The school year is looking quite different just about everywhere this year, and that’s whether our kids are returning in person, doing a hybrid version of school, remote virtual school, or homeschooling.
With attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), kids often struggle with staying focused, hyperactivity, and impulses. No matter what version of school you choose this year, these five tips can help you prep your kiddo with ADHD for the new school year and, in turn, help them succeed.
Create a School Routine
The number one thing kids with ADHD need as the school year gets underway? Routine and structure. When schools suddenly closed in the spring, they were thrust into a whole new way of learning and doing things and that was hard.
Chances are that you, as a parent, have made a decision about school. When you tell your kid about that decision, be excited. Tell them all about what school will be like now (even if you’re not completely excited yourself). And then develop a routine/structure and share it with your kids. One way to do this is through a visual schedule that allows your child to see exactly what is coming up in their school day (such as this one).
Include Exercise In their Routine
Since kids with ADHD often have a hard time focusing, be sure to have some sort of exercise time available to them during their school day. Exercise increases dopamine in the brain, which in turn helps them, at least in the short time, improve both focus and attention.
When ADHD kids struggle to focus and stay on task — and listen to the teacher, limiting distractions is key. So, for example, if they’re doing school virtually this year, consider setting up a special, dedicated space for their “school time.” Something like this creative (and genius) idea to use tri-fold boards is a great way to keep the space clean and distraction free.
Offer Regular Positive Reinforcement
Adjusting to change is hard. Adapting to a new schedule and a new way of learning is hard. While positive reinforcement — and praising a child when they do something great — is helpful for any kiddo, it can be particularly helpful for a kid with ADHD.
Praising doesn’t just have to be over big things either; even praising a child when they get out of bed in time can make a world of difference to the rest of the day.
Adjust Their Treatment If Needed
With changes to the daily schedule and routine, changes in treatment may be needed as well. For some, who thrive with less scheduled in the day, they’ll need less medication. For others, who need a lot of activity, they may need more medication.
As always, be sure to consult with your child’s physician! They can also provide even more guidance in helping your child with the adjustment to the very unusual new school year.