I recently wrote an article, Teaching Your Child to Study with ADHD. As I wrote the article, I thought about all the aspects of school and schedules that really contribute to successful studying. In essence, a child can’t successfully study without having the foundation laid for success. But what does it look like to lay a solid foundation for a child with ADHD?
I’m so glad you asked…
Here are a few critical aspects of ADHD and setting your child up for success:
Schedule everything…Well, almost everything
For children with ADHD, structure and consistency are critical. By “scheduling everything,” your child is able to set appropriate expectations and adjust to a consistent schedule. Perhaps when Sam gets home from school he likes to play with Legos or get on the computer. Creating a schedule doesn’t eliminate these leisure activities. In fact, it encourages them! By having a schedule, there is perhaps more time because expectations are set on how much time will be spent on various activities. For instance, Sam gets home at 4. He has 45 minutes to play with Legos or have computer time (4-4:45). By 4:45, Sam is starting his homework before dinner at 6. Because children with ADHD have a tough time transitioning, creating a schedule helps eliminate unclear expectations and unexpected transitions. Create a spot in your house where the general daily schedule is located and also a weekly calendar where events are posted. If your child is younger and doesn’t tell time yet, invest in a kitchen timer so that the child recognizes the consistency in the schedule and also has a visual and audible prompt for when homework time or free time is over. I like this one from Rejuvenation, since it is attached to a wall clock (so you won’t be digging around for it) and has a vintage retro style.
Equipping your child with space that is consistent, clean, and quiet, can be a wonderful gift especially when your child has ADHD. Set up a space in your home that’s designated for studying and homework. This can be a corner in the kitchen or a desk in a spare bedroom. The distinction between spaces helps make expectations for studying very clear. Attempt to keep this area tidied up and relatively quiet to eliminate additional distractions. Think back to your college days before a big exam, where did you go to really get studying done? I know for me, I didn’t frequent the library, except for those times I really needed to focus. It was quiet and clean and I had set that place aside mentally as, “The Place Where I Get Stuff Done.” Your child needs a place like that. If you are initiating a new routine and new study space, consider making it an exciting new beginning by shopping together for a new desk or study materials. PB Teen has a ton of spectacular options, but a personal favorite is the Customize-It Project Metal A-Frame Desk, which features a lift up desktop with cork boards for organizing reminders and study materials. Defining a special place for studying is a fun and easy way for setting your child up for success.
Today, many schools allow for teachers to be contacted by smartphone or email. Most middle and high schools have a online platform like Blackboard, where you can log in and view your child’s grades, assignments, and study materials. With all of these resources, it’s wise to ask your child’s teachers early in the year about the best way to stay in contact. Instead of approaching a teacher when your child fails a test, consider establishing a routine in September. Perhaps the teacher emails you a report each week with the frequency in which your child turned in his/her homework. Or, maybe you have an agreement that when Michael has a rough morning, you text his teacher after the school drop-off line to let her know his status. However you choose to communicate, ensure that it’s done in a mutually-agreed upon manner. This will make both you and the teacher feel respected and remain focused on the goal of setting your child up for success.