Classroom Management Strategies for Bipolar Students

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Students with bipolar disorder have a challenging time getting through a typical day at school. This lesson describes classroom management strategies to help students with bipolar disorder succeed in school.

Bipolar Disorder

Imagine being at school in situations that feel stressful, boring, exciting or confusing, and having little control over your feelings and behavior. The simplest things like joining in a game during recess, sitting with peers in the lunch room, or finishing a classroom assignment could become huge hurdles that are mentally and emotionally draining. This is how some children with bipolar disorder feel every day.

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that affects an individual's mood, energy and day-to-day functioning. Usually people with bipolar disorder are diagnosed later in life, as adolescents or adults. However, some have been diagnosed as young children. While this is not common, it is something that teachers need to be aware of, and ready to address in their classrooms.

Common Symptoms

Students with bipolar disorder usually show some of the following symptoms in the classroom.

  • Having difficulty making transitions
  • Becoming easily distracted
  • Experiencing anxiety with regular, day-to-day tasks
  • Suffering drowsiness from a lack of sleep or medications

Because of these symptoms, students with bipolar disorder may throw tantrums, refuse to work, become aggressive towards others, shut down, act giddy or silly, or become overly elated. Learning disabilities often appear, making it harder for these students to read, write, communicate and do complex tasks.

Classroom Management

Let's take a look at some classroom management strategies you can implement to help your students with bipolar disorder succeed in school. Keep in mind, each child has unique abilities and challenges. You will need to adapt these ideas based on your individual learners and your classroom setting.

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