ADHD: How to Help Your Child Succeed at School

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects your ability to pay attention, concentrate, and remember. Children who have it also can have a tough time connecting with other kids their age.

These things can make school especially hard. But there are ways to help your child have an easier time in class.

Educate Yourself

It helps to be familiar with laws, regulations, and policies in place to support your child:

Your child’s rights: Two federal laws are in place to make sure children with disabilities get a “free and appropriate education.” The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require schools to offer services and other things to help children learn.

Your state may have other laws about this, too.

Individualized Education Program (IEP): If your child needs different expectations of what he learns, or different ways for him to learn it, he should have an IEP. It will:

  • Detail those needs
  • Explain the services the school will give him
  • Note how his progress will be measured

504 Plan: If your child doesn’t need an IEP and will be in class with other students on his grade level, this document outlines other ways the school will support him.

The policies and support available at your child’s school : Make a written request to your child's principal for an evaluation for services. On its website, an organization called Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) offers an example of a letter you might send.

Many public schools also offer social skills groups. These are small gatherings -- usually between two and eight kids -- that are led by a school psychologist or speech therapist. They can help kids learn how to connect with their peers and handle certain social situations.

Talk With Teachers

Meet to talk about your child's needs and goals, and see what they can do to help him in class. This might include letting him sit in the front row and away from doors and windows. That can help him avoid distractions and stay focused. The teacher also can better see if he needs a little help.

It’s also a good idea for your child to have a schedule for the day, and a written behavior plan -- which encourages positive actions -- posted on a nearby wall, or on his desk.

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At Home

A good way to support your child is to create a routine for when they're home:

Have him do his homework as close to the same time every day as possible. Set up a special place to do it, too. Let him take breaks every 10 to 20 minutes so he can move around. Make sure these breaks don't involve screens like those on a TV or phone.

Make a calendar to keep track of assignments. Set up a way for him to know which ones are most important. For example, you might color-code things to show priorities. Your kid can even use an app to help organize tasks and manage time.

Your child is also likely to focus better at school and at home if he has times -- before and after school -- when he can be active.

This can also help him get better sleep, which can help with focus and behavior.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on April 03, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Attention Deficit Disorder Association: “ADHD: The Facts.”

CHADD, the National Resource on ADHD: “Educational Rights,” “Education.”

Understood: For Learning & Attention Issues: “Understanding Individualized Education Programs,” “Understanding 504 Plans.”

A.D.D. Resource Center: “School-Based Management of Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: 105 Tips for Teachers.”

Child Mind® Institute: “School Success Kit for Kids with ADHD.”

Helpguide.org: “ADHD and School.”

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