New School Year Ramp Up

By Dr. Mary Rooney, Ph.D.

It may feel like summer just started, but next year’s school year is right around the corner.  For kids with ADHD getting back into the swing of things at school can be challenging. A rough start to the school year can be difficult to bounce back from, and for some kids with ADHD it can kick off a downward spiral of low self-confidence and poor academic performance.  

Use these 5 quick tips in the 30 days leading up to the start of school to help your child with a smooth transition:

  1. Get back on a schedule & set a routine. It’s hard to abruptly transition from the lax routine of summer to early morning wake-ups and routines, especially for kids with ADHD who are prone to having difficulties falling asleep at night and waking up on time in the morning.  So, phase in the school-year schedule gradually.  Begin by inching back their wake-up time in 15-minute increments in the weeks leading up to the start of school, and make sure you’ve reached the school wake-up time at least one week before the first day of school. The same goes for bedtime, where later summer bedtimes should be inched back in 15-minute increments until you reach school-appropriate bedtimes at least one week before school begins.
  2. Build excitement, not dread. Instead of dreading the end of summer, work on building excitement for the year ahead!  Yes, school is stressful for kids with ADHD, but there are many things that kids enjoy about school as well. Engage your child in activities that remind him or her about the fun parts of learning, like museum outings focused on science topics for the upcoming year, or popular and engaging movies about famous inventors or historical time periods. Read bedtime stories that focus on your child’s favorite part of school (even if that’s recess!).
  1. Form strong relationships with the teachers. Strong relationships among parents, teachers, and students are essential when a child has ADHD, and it’s practically never too early to start laying the foundation for good relationships here. If your school offers an open house, take advantage – even if this isn’t your child’s first year in this school. Meet the teachers, counselors and support staff who will be assisting your child and agree to create a plan together for your child’s success. Talk positively to your child about his or her new teacher. Coach your child on how to introduce himself or herself and invite your child to a meeting that both of you attend, when he or she can start to advocate for himself or herself and come up with strategies for getting extra help when needed. If your child has a 504 Plan or an IEP, get a meeting scheduled as early in the school year as possible, and have your child attend the meeting if this is appropriate in your school setting.
  2. School supply shopping with organization in mind. You know your child needs notebooks and pens but use school supply shopping as the time to set-up a homework organization plan. I’ve written several blogs with recommendations about what your child’s homework plan and space should look like and those may be a helpful reference here. The key thing is to get as many pieces of the homework puzzle in place before the first day of school, so your child can start building good homework habits right away.
  3. Start building academic skills before the school year begins. Huntington Learning Centers offer summer tutoring programs designed for kids of all ages. For elementary students, summer tutoring can help identify areas of weakness, and work toward developing core skills in reading, writing, and math that are at or above grade level. Your child’s instructors can also help set up study skill plans that your child can use from Day 1.

Being proactive and planning for the start of the new school year ahead of time can help prevent problems before they start and help your child transition into a new classroom as smoothly as possible.  



Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.


Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit

This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.

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