Categories: 2011, August
by Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW
THE END OF SUMMER IS A MIXED BAG FOR
MOST. Kids are sad to let go of leisurely, stress-free
days. Parents are wary of what yet another school year will bring but
also welcome a quiet, peaceful house.
Children with ADHD traditionally have a tough time transitioning,
whether it's from playtime to bedtime, moving from classroom to
classroom, and just about everything in between. Starting school is no
How can you best help your child transition from summer vacation to the
rigors of school?
1. Start now! Get your
child into bed at least fifteen minutes earlier each night so that by
the time school starts, he is into a good bedtime routine. Wake him up
(or have him set his alarm) fifteen minutes earlier each morning, as
2. Never assume your brave or quiet child isn't concerned
about starting school, whether she’s six or sixteen. It's
natural to have fears about the upcoming school year, so encourage your
child to discuss what her worries are. Remind her that these feelings
are normal and that everyone needs an adjustment period.
3. Make sure your child's ADHD treatment is
optimized. Make an appointment with her doctor to discuss her
current medication. Try not to make any changes just as school is
4. Reassess how your child fared in school last
year. Most parents don't want to think about school during the
summer, but it's a good idea to sit and write down what went well and
not so well the year before. This will give you a good idea about what
to consider in making this year a better one for your child.
5. Write a short letter to your child's teachers and
explain her learning style, what works and doesn't work and what your
concerns are. Make sure you also list her strengths. You want
the teachers to have a pretty good "snapshot" of your child.
6. If your child has an IEP or 504 Plan, it's time to
review it and make sure his teachers all have copies of it.
Remember that you can always request a new IEP if you have concerns
about how your child is or will be doing this coming year.
7. Get organized! Easier said than done, but start
a routine before school begins. Place a whiteboard or bulletin board in
a high traffic area of the house and write down your child's schedule.
Make sure you have an extra planner (or three), since there's a good
chance the first one will get lost. Also, assess your child's organizing
style—does she do better with a paper planner or a PDA? Does he
need lots of visual cues? Or is he more likely to remember things using
a digital recorder?
8. Set up an area in the house where your child can study
and keep his school supplies. Does he do study better in
complete silence? Or does he need background music to stay focused?
Remember that everyone has their own style, so ask your child what will
work best, then set up a comfortable study/homework area complete with
all the materials needed for the school year.
9. Come up with a system so that papers get to school and
back each day. Engage your child in brainstorming the best way
this can be achieved.
10. Keep your child's routine structured
but also maintain flexibility if the game plan isn't working.
Doing his or her best in school is your child's job. Making sure
everything is in place for that to occur is your job! Stay in close
contact with the teachers—most welcome email check-ins. In fact,
many parents find that emailing the teachers weekly helps to ensure that
your student is staying on track. Without constant communication, it's
simply too easy for your child to fall through the cracks and cause a
small problem to become a major obstacle. Remember, too, to praise your
child's efforts and if necessary, reward your child for his or her hard
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