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ADHD in Children Health Center

Getting ADHD Kids Back to School

Expert strategies for preparing ADHD kids for a new school year.
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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 school.

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 and organization.

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 teachers.

"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 pay attention.

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