One of the biggest concerns for parents with children who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is their success at school. Repeated studies have indicated that children with ADD and ADHD achieve lower grades, due to their difficulties with sitting still, paying attention, following instructions, and impulse control. ADD/ADHD can cause even the brightest child to be left behind, contributing to additional behaviour issues and troubles achieving academic goals throughout their time in school.
There are some things that parents can do to help their children succeed. By offering ongoing guidance, persistence, and support, children with ADD/ADHD can gain the confidence they need to help overcome the significant challenges those disorders cause. Here are a few tips on how to help your child perform at his or her best.
Know Your Child’s Strengths and Challenges
One of the greatest ways you can help your child is to become familiar with his or her strengths and challenges. Start by focusing on his or her strengths, learning about what aspects of school he or she enjoys the most. If, for example, your child loves science but shows some challenges with English, encourage reading by giving him or her age and level appropriate books about science. Children learn best when they are actively interested in the topic. Another way to encourage interest in school subjects is to incorporate other interests. Lego can be used to teach math, for example. Or characters from your child’s favourite movies can be used on flashcards for spelling or other language topics. The possibilities are nearly endless, and by recognizing your child’s strengths and interests, you can help them overcome their challenges.
Communicate With Their Teachers
Explain your strategies for success with your child’s teachers and other professionals involved in his or her education. Schedule a special meeting with the teacher at the beginning of the school year, or as soon as you become aware of who the teacher will be. The majority of teachers will be grateful for any information that will help their students succeed, especially those with learning challenges. Put together a document that details your child’s particular strengths, challenges, learning styles, and what helps motivate him or her. Include any sensory needs and behaviour management requirements.
Be Your Child’s Strongest Advocate
The school system is strained, and while teachers and other educators do their best, you are your child’s best advocate. Your child may require tailored instructions, classroom accommodations, or other special arrangements to help him or her succeed. The first step is to determine if your child is eligible for special education services, or individualized learning plans. Parents are often the best person to request these services, and requests can be supported with documentation from other medical professionals involved in your child’s care.
While parents and teachers often feel that the homework assigned to children are reasonable for their age, a child with ADD or ADHD often can’t complete homework with the same accuracy or patience as his or her peers. Examine your own expectations of your child. While he or she may be intelligent, they often are unable to finish their homework in the same time as their peers, and forcing a child to spend his or her entire night on homework will only serve to discourage him or her further. Feeling that pressure can cause a child to feel increased anxiety, which will reduce his or her performance in school and on school assignments. If you notice that your child is consistently struggling with his or her homework, speak with his or her teacher about your concerns. Reduced assignments, or modified assignments, may be better suited for your child.
Children with ADD or ADHD need a lot of structure in their lives in order to thrive. Establishing a routine when it comes to getting ready for school, and for what happens when they come home, can go a long way to helping your child succeed. Use visual reminders, such as checklists and other signs, to help your child get him or herself ready in the mornings and to help get ready for bed at night. Auditory reminders, such as alarms and timers, can also help your child. You can help encourage focus by reducing the number of overall belongings, and by having clearly labelled containers to house their toys and necessities.