Back to School can be a challenging time, for parents and students alike. But for families living with ADHD it can prove particularly trying. One of the often overlooked facts about this is that it doesn’t go away after elementary, middle, or even high school. Families dealing with ADHD often battle Back to School challenges throughout their school career, even through college.
What follows are 7 things that will help you survive the Back to School season and even come out ahead! (These are written for the parent but can be adapted for the student or even the teacher very easily)
- Plan for the first day of school. Begin talking about it early. People living with ADHD function much better if they know what is coming and there are no surprises.
- Keep conversations positive. Given the creative imagination of people with ADHD they are often able to imagine some amazingly bad first days of school. Keep things light hearted and focused on how much fun they’ll have.
- Encourage them and their ability to make friends. Those with ADHD can sometimes have trouble in social situations and making/keeping friends. Oftentimes they miss important social cues, making them appear over-bearing or insensitive to those who don’t understand.
- Have all supplies ready before the first day of school. Let the student get comfortable with the new supplies and familiar with the organizational system they will be using in the upcoming year.
- If possible meet with the teacher before the start of the school year. This goes back to calming the stresses of items 1 and 3.
- Remind them they are smart! Students with ADHD can get so much criticism from well-meaning teachers and stressed out faculty that they begin to doubt themselves. Don’t let this happen. Encourage your sensitive student to excel and embrace their brain-style!
- Have fun! Keep conversations and preparations for the first day of school light hearted and proactive. Talk about it often. Plan the outfit, the breakfast and lunch, even what they will do on recess. The less that is unknown to them the more confident they will feel entering their new grade with new teachers and new friends.
With these tips, embrace the new school year. Sometimes we anticipate the stress that we KNOW is about to come and we actually end up creating it! As parents there are so many things we must do and tolerate, and staying calm and positive, even when our kids are getting on our last nerve, is on that list. But I promise, it will make a difference.