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.
Open ongoing communication between parents and teachers is essential for kids with ADHD. In fact, the most effective non-medication interventions for kids with ADHD involve regular communication between parents and teachers as a key treatment component. At the start of a new school year parents have the opportunity to set the stage for productive ongoing collaboration with their child’s teacher. Follow these guidelines to get things started off on the right foot:
Everyone feels anxious on the first day of school. Even kids who love school and look forward to the first day feel some butterflies in their stomach as they wonder what their new teacher and classmates will be like. For kids with ADHD who have struggled with school in the past and whose relationships with classmates have often been challenging, the back to school jitters that they experience are often more intense than most. Even if they don’t talk about feeling nervous, the anxiety will still be there and may show up in other ways – like uncharacteristic irritability, difficulty sleeping, and complaints about stomachs and headaches. As a parent it can be hard to know how to help your child cope with his or her anxiety. In addition to strategies that help with everyday anxiety, like taking deep breaths or distracting yourself from anxious thoughts, there are a few important things you can do to help your child cope leading up to the first day of school.
Did you know that routines are an essential tool for managing ADHD? Routines help create daily habits that allow us to shift into “autopilot mode” so we can get things done without having to repeatedly plan each step and focus intently on every detail. For kids with ADHD who are getting ready to head back to school, developing a powerful and effective autopilot mode can be invaluable. Routines make it much easier for kids to remember everything they need to bring to school each day. They also build independence so they can get up and ready in the morning without repeated reminders from their parents. As a result, routines lead to less frustration and family conflict over things like leaving the house late in the morning or forgetting to bring completed homework back to school the next day.
With the first day of school just weeks away, it’s time to stock up on all of the school supplies, clothes, and accessories that your kids are going to need this year. Back-to-school shopping can seem overwhelming when your child has ADHD. The idea of having to keep track of an active, impulsive, and distractible child while also managing a long shopping list is daunting for parents. For kids, the stress, overstimulation, and temptations that accompany back-to-school shopping lay the perfect foundation for the predictable arguments and meltdowns. No one can avoid back-to-school shopping, but there are many things you can do to make it a more positive experience for you and your child.