A new school year is fast approaching. For many parents of children and teens with attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), the previous school year and any difficulties associated with it might seem like a distant memory. Unfortunately, such difficulties don’t always resolve themselves from one school year to the next.
As your child or teen prepares to head back to school, it can be helpful to evaluate how the previous school year went and to be proactive in making adjustments so that more success is experienced this time around. In looking back, ask yourself some questions. Were you/your child/teen satisfied with his or her grades in each course? Do you/your child/teen feel that he or she could have done better? What percentage of homework did your child/teen forget to hand in? How did he or she do on exams in specific classes? How did he or she perform on projects? Did he or she put in enough time to study? Was there enough time in the schedule to complete tasks? Was your child/teen happy overall?
After you and your child or teen think about the answers to these questions (and perhaps others you thought about on your own), the next step is to figure out where you want to improve—and how.
Here are some suggestions for addressing some of the questions above as well as general academic issues that are commonly experienced by young people with ADHD:
- Get your child or teen a tutor to help with subjects that have proven to be difficult.
- If your child/teen has an individualized education program (IEP), 504 Plan, or otherwise receives services through school, review those services and see what was helpful last year, what was not, and if additional services may be beneficial. Then, consider setting up a meeting with your child’s school to discuss desired adjustments.
- If your child/teen struggles significantly academically and he or she has never been formally evaluated for ADHD, learning disabilities, or other related issues, consider having him or her evaluated to figure out the source of the struggles.
- Consider setting up a meeting with your child’s new teacher, counselor, etc., to discuss concerns from the previous year and how to prevent them from recurring.
- Have your child/teen work with an organizational tutor, ADHD coach, or therapist on time management, organizational, and/or study skills.
- Help your child/teen set up binders, folders, and a solid organizational system before school starts back up.
- Help develop a good place to complete homework, such as at a desk, a quiet area, or other feasible location.
- Determine a method for checking homework completion that your child or teen is comfortable with, such as emailing you assignments each day and then again when he or she has finished; writing them on a whiteboard and crossing them off when they are complete; or even sitting down with you each day to talk about what was assigned and completed.
- Increase use of modern study aids such as talk-to-text software, audio books, etc.
- Determine an appropriate method to contact teachers when needed.
- Help your child/teen feel confident in his or her academic skills by reviewing key concepts (math facts, etc.) daily or as needed.
Being proactive prior to the school year beginning is a great way to make sure that your child or teen improves academically. Social and emotional issues can impede academic functioning as well, so it is also important to ensure that your child or teen is doing well socially, isn’t experiencing (or is effectively managing) anxiety, depression, or related issues, and that other issues that might contribute to difficulties at school are addressed.
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