Going back to school is a fun, exciting and often nerve-racking time for many children, especially for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Joann B. Mays, Children’s Clinic Pediatrician, says it’s important to understand that children with ADHD do not have less potential, intelligence or talent. “They simply have different barriers to learning than other children do,” she said.
For parents or caretakers who are caring for children with ADHD, Dr. Mays offers tips on success for this school year.
• Offer incentives and encouragement rather than punishment. Your child needs to know that you are his/her biggest encourager and fan. Kids with ADHD might struggle believing in themselves. “A parent’s encouragement can do wonders for a child’s self-confidence and success,” Dr. Mays said.
• Organization is Key. Do your best to include calendars, reminders, routines, structure and consistency in your child’s life. Make sure your child knows exactly what is expected each day, and help your child accomplish goals in small pieces rather than a whole.
“Children with ADHD will be more likely to forget homework, turn in assignments late and lose focus on tasks,” Dr. Mays said. It could be a good idea to ask your child’s teacher for a homework schedule and get any assignments that you can in advance. Try breaking homework down into small pieces so your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed.
Dr. Mays said it could also be helpful to create a fun activity calendar for your child. Use color-coded lists and create a culture of celebration when each task is completed.
• Make your child’s health a priority. “Know exactly what your child’s symptoms are, and make sure you’ve discussed a treatment plan with your pediatric provider,” Dr. Mays said.
Once the treatment plan is in place, don’t stop communicating with your provider. Make sure the plan is effective and helpful.
• Build Relationships with school staff. “It’s very important for parents whose children have ADHD to be involved in their education,” Dr. Mays said. “Write down your child’s symptoms and treatment plan and give it to the teacher. Have regular conversations with the teacher and ask how your child is doing in the classroom on a day-to-day basis. When you’re involved in your child’s education, it not only offers a higher chance of success for your child, but also helps the teacher educate and understand your child better.”
“Your child does not have to be defined by ADHD,” Dr. Mays said. “I encourage you to use the difficulties as a catalyst to learn and grow, and most of all, to celebrate every accomplishment!”