The first few months of the school year can be challenging for children with ADHD. Children with ADHD may have persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. In most cases, these children also have an executive functioning deficit, which means that they struggle to plan ahead, stay organized, and complete tasks. Here are 5 tips to help your child have a successful school year.
- Establish a Routine
Children with ADHD benefit from having structure and routines. They thrive when the day is predictable and they know what is coming next. The certainty of the day helps children with ADHD feel a sense of security.
One way to help develop daily structure is to create schedules throughout the day for your child to follow. This may look like a morning schedule to get your child prepared for the school day, or it might be an afternoon schedule so your child knows what to expect when they get home from school.
Depending on your child’s age/abilities, visual schedules can be a helpful tool for visual learners or non-readers. Children thrive on routine and a schedule can help your child to know exactly what to expect next.
- Designate a Quiet and Organized Space for Homework
Noise and distractions can be very difficult for a child with ADHD. It’s important to create a quiet space for times when your child is expected to concentrate. Instead of doing homework in the kitchen, where other siblings might be running around, or a parent might be starting dinner, designate a quiet space for your child. This might be an office area, where the door can be shut so your child can concentrate.
While creating this quiet space, work with your child to make the space as organized as possible. An unorganized area can create too many distractions for a child with ADHD. It’s important to organize their working space to make sure everything has a place. Consider a drawer for sharpened pencils, a notebook for each subject, and a bin for math tools. Try to label each drawer, bin, folder, and notebook to make the space easy to keep organized.
- Use Timers
Children with ADHD tend to need many breaks while completing a task. Timers can be an incredible tool for this. Set a timer for 10, 15, or 20 minute increments, depending on the age of the child, and tell your child that he/she can take a break once the timer is completed. This will help your child to stay focused, and then take a break to regroup before getting back to work.
A timer can be especially helpful when completing long assignments. A long assignment can be a very daunting task for a child with ADHD. Many times, your child might begin to show negative behaviors when faced with a long and challenging assignment.
One helpful strategy is to break the assignment into manageable steps. Work with your child and model how to break up the assignment to show them that this is a strategy they can use moving forward. Then, use the timer trick to help them designate a certain amount of time for each section before taking a movement break.
- Schedule Time for Activity
The best way to help children to concentrate when they need to, is to give them opportunities to release their energy. Depending on the child, individual sports, like martial arts, might be a better fit than team sports, like soccer. It’s so important to give children with ADHD the opportunity to release their energy.
Consider providing your child with opportunities for movement before and after long stretches of sitting. For a child with ADHD, it can be helpful for them to run around or play outside after a long day of school. It can also be a good idea to provide your child with ample opportunities for gross motor activity before starting an extended sitting period- like completing homework.
- Provide Proper Body Maintenance
Proper nutrition and sleep is essential for all children, but especially children with ADHD. Many parents have seen correlations between the foods that their children consume, and the behaviors that arise. Consider making an appointment with a nutritionist to discuss proper nutrition more closely.
Sleep is vital for your child’s organs, muscles, immune system, and memory. Children should sleep an average of 9-12 hours each night. To ensure your child is getting enough sleep each night, consider creating a bedtime routine, limiting screen time at night, and creating a calm sleeping space.
We wish you and your family a successful school year. For more assistance with your child’s wellness, contact the Children’s Wellness Developmental Center.