Assuming that his excessive activity is also due to the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, your question about what to do in the meantime to help with the behaviors is very important. It's important to remember that a lot of children with ADHD have never learned how to settle themselves. Does this boy know what that "calm down," or "relax" feel like? Lots of parents and teachers tell children to do these things, so the words are very familiar to kids. But if you've always been "hyper," then the feeling is unfamiliar. He may need to rehearse these behaviors so he can better associate the word with the feeling. Sitting next to a child with your arm around his shoulder while you're reading to him is a good way to help him feel more contained. Asking him to wrap his arms around himself ("give yourself a 'get in control' hug") is another way to help him take some responsibility for self-control. Playing games, which involve stopping, starting or "freezing" on command will be hard, but helpful for him. Having him join hands with another child while doing this can help provide external controls in a fun, non-punitive way. ("Now, freeze and tell your study buddy the answer to my question before telling it to me".) This also encourages positive social interaction while reinforcing academic concepts. Remember that ADHD is a neurologically based condition. Medication can often be very helpful, but there is still a need to teach children how to gain a better sense of self-control. You can help a child like this a great deal by asking him how many minutes he thinks he can stay focused (use an egg timer to make the passage of time more concrete), and then give lots of positive reinforcement when the goal is reached. Charting on-task behaviors will also give this child (and his parents) some visible evidence of positive growth. If the mom is willing, but financially unable to get the medication, perhaps the school nurse or social worker can be of some help.
Teacher Wants to Help Child with LD
LD and ADD/ADHD Expert Advice from Jerome J. Schultz, Ph.D.