20 Tips for Helping Kids with ADHD Succeed in School

As the new school year approaches, check out Dr. Hallowell’s advice for how to help your children with ADHD get on (and stay on) the right track. These tips originally appeared on drhallowell.com, where you can find lots of useful tips on parenting.


20 Tips for Helping Kids with ADHD Succeed in School

By Dr. Ned Hallowell

1. There is no substitute for parent understanding the child’s mind and conveying that over and over again to teachers! A child needs an advocate after a diagnosis of ADHD and too often testing results get “filed away”.

2. Become a partner with your child’s teacher. Don’t go in with a set of things you “want” from the teacher. Go in with the goal of creating a relationship that will support your child. Consider baking brownies or helping out in class. Treat your child’s teacher as the professional she is.

3. Creativity is impulsivity gone right. Encourage it in your child and use it yourself.

4. Most kids with ADHD don’t do things the “normal way.” Don’t feel bad about this, and don’t say or do things that will make your child feel badly about his or her unique approach. Also, work with teachers to get rid of the shame in approaching problems and situations in a  non-standard fashion.

5. Getting rid of shame and fear are key! The greatest learning disorder of all is fear. All kids, and this includes kids with ADHD, need to feel emotionally safe in the classroom and at home. Talk with your child about his or her classroom and social experiences to make sure this is happening. Remember Dr. Hallowell’s own experience learning to read with dyslexia and how much having Mrs. Eldredge’s arm around him encourage him to try.

6. Set your child up to make progress on something that matters to him. This builds confidence and motivation. (For more on building confidence, see the book “The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness” by Dr. Hallowell.

7. With all children, but particularly with kids with ADHD, simple, consistent rules are the best. This is true of the classroom and at home. For example, always treat others with respect is a simple rule that can be applied to many situations.

8. Use all modalities/multi sensory training: Visual, auditory, kinesthetic.

9. Create a predictable schedule at school and at home. Kids thrive in situations that have enough predictability that they don’t need to guess about what is coming next (this does not mean “boring” though!) An important part of that schedule is getting enough sleep. Get your kids into bed early, if at all possible.

10. Give warnings about upcoming transitions from one activity to another. For example, “Now we are going to write our practice sentences, then we are going to move into science.”

11. Don’t be stingy with accommodations. One example is extended time on tests. The idea of the test is generally to see if a child has mastered certain material. Does the amount of time that is needed on the test make a difference? Why not give all kids untimed tests?

12. It is easier to take on a big task if it is broken down into small steps.

13. Monitor progress often and give feedback often.

14. All kids need escape valves. Make sure to provide time to get up from desk, walk around, have recess, bring some physical activity into what they are doing.

15. Make sure to give positive feedback when it is deserved. Don’t fake it, though. Kids know whether or not you are just trying to puff them up.

16. Teach outlining and memory tricks.

17. Make a game out of learning.

18. Consider talking with your teacher about having a home to school notebook for quick comments on daily basis and easy communications.

19. Family dinner is one of the highest predictors of high SAT scores. Take the time to have family dinner and connect with each other.

20. Driving in a car is another great way to connect with your kids. Spending time, anywhere, is important. Check in regularly with your kids.


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