As an educator working with students with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), perhaps one of the greatest challenges is getting those students ready for a new school year…and back in the learning mindset. No one ever said teaching a child with ADHD was going to be an easy task, but as a professional educator, it is a challenge you are committed to, heart and soul. Students with ADHD do present a unique challenge, but here are some back-to-school tips for teachers like you to consider before the first bell of the new year rings:
1.Understand That Structure and Routine are the Keys to Success
Setting a routine and keeping a structure have long been established by behavioral specialists as primary keys to success when dealing with an ADHD in the classroom. As such, talk with the student about how to go about this; be clear regarding the consequences that will result if and when rules are disregarded, and don’t shy away from getting tough. Let him or her know that enforcement of the rules equates to little more than an act of concern as a teacher.
2.Set up a Few Goals and Rewards for the Year Prior to School Starting
The start of a new school year will be here before we know it, and for some ADHD kids and their parents, this period is understandably associated with added stress and anxiety. From an educator’s perspective, you should understand that while setting goals for kids with ADHD in the classroom is an admirable approach to lessening these anxieties, motivation for achieving those goals is enhanced by the anticipation of rewards. Setting some reasonable goals for the school year sets the tone while providing clear expectations that can lead to a successful academic period, as amazing as that sounds. The following are suggestions that could be made to the child’s parents:
- Completing assignments and turning them in
- Getting ready for school on time
- Good behavioral reports from school
- Getting to bed on time
- Staying up late on weekends
- Extra time to use media (video games, iPods, computers, TVs, et al)
- Special outing for a good report card each quarter
The key is making sure each goal is obtainable and reasonable.
3.Meet with Parents at the Beginning of the School Year
Make arrangements, if they do not do so, to meet with the child’s parents at the earliest possible convenience; if the child has an IEP or a 504 plan then you can discuss with the parents how to best work with them to implement the plan in the classroom. During the meeting, inform the parents of any major projects or assignments that are coming up during the year, and let them in on your policies regarding homework. Establish communication with the parents with regard to keeping track of completed and outstanding assignments.
The important thing to remember here is that showing you are an interested teacher that wants to play an active, supportive role can lead to a relationship that can help keep your student on track and make it easier to work out problems.
Getting a Child with ADHD Back to School
With ADHD in the classroom, the start of the new year doesn’t have to be filled with dread. Anxiety, by definition, is human reaction to fear, and in this case there is the fear of the unknown (“How will things go this school year?”) as well as fear of past history (“Will there be a repeat of previous school year experiences?”) – but the best way to handle anxiety is to confront the fearful situation and develop a plan to handle it in a way that yields a positive outcome.