I have an incredible network of professionals and so I thought I would take the opportunity and reach out to some teachers and find out from them a few tips for parents of kids, especially those with ADHD, whose kids just don’t seem to like school. Here is what they had to share:
One teacher wrote: I have a lot of kids who have ADHD, both diagnosed and undiagnosed. I also have a lot of families who are in denial about ADHD and what happens to the kids as learners if it goes undiagnosed. My first bit of advise is to be honest with the teachers about what really happens at home. As a teacher, I am there to help the student learn and succeed, and I need to know what is going on at home to figure out how to proceed in the classroom.
Every home has challenges and chaos. Not every family can follow the behavioral modification plans and strategies all the time, not everyone can be patient and reinforce good behavior in moments and even hours when there seems like no end in sight, you can’t always have the answer. So let’s not worry about what the teachers will think about how our home is run, let’s be honest.
I work in various ways when I have students seemingly uninterested in learning or school. I keep my classroom at a fast paced and structured environment. There is hardly any down time. I have found that with my ADHD kids, if I keep them busy at all times, their disability doesn’t have time to manifest. I also give the students a break when they need it, sometimes they need to put their head down or go for a walk. At that point, I make up an errand for them to do (go to the office, go to the nurse to pick up a bandage or two, etc.) I also set small goals in my classroom. I start each morning with a meeting, and I make a list with the class of all the things that we need to do during the day. If a student doesn’t particularly like science, they realize that science is only 20 minutes, and then we can move on to Math, or Reading.
Reward the kids during the course of the day. Sometimes its a snack, sometimes its extra computer or recess time, but what they really like is being able to make choices on their own and direct parts of their day.
Another teacher added that based on experience, children with ADHD who have parents very involved in their schooling seem to realize that education is a must; even if they struggle with enjoying it. Parents with ADHD kids have to be very creative to make every day connections to their child’s learning; keeping it fun and engaging. These parents have to work harder to keep things interesting.
For example… a lesson in school about fractions might encourage a walk around outdoors to find shapes that can be divided. It is a time commitment beyond homework, which can be very difficult, however it can make an enormous impact on a child’s view of education and learning.
Another point that came out is that parents need to understand their children’s learning disability, what it is, how it impacts them, etc…If ADHD is suspected, get them tested to be sure. Schools are required to make the learning environment conducive for all kids however the disability has to impact the ability to learn in a child which does not always mean academic accommodations must be made; each child is different. Not all parents like to resort to medication to help with ADHD symptoms…they need to remember that the right ratio will suppress hyperactivity allowing their child to learn, be less impulsive and not be disruptive. This is a difficult area for teachers to discuss with families, but when we as teachers know about medication we can monitor when it looks like medication has taken effect, when there might be fall off or changes.
Medication isn’t the only answer, at school we have implement strategies to keep kids engaged just as they need to be at home.
The biggest piece of advise is to keep things STRUCTURED, ROUTINE, and CONSISTENT. This is really what makes things run smoothly, and makes for a happy, educational, and fun day for the students. They always know what is expected and what is going to happen and the only way that is accomplished is through COMMUNICATION. Communicating with the families, and students are key.
Thank you so much for my teacher volunteers, your insight is so valuable!