Supporting a child with ADHD
School is a field of challenges, especially for children with Attention Deficit or ADHD. The child’s success should be taken for granted whenever there is patience and cooperation, and a well-organised and consistent plan on behalf of the parent, in tandem with the teachers and the experts.
The parent not only plays with his child and teaches him/her, but also cooperates with the teacher, following common learning strategies. Thus, the child both learns and feels a happy pupil in the school environment.
The class environment can become an unwanted place for a child with ADHD. Pupils are required to participate in the lesson, listen quietly, and be focused. Maybe the most frustrating of all this, is the fact that these children wish to learn and behave as their fellow classmates do.
It is neurological deficits and not reluctance that keep children with ADD or ADHD away from a traditional way of learning.
There are various ways in which parents can cooperate with the teacher so as to ensure a a good school performance for children with ADHD. They can jointly help the child stand on his own feet, have self-esteem and effectively face challenges in and out of school.
Contact the school and the teachers
As a parent, you are the guardian of your child. For the success of your child at school, it is of vital importance to meet his needs (e.g. WC hygiene), as well as, listen to what the school staff has to tell you.
When you want to talk via the phone or via email, or even if you want to arrange a personal meeting, please try to be calm and think positive. A good attitude on your behalf facilitates to a great extent communication with the school.
Avoid negating the teachers or question the validity and accuracy of what they tell you.
You can arrange a meeting with the school head teacher(s) and teachers at the beginning of the school year. It is advisable to attend such meetings at least on a monthly basis.
Make sure you visit your child’s classroom so as to get a feeling of your child’s natural learning environment.
Set common goals. Discuss your hopes over the school success of your child, as well as, the ways to achieve it.
Listen to the teacher carefully and avoid interruption. Understanding the challenges your child faces at school is the key to to finding solutions to his behaviour.
Share information. You know best your child’s personal history – the teacher sees the child on a daily basis. Share your observations freely and encourage the teacher to do the same. It is commonly known that teachers complain about parents having difficulty listening to negative remarks about their child.
Finally, ask the teacher to give you a full account of your child. Communication can be effective only if it is sincere. Ask the teacher whether some home preparation will improve the child’s behaviour.
Developing and organising a home behaviour plan
Find a behavioural pattern of yourself which really works.
Purchase a daily journal/diary and write down your child’s behaviour, depending on everyday events. In this way you will collect a lot of information, especially on difficulties. At the beginning of the school year you can modify your behaviour.
Children with ADHD learn the suitable behaviour in the class, but definitely need well-organised, concise and explicit guidelines so as to keep their symptoms under control. As a parent, it is advisable to mention the aforementioned rules over and over again, through some communication tricks, such as referring to another child.
Children with ADHD better respond to specific day goals, especially when they are accompanied by positive enforcement and worthwhile reward.
Studying should take place away from doors and windows. Isolate your pets when the pupil starts studying. Advise your child to walk or stand up for about 3 minutes for every 20 minutes he has spent studying.
Helping a child with ADHD to organise himself
Now that school begins, organise your parent purchases along with the child-pupil. Of course this should happen after the teachers tell the pupils what the necessary materials are. As soon as you have drawn up a list of your needs, go shopping.
Among the multitude of stationery products try to include coloured files, notebooks, book covers, coloured pens, a binding ‘peg’ and yellow post-it notes. Explain your child how to use every item. If possible, keep an extra set of books and stationery material at home.
Check and help the child organise his belongings on a daily basis, including his school bag, his files and even his pockets.
Help the child write down his daily timetable – afterwards, he should learn how to use checklists for the correct timekeeping of his schedule. Strategies can help obtain a cohesive result. The final check is of vital importance.
Choose a particular time and place at home which can be messy, where he can play with the pet or watch tv.
Teach him a better understanding of the time by using an analogue watch and timers to monitor his work performance.
All this can happen if the requirements are less. For instance, explain to your child that instead of the questions 1-30 in his activity book, he should try to answer the questions 1-15.
Finally, at the same time with school, try to reduce your child’s ADHD by assigning him the same standard task, such as setting the table for lunch/dinner. On the first day, while he observes you doing the task, describe your every move by saying, for example, ‘I put a slice of bread next to every plate’. Over the next days try to make him do and repeat the same.
Avoid negative comments.
Marianna Lagoumidis has studied Dyslexia and ADHD in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and is the CEO of i-paidi.gr company.