Every parent wants their child to do well in school. However, for a parent of a child with ADHD, there are more challenges afoot.
School can be a difficult place for a child with ADHD, especially as they want to keep up with their friends in the classroom and any hint that they’re struggling will cause them to feel lacking or as if they’re failing.
A child should never have to feel that way, and there are several methods you can use to help support your child’s education, to allow them to not only manage their time in the classroom, but succeed throughout it all too.
In this article, we’re going to look at several ways you can support your child and help them to manage their ADHD, therefore mastering their time at school.
Speak to Your Child’s Teacher
ADHD isn’t rare and it’s very likely that every class has at least one child with a degree of ADHD. Teachers need to help children with attention problems whilst also ensuring that they give the same amount of attention to the other children in the class. This can be a huge challenge for a teacher and despite the fact that they’re very well trained and prepared for it, being in regular contact with your teacher can help.
Many parents worry that by doing this, they’re interfering or undermining the teacher in some way, but that’s not the case. Your child’s teacher wants you to be a part of their educational journey and by working together, you can help to make your child’s schooling far easier and more successful.
If you’re worried about something, you have a suggestion, or your child is telling you something that they don’t feel confident enough to speak up about themselves, you have to be the communicator and put forth your views. Of course, you need to do this in a way which is focused, respectful and constructive, but you should never shy away from speaking up. By creating a positive and helpful working situation with your child’s teacher, your child will be the main benefactor.
A few tips for working with your child’s teacher include:
- Talk to your child’s teacher at the start of the school year, or just before it begins. Explain your child’s situation, their strengths and their weaknesses, and explain that you want to be a part of the journey, supporting the teacher at the same time.
- Ask for regular progress meetings with your child’s teacher, at a time which suits them best.
- Set goals for your child alongside the teacher and make sure that these are realistic enough to meet and even exceed if at all possible.
- Be sure to communicate any worries and to listen carefully to anything which your child’s teacher tells you. Communicate has to be two-way in this situation.
Set Daily Goals
Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD need structure in order to thrive in a classroom. They need to know what is expected of them, how to achieve it, and they need praise when they do so. By continuing with this pattern, you can help your child to not only feel comfortable in the classroom and be able to focus as best they can on the work in front of them, but you’ll encourage them to behave in a way which is suitable and helpful.
Sit down with your child and talk about what you would like them to achieve that particular day or week. Make sure you communicate in an age appropriate manner and make sure they understand. You can ask them if there is anything they would like to set a goal for too, tapping into their competitive side.
Once you have your goals set up, create a rewards board on the fridge at home and give your child a sticker or a healthy treat when they meet the target. Don’t give treats for everything, however, make sure that treats are reserved for large achievements or cumulations of goals. For most children, praise is enough for smaller wins.
Manage Challenging Behaviour at Home to Translate Into The Classroom
A child with ADHD may become distracted very easily, they may interrupt too often or in an aggressive way, and they may struggle with focus through hyperactive behaviour or fidgeting. Your child’s teacher will understand this from the conversations you’ve had and will know what your child’s main behaviour traits are. However, it’s important that you know by not only observing your child, but also communicating these to your child’s teacher to further solidify their knowledge.
Of course, you aren’t able to be in the classroom when your child is at school so you can’t correct the behaviour in real-time. The best option is to work on managing challenging behaviour at home, so that this translates into the school setting. You can also update your child’s teacher on any successful strategies you’ve tried to help manage a particular behaviour which crops up a lot. This can then be adopted in the classroom, if appropriate, and there will be an amount of consistency for your child to get used to.
- If your child struggles with distractions, sit them in the middle of the room and not close to a door or a window
- Note down any information that your child needs to know about a particular subject, so that they can remind themselves if they become distracted. Make sure they know where this information is, so they can access it easily
- Your child will probably need frequent breaks in order to stay focused and any large topic needs to be broken down into milestones, rather than trying to learn a large amount all at once. You can use this in a homework setting too
- If your child is prone to interrupting, it might help to have a gesture or a code that you use to make it clear to your child that they’re interrupting and that they need to try not to do that. It could be a gentle hand gesture, as one example. Anything too harsh needs to be avoided because this could make the child feel embarrassed in front of their peers
- Children with ADHD can also be quite impulsive and if your child is prone to this, there needs to be a consequence for impulsive actions and it needs to be carried out immediately after the action, so that they know what they did wrong and why they’re being punished
- It may help for your child to know what they’re going to be doing that day and to have a plan written out that they can look at. This helps them to feel in control
- If your child struggles to sit still, it’s a good idea to break up periods of sitting and learning with activities, such as a movement activity or asking them to go and do something for you. Your teacher may also be able to make use of this strategy in the classroom
- Hyperactive children may find a stress ball useful as this gives them something to fidget with which isn’t going to cause their attention to wander and isn’t going to harm them in any way
- Encourage your child to play outdoors during breaks, to run around and to take part in team sports if at all possible. This will burn off some excess energy in time for the classroom.
Every Child is Different
Every single child is unique in their own way, whether they have ADHD or not. For a child who does have ADHD, there are many unique challenges which are going to come their way and which may already be a very prominent part of their life.
In the home setting, you’re able to put together strategies and patterns that your child gets used to and that they can follow. This is easier for them because they’re within their home setting, they feel in control and they feel safe. However, when you throw a classroom into the mix, things can become difficult.
Your child will become very aware if they start to fall behind in their work or if they act in a way which causes other children to point out that they have a particular difference to them. For that reason, it’s vital that you work closely with your child’s teacher to put together strategies which translate into the classroom, as well as working at home.
It isn’t possible to do this alone, either for your child’s teacher or for you as their caregiver. If you want to give your child the best chance at succeeding in the classroom, you need to work as a team to help your child to overcome challenges and remain focused upon their learning.
You know your child better than anyone and you know their particular quirks and the things which they struggle with. Don’t be afraid to communicate these clearly to your child’s teacher and let them know how best to handle your child’s challenging behaviour whilst they’re at school.
By doing this, as a team, your child has a far greater chance at meeting their potential and shining in the classroom.