Helping Your Child With ADD (ADHD) at School
Patricia Quinn, M.D. and Kathleen Nadeau, Ph.D.
One of the biggest concerns for the parent of a child with
ADD (ADHD) is the impact of ADD (ADHD) on academic functioning.
ADD (ADHD) often makes it difficult for a child to stay focused
on his classwork, difficult to listen and remember the teacher's
directions, and difficult to complete work in a timely fashion.
Teamwork between home and school is critical.
It is important that the school faculty be aware of all that
you are doing for your child with ADD (ADHD). That way, everyone
is working on the common goal of helping your child achieve
independence and academic success. The school will need information
about your child's diagnosis, treatment and academic recommendations
so that a plan of action can be set in place.
It is critical to establish consistent and open
communication with your child's teacher. Collaborate
with your child's teacher to find solutions for your child's
ADD (ADHD) challenges.
With your busy schedule, it's not always easy to meet with
your child's teacher in person, so here are some ways to keep
Communicate by phone or email on a regular basis.
Create a notebook that travels back and forth with your
child for the teacher to write down any notes about your
child. You can also add any important information that
you think the teacher should be aware of as it arises.
Provide the teacher with a set of stamped, self-addressed
envelopes that the teacher may use to mail important information
home rather than sending it with your child.
Let your child take an active role in making
homework decisions. Homework isn't optional,
but there are many options about when and how to do homework.
Help your child observe himself or herself so
that the child knows when and how he or she works best.
Some kids need vigorous exercise after school
before tackling homework, while others need to "veg-out."
Still others do better if they complete homework before
dinner. Similarly, some need to work in the same room
with a parent to stay on track. There are kids who concentrate
best while listening to music; others need total silence.
Encourage your child to try different approaches
to homework. Together with your child, develop
a daily homework plan that best suits his or her individual
needs. Then encourage your child to stick to the plan
until it becomes a habit.
Remove distractions that interfere with homework
completion. Whether it's television, the phone
or instant email messages, anything that repeatedly interferes
with homework should be removed until homework is finished.
If your child takes medication, it's important
that she be on the medication during homework and after-school
activities. Be sure she schedules her difficult
reading assignments and written work for times when the
medication is most effective.
Don't try to "tutor" your child.
That doesn't mean that you can't help your child once
in a while. But if your child needs a lot of help, has
a specific learning disability or has major problems with
planning, time management and completion of long-term
assignments, he needs professional help.
Don't do the work for your child.
By spending many hours helping your child, and/or doing
much of the work for him or her, you are not allowing
the child to learn to deal with her ADD (ADHD). Give your
child support and encouragement, along with the message
that she is strong enough to carry the load.