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ADHD And School

ADHD and school
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A child with ADHD can find it tricky to sit still, listen attentively, and concentrate. These are key skills required for a successful school life, making mainstream schooling a challenge for many of those who suffer from ADHD. But it has been proven many times that kids with ADHD can adapt, with a little patience, help and guidance from educators, and with support from their parents.

Parent Power

Parents play a key role in preparing children with ADHD for life in the classroom. A teacher has many other demands on their time, with the best will in the world, cannot always give dedicated one-on-one attention to just one child. Parents can help by teaching their ADHD child skills and coping mechanisms. Seeing them through those periods when they are not receiving direct teacher time, also liaising with the school from day one. Things parents can do include:

  • Establish good lines of communication with the school – the specific needs of children with ADHD do vary, so it’s important to let the school know of your child’s trigger points and individual challenges
  • Meet regularly – any strategies you develop with your child’s teacher will need to be reviewed to assess their effectiveness. You may see changes at home as a result of things your child’s teacher is trying in school, it’s important you discuss these often so you both know what is working
  • Create goals – dealing with ADHD can feel like an uphill struggle that never gets anywhere. Setting realistic goals for and with your child will give you, them and their teacher something to work towards, boosting a sense of achievement when each goal is reached
  • Share and be honest – pretending something is working when it’s not is no help to anyone. Be honest about your experiences with your ADHD child at home; be prepared for honesty from their teacher in return. You may not always like what you hear, but try to cast aside the defensiveness you may feel towards your child, in favour of working on strategies for moving forward
  • Help with organisation – taking the right books, getting homework in on time, understanding tasks – these can all be a challenge for a child with ADHD. Work with them to develop a routine for time and task management that means something to them. It will help make them feel calmer and more in control

Behaviour Plans

Most children with ADHD can learn to control their impulses and behave in a manner that is appropriate to the classroom setting. Achieving this can be helped enormously through the use of a Behaviour Plan. ADHD kids need very clear guidelines within which to operate – these act as the constraints that help them to keep their behaviour in line with expectations. It has been shown that kids with ADHD respond positively to daily affirmation and positive reinforcement. This is why goal setting it so important. Simple behavioural goals can provide the perfect target.

Range of ADHD Behaviours

ADHD and schoolADHD sufferers exhibit a range of behaviours, each of which requires a particular approach if they are to be managed. Typical behaviours include:

  • Distraction – noises, movement and internal thoughts can all distract an ADHD child from paying attention in class. Anything that requires sustained thinking is a significant challenge
  • Interrupting – reduced impulse control can lead to some ADHD children butting in or shouting out at inappropriate times
  • Impulsive behaviour – a general tendency to act before thinking is quite typical of children with ADHD, this can lead them to do inexplicable things, such as pulling hair or throwing objects
  • Fidgeting – one of the best-known symptoms of ADHD is hyperactivity. It affects sufferers to varying degrees
  • Difficulty following instructions – even a simple series of instructions can seem incomprehensible to an ADHD child. They may believe their understand, may even look as if they do, but when left to their own devices often produce work that is disjointed or incomplete

Strategies to Help a Child with ADHD

Once you understand the specific issues raised by your child’s ADHD, you can work with your child and their teacher to develop a learning strategy that takes account of these. Suggestions could include:

  • Incorporating physical activities into lessons to offer an alternative focus, to give the ADHD child chance to move around
  • Create checklists for more complex activities that breaks tasks down into more manageable chunks
  • Use varied activities to achieve a learning goal – visual, oral, listening, and so on
  • Give ADHD children responsible tasks within the classroom to give them focus and boost self-esteem – handing out books, sharpening pencils, creating a poster
  • Give them a stress ball to use when they are feeling hyper
  • Being verbally explicit when giving praise, so the child knows exactly which behaviours are being rewarded and why
  • Work out a simple and quiet communication code your ADHD child can use with your teacher to indicate a need to talk or interrupt, as a means to controlling outbursts
  • Sit an ADHD child away from the distraction of doors and windows

The primary factor in success with ADHD children in school is to understand that there is no quick fix. Regular reviews and tweaking of strategies will be required to provide continued support to an ADHD child throughout their school life. Recognising this, working with teachers to achieve it can help an ADHD achieve academic success and, as important, learn the social skills that will help them interact in positive ways with the world long after their school days are over.

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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