It’s a real challenge when our little ones have a tough time paying attention! Sometimes, it’s due to an actual diagnosis, such as ADD or ADHD. I recently received a question from a reader whose son started kindergarten this year, was recently diagnosed by his doctor with ADHD, and is struggling in school. She wants to help him so that he’s successful and doesn’t end up hating school, but she’s not sure where to start. So, I came up with ideas for her, based on my experience as a teacher, and in keeping in mind what is realistic for a classroom setting and to work on at home.
Here’s the question:
Hi Connie, I’m hoping you can help me. My son is struggling in kindergarten. He can’t sit still and doesn’t follow directions well. He was recently diagnosed with ADHD. What can we do to help him? Thanks!
This is tough. It’s not easy when our little ones don’t listen to us. It’s hard to see them struggle. It’s hard to not be able to help them, or to feel like we can’t help them. We get tired of repeating ourselves and dealing with a child who is always distracted and doesn’t follow through with tasks.
But, you can help your child. It’ll take time. And you’ll probably want to tear your hair out, but the best thing you can do for your child is to be consistent, and do your best to help him reach his goals. Before you get started, it might be helpful to write a list of what he’s currently doing (or not doing), and what you’d like him to do (or what he needs to do). Prioritize that list to 1-2 things. Focus on those things until you’re making good, solid progress. Then, slowly add in the rest, one at a time. If you try to work on it all at once, you’ll drive yourself crazy (and probably your child too). And, in all honesty, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Communication is key!
It’s also a good idea to regularly check in with your child’s teacher. Teachers are busy. They have lots of kids to help. Lessons to plan. Assignments to grade. Meetings to attend and other parents to communicate with. But, your child’s education is important and your child deserves to be helped. So, check in with your child’s teacher once a week or so. Find out: What went well this week? What did he struggle with the most? Where does he seem to be making progress? Ask your child’s teacher what their preferred method of communication is. If I have to guess, I’d go with email as the preferred communication method, with randomly dropping into class/school to talk being their least favorite method. Your child’s teacher should have ideas on what has worked well in the past for other children who have ADD/ADHD, so ask for input and advice. What does your child’s teacher think you should be working on at home? How?
A final note on formalities…
Is a formal meeting needed to get everyone on board at school? Does the school need to do testing (or should the school do testing)? If so, put your request in writing and find out what the timeline is for testing and when the school needs to have your meeting set up. I know in my area, the school as 30 days to start testing and 60 days to complete it when the parent makes the request. Your state and district might be different.
Also, keep in mind the time of year it is. If it’s towards the end of the school year (like 2-3 months of school left), I would get a formal plan in place for next year. Just because your child’s current teacher is doing things to help him/her doesn’t mean that future teachers can or will. And, meetings are easier with a teacher who knows your child well, instead of a teacher who has just met your child (middle to end of a school year vs the beginning of one). If you think you should have a formal plan, you need one. If you think your child needs it, request it and get it done. Your child’s education is at stake. Don’t worry about inconveniencing the school. Get that ball rolling to help your child! It’s better to have a plan in place and not need it than to not have a plan in place and wish you had one.