Getting ADHD Kids Back to School
Expert strategies for preparing ADHD kids for a new school year.
Back to School With ADHD
While researchers investigate what causes ADHD and the brain's impact on
behavior, families like the Whites deal with it on the frontline: at
One of their keys to success with the September transition is to never let
go of structure in the first place. All summer, Joshua and Elissa are enrolled
in day camp, which lets them have fun but also requires both to live by rules
Starting in mid-August, when White and her husband see school around the
corner and the hurdles ahead, they start to shift gears. First on their list is
to push bedtime back by a half-hour to around 8 p.m. for the two children, a
routine that helps them adjust to the demands of school.
Mid-August is also when camp ends, and White has a two-week window to help
the kids get ready for the classroom.
"Probably like most parents, I try to make it fun for them," she
says. "We buy school supplies, arrange our schedules, organize the house,
talk about our activities for the fall ... we try to keep it fun but with lots
of order in between."
Teachers and ADHD Kids
When the school bell rings, White and her family have learned how to make
things work. Both Joshua and Elissa were diagnosed at age 6, so they've become
more familiar with the ins and outs of living with ADHD. White and experts
alike agree the secret to success is a strong bridge between parents and
"Constant contact with your child's teacher is critical," says
Rafael Klorman, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester
in New York who focuses on ADHD. "While once a day might seem like a lot,
it's right on target." Talk with your child's teacher about how often
check-ins make sense for your family. The point is to maintain regular contact
with your child's teacher.
White has had ups and downs with her attempts to build alliances with her
kids' teachers. But she keeps trying, and next year will use technology to her
advantage: She's asked her son's teacher to give her a daily email report, and
the teacher has agreed.
Technology aside, White tries to keep it simple: She asks that her kids sit
in the front of the class, where proximity to the teacher helps them focus and