Make going back to school as easy as ABC

With days left of school holidays, your kids will be squeezing in every late night, lazy morning and fun in the sun they can. Nothing spoils their holiday than an eleventh hour rush to get ready to go back to school.

Trading holiday fun for school can be difficult for any child, but for children living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), getting used to classrooms and homework again can be a challenge.

The last few weeks of the holidays are ideal to prepare for the school year and to ease them into the transition. Rather than a list of back-to-school burdens, think of it as starting with the right foot forward so that they can have a productive, positive year.

Here are a few ways to make the transition as easy as A, B, C with a little planning and a lot of communication.

Back to school means back to routine 
Your child will need time to readjust to early morning wake up calls and seven-hour work days. The change won’t happen overnight so start at least two weeks before school starts, even if you are still on holiday.

A predictable and consistent sleeping schedule is an important part of a successful school year if you have a child with ADHD. Agree on a realistic bedtime and wake-up call with your child, giving them enough sleep to get them through the day.

If getting them to bed on time is always chaos, allow a 30-minute down time or reading, listening to music or just talking softly. A good night’s sleep does wonders for a child’s confidence and reduces anxiety the next day.

This will all form part of a school-night that you can develop with your child or teen with ADHD. It is also helpful to write it down on a daily planner with a checklist of everything they need to do every night before school. Checking homework, prepping uniforms, packing bags and making lunches are essential.

Take the time to organise their study area and school supplies. Let them take part in getting their room ready for the school year. Remove old school supplies and any clothes than don’t fit them or old school supplies.

Structure and routine are keys to success for a child or teen with ADHD so start early.

Conversations for mommy and me  
The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to check in with your child or teen living with ADHD as well as everyone involved in their education. Make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to managing their symptoms.

Firstly, make sure you understand the condition. ADHD has three core symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. All three present in different ways in each child or adolescent.

There are also common co-existing conditions like anxiety and aggression associated with ADHD. Children and adolescents with ADHD are also likely to gave a learning difficulty of some sort such as dyslexia.

It is important to know how the symptoms present themselves in your child, so you can develop individualised coping mechanisms for them.

Sit down and talk to your child or teen about their ADHD before the year starts. Make sure they know that ADHD is not a prescription of failure. Emphasize the positive influence their ADHD can have on their work. Remind them that they are the most out-of-the-box thinkers in their class who will bring a unique perspective to each day in the class. When other children may panic in a crisis, children and teens with ADHD can be cool and calm.

Keeping the communication line open is vital to a successful and anxiety free transition to school.

Check in with their teacher
Have a conversation with their new teacher to make sure they know about your child or teen’s ADHD and how the symptoms present. If your child has an Individualised Education Program (IEP), share this with the teacher.

An IEP outlines specific accommodations that parents, teachers and your child agree will help create success at school. This could include special seating or homework changes. If you don’t already have one, writing an IEP at the beginning of the year with their teacher will help set the tone and goals for the year.

With a comprehensive treatment plan from a medical professional and the right support, there are no limits to what your child with ADHD can achieve.

If you think your child displays symptoms consistent with ADHD, take them through the self-assessment test. Take the results to their GP at the beginning of the year.

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