Last Minute School Tips to help Children with ADHD

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Last Minute School Tips to help Children with ADHD

The last six weeks of the school term can be the most stressful out of the entire year for parents and teachers of children and teens with ADHD.

Most of us have noticed it’s during these last couple of months of school that an ADHD child suddenly drops his or her grades, seems to daydream more, has a harder time studying, and gets into trouble more frequently both at and away from school. Why you ask?

The answer is not as simple as 1-2-3 or A-B-C, but involves complex interactions that are unique to each child. Those interactions are best dealt with by evaluating each child individually and assessing changes that have occurred in the classroom, at home and in social occasions because of impending deadlines.

Here are a few of my observations and some suggestions from treating children with ADHD and ADHD teens that will hopefully give you a little edge in helping your ADHD child make it through the rest of this school year successfully:

  1. Spring fever is highly contagious and more so for ADHD kids and teens. Since they have a hard time focusing anyway, once other members of their class slow down on doing homework or focusing on classroom projects, ADHDers usually go more to the extreme and almost quit studying altogether.
  2. Help relieve some of their peer stress by moving them away from other students who aren’t focusing as well as normal. Sometimes just putting a little space between ADHD kids or assigning new seats will help delay the spread of spring fever.
  3. Divert their new-found energy elsewhere. Field trips to the edge of the school grounds to explore for insects, plants and green things work well when combined with normal studies. At home, parents can do the same to help them study for tests and complete science projects and papers. A trip to the public library just might be the answer to help your child focus in quiet surroundings…plus, it gives them a perfect chance to practice good behavior.
    My mother realized the power of the public library in shaping my reading skills and behavior. She took me there every Friday year ‘round.
  4. This is the time to make absolutely sure your ADHD child or teen gets enough sleep and eats properly. I know how tempting it is to back off a little after spring break and let them eat more junk food and stay up later to watch movies or play games, but those are the things that rob your child’s concentration the next day.
    If an ADHD child is sleepy, he or she won’t and can’t focus on class work. Maintain a good sleep schedule and diet at least until school is out.
  5. The end of school is very threatening to ADHD kids and teens. What was a normal pace for them to learn and remember what they study is suddenly thrown into high gear as final exams approach. I know teachers don’t mean to do it, but there seems to be an awful lot of catching-up that has to be done in the last six or seven weeks of school. My mother (a teacher) always called it her “rat-race quarter”.

    Help your child deal with his or her fears, anxiety and pressure by telling them you understand and offering to provide whatever assistance they need. What they might need to make it over the hump is a short-term tutor in a subject they are having problems. You’d be surprised at how much stress you can solve by just listening-lend a good ear.

  6. Be sure not to focus on the grades, instead, focus on your child. It’s his or her stress that is probably causing the problem with grades or behavior. Once that stress is dealt with, the behavior problem will usually go away and the grades will usually go up.
  7. Help you child organize everything needed for the last 6 weeks of school. We all know how the pressure of a deadline can make us forgetful, fidgety, misplace things, and fall behind in everything. For the ADHD child, disorganization at the end of school will be much worse and often will be the thing that causes grades and behavior to slide into a deep, dark hole.
  8. Don’t forget that children forced to study to excess, not allowed to play or have fun, will often rebel and make bad grades and cut-up for spite. Remember the old saying, all work and no play….?
  9. You should ask your child’s doctor to re-evaluate their ADHD diagnosis if extreme sudden behavior changes or an outright learning catastrophe has occurred. Something more serious than spring fever and end-of-the-school-year-syndrome might be going on! Just maybe, the diagnosis of ADHD was in error and your child may be suffering ADHD misdiagnosis.

These are just a few of the many things I’ve noticed about ADHD kids and had told to me by parents of ADHD children and teens as the end of school approached. Hopefully, you can see a way to apply some of these to your ADHD child and prevent their end of the school year crash as June rapidly approaches!

Frank Barnhill, MD

PS…My series on building self-esteem in ADHD kids has gotten very good reviews and a lot of positive feedback.

In case you missed the start of the series:

How to Build Self Esteem in ADHD Kids One

http://www.mistakenforadhd.com/2012/03/how-to-build-self-esteem-in-adhd-kids-one/

 

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