being able to take turns in a game. They just need more support with managing their impulsiveness.

Other symptoms

All these symptoms can often add up to a real struggle with planning and organisation, such as keeping track of deadlines, organising papers and starting projects early enough so that there’s time to finish.

Similarly, a combination of attention problems, hyperactivity and impulsiveness may result in issues with time management. Students with ADHD may spend too much time on one task, procrastinate on tasks or simply lose track of time.

And children or young people with ADHD may struggle with sleep because of hyperactivity or getting caught up in a task bedtime.

Furthermore, students who know they have deadlines looming but aren’t able to take action to meet those deadlines may suffer mental health impacts and stress. Children and teens with ADHD may be diagnosed with other conditions, such as anxiety or depression.

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How ADHD symptoms can affect learning

ADHD may manifest during the school day in a number of ways, such as struggles with:

  • Paying attention to a long lecture or class discussion
  • Paying attention to a task that feels routine or unexciting
  • Not being distracted by other students or something happening outside the window
  • Focusing on the main idea of an assignment or task and not paying too much attention to a minor element
  • Sitting down in a long lesson without moving
  • Noting down due dates or key instructions for assignments, and remembering these later
  • Taking helpful notes
  • Writing in an organised manner so that thoughts flow clearly
  • Speaking in a clear and to-the-point manner in a class discussion
  • Avoiding simple mistakes in schoolwork that may be seen as “thoughtless” or “careless”
  • Keeping track of pencils, books and other tools
  • Waiting in turn to speak or waiting to be called on by the teacher
  • Waiting in a queue

What’s more, students with ADHD may also have difficulties with schoolwork outside of the classroom because of ADHD symptoms. They may struggle with:

  • Starting large tasks like projects or essays well in advance rather than at the last minute
  • Turning work in on time
  • Reading a book that feels uninteresting – or stopping reading a book that’s very interesting, resulting in staying up too late
  • Managing and balancing multiple ongoing tasks at the same time
  • Remembering what was said in a lesson
  • Staying on topic and answering the questions that were asked
  • Not losing papers
  • Task initiation, or being able to start work when looking at a blank page
  • Moving through the steps of a task appropriately – a student may spend too much time researching and then have no time left to write up their research, for instance

Benefits of tutoring for ADHD students

While students with ADHD should be receiving support in their classroom during the school day, tutoring for ADHD students can be invaluable. It can help them to succeed in their schoolwork and to develop skills and strategies that they can use in the future.

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How can tutoring for ADHD help students to improve their skills in maths, English and science?

A qualified tutor who’s familiar with the UK curriculum can help students to focus on the central ideas being taught, ensuring that they don’t miss core concepts by devoting attention to less crucial points. This is also great for children whose ADHD symptoms may have caused them to not hear or forget big ideas presented during class time.

A private tutor can also help children to pass assignments, ensuring that they address the prompt that’s been assigned and include all of the elements required. Tutors can teach children to break down assignments into steps too, guiding them through how much time to spend on each step.

In academic tutoring for ADHD, tutors also often emphasise positive reinforcement. Students who have struggled with procrastination may find that their feelings of stress or shame from past incomplete tasks actually prevent them from starting new tasks because they dread feeling those emotions again. Praise and rewards can help students to associate work with positive feelings rather than negative ones, helping to remove that dread that makes it so hard to begin.

Crucially, with an online tutor from Principal Tutors, your child can receive a recording of each tutoring session and a copy of the collaborative online whiteboard used during the session. This is ideal for students with ADHD who struggle with notetaking and memory.

How can tutoring for ADHD help students to develop their organisation and planning skills?

While maths, science and English are core subjects, planning and organising skills are actually just as essential. In adult life, everything involves planning and organising, even small daily tasks – planning a week’s meals, noting down doctor’s appointments, remembering to put the bins out on the right day and leaving home early enough to arrive at work on time are all examples.

Needless to say, these skills are also very much in play during university – which is why students really benefit from mastering them as early as possible.

While tutoring for an academic subject, tutors of students with ADHD will also introduce routines and strategies that will help their pupils to strengthen their organising and planning skills, which are referred to by psychologists as a part of “executive functioning.”

Tutoring for ADHD students naturally is tailored to the individual student, but there is a vast array of strategies that can help. These include graphic organisers, learning how to highlight effectively, using calendar and alarm apps on the student’s phone, notetaking tips and tricks such as Cornell notes, or reward charts for younger students. Tutors may also teach routines for tackling common tasks like writing an essay or organising a backpack. This can help to ease stress and procrastination for students with ADHD because they don’t have to make decisions about what to do first.

Another approach that works for some students with ADHD is the Pomodoro technique, which involves using a timer to let yourself work for thirty minutes, then taking a three-minute break before resuming work. This method can be great for students with ADHD who struggle with time management, and the break time can allow students with hyperactivity to get up, stretch and move.

Help your child thrive in school with private tutoring for ADHD

Students with ADHD may experience inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness, but that doesn’t mean they can’t achieve great success in school. They just need a little more support. Tutoring for ADHD students works on boosting their school achievement while also teaching the strategies and skills they need to realise their full potential both in education and in life. With a private tutor from Principal Tutors, your child will be learning from a qualified teacher who knows what’s essential to focus on at each stage, from primary to A-Level.

To learn how tutoring for ADHD can help your child, talk with us on 0800 772 097. Or you can request a tutor using our online form.


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