School can be tough for kids for a lot of different reasons. For kids dealing with ADHD and school, succeeding can be especially difficult because sitting still, listening quietly, paying attention, following instructions and concentrating are not easy tasks for them. But by working with your child, his teachers, and his school to come up with creative solutions to the challenges that ADHD poses, you can help him find a track to success. These strategies can help your child have a positive, productive grade-school experience:
Partner with your child's teachers
Your child spends practically every day with his teachers, and they have a strong influence over your child's learning experiences. It's crucial that you have an open, communicative relationship with them so you can discuss how your child is doing, including what progress is being made and what potential problems are developing.
Suggested strategies: Communication about ADHD and school issues is key. Having a journal that your child takes back and forth to school and home each day is a great way to keep a regular correspondence going with the school staff. Teachers can jot down notes to you about your child's behavior and school performance, and you can address any questions or concerns you may have.
Maintaining a daily report card is also a good system for keeping track of how your child is doing in school day-to-day. It should list very specific daily goals so it's easy for your child to tell what he's being asked to do and whether he's fulfilling those expectations (e.g., "he finished his reading assignment."). It also helps to have a reward system in place so your child knows that good things -- like extra playtime -- happen if he works hard to do what's asked of him. In school, kids with ADHD often receive a lot of negative feedback for their behavior, and their self-esteem can suffer as a result. Learning that they have the power to make behavior choices that will earn them positive feedback and rewards can be very motivating.
Become creatures of habit
Having a set daily routine helps kids with ADHD stay on track and better understand what they should be doing, and when.
Suggested strategies: ADHD in school-age children can wreak havoc on habits. Print your daily schedule, post it where your child can see it, and try to follow it as closely as possible. Also, have your child wear a wristwatch to help him learn to manage his time and stick to a schedule. Let him pick out one with a fun band that he'll enjoy wearing.
Many kids with ADHD struggle with organization, which can lead to performance problems in school.
Suggested strategies: Make your household motto, "there's a place for everything, and everything in its place." Show your child the right places to keep his toys, clothes and school materials. Use notebooks and organizers to help keep schoolwork organized and an assignment book to keep track of all his homework. Take time each day to check in with your child on the organization of his things, and talk about where they should be if they're out of place.
Be a homework helper
It's likely that your child will need your help getting started and breaking down large assignments into smaller, more manageable ones that are easier to tackle.
Suggested strategies: Establish a routine for doing homework that includes a designated time and place that's as distraction-free as possible. Be there to help your child as needed, but don't do the work for him.
Take advantage of special services
Specific legislation has been enacted over the past several decades to provide specialized academic support and services for children with ADHD and other learning disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), entitle your child to a free academic evaluation that determines whether he qualifies for special support or even an individualized education program (IEP) tailored especially for learning-disabled students. Ask your child's teacher or school counselor about these services.
To locate a doctor to help manage your child’s ADHD, visit MyMidwestPhysician.com, or call (816) 751-3000.