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:
- 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.
- 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 them 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!).
- Form strong relationships with the teachers. Strong relationships among parents, teachers, 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 their new teacher. Coach them on how to introduce themselves and invite your child to a meeting that both of you attend, when they can start to advocate for themselves and come up with strategies for getting extra help when they need it. 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.
- School supply shopping with organization in mind. You know your child needs notebooks and pens but use school supply shopping at 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.
- 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. Their 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 their new classroom as smoothly as possible.