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Strategies to Help Your ADHD Student

January 18, 2009 · Filed Under Academic Areas, Behavior, Parents' Corner 

I just spent one of the longer hours of tutoring that I’ve had in quite a while with a new student who is pretty severely ADHD.  He’s a middle schooler who’s totally overwhelmed right now, and failing three classes.  Of course it is the end of the semester, and his parents are looking for a quick fix.  I wish I had it for them.  What I do have, however, are some practical suggestions that might help some other family keep it from getting this bad.  Let me know if you try any and how they work out for you.

  • Stay in Close Contact with the Teachers.  You’re all in the same boat and you all have the same goal.  You want the kid to succeed.  If you stay in close touch with the school personnel, you can find out about problems before they become insurmountable.  Be proactive here.  Some teachers will give a shout out if they get worried about your kid, but many are struggling to keep up themselves.  Don’t expect the school to let you know there’s trouble until it’s way too late to do anything about it.
  • Get a List of Assignments.  Your child has ADHD.  That means that he or she is simply not going to grow into academic responsibility as quickly as peers.  YOU need to help him or her get organized and stay that way.  See if your school has a homework hotline system or other means of communicating what assignments are due and when.  Use it. 
  • Buy Your Child Organizational Tools.  Get those notebooks with lots of sections.  My girls always preferred a five-subject theme book with pockets on the pages between the sections.  At least one manufacturer makes a version with plastic dividers instead of the usual lightweight cardboard.  Teach your child to keep everything of the subject: notes, papers, assignments, in the correct pocket.  Don’t tolerate loose papers anywhere.
  • Find out the policy about late work and extra credit.  You’ll need to know details about what can and cannot be turned in late.  Don’t take your student’s word for it; check with the teacher to confirm.  And find out if there are extra credit options.  Frustrated students often skip over these opportunities, thinking their grade is just fine, then discover that they need every point they can get.

It takes a lot of practice to go to school with ADHD.  Show your child that you are on his or her side.  Be proactive and see what you can do to help.  There’s time to remove these supports when grades are under control and stable.


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