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Success at School: A Back-to-School Guide for ADHD Children

A weekly series of back-to-school tips from the editors of ADDitude magazine. How to help your ADHD child get classroom accommodations, get organized for school, learn to focus, better follow directions, conquer homework challenges, make new friends, and more...

Week 17: 18+ Ways to Help ADHD Kids Improve Writing Skills

When it comes to writing assignments, ADHD students may have tons of creative ideas -- they just struggle when it comes to getting them down on paper. Use these smart systems to help your child organize his thoughts and complete papers and essays:

Classroom System: Have your student write notes about a topic on individual sticky notes.
She can then group together notes that feature similar ideas. That way, she can easily identify themes and major concepts from the groupings.
Read more writing strategies for the classroom.

Classroom Accommodation: Give leeway for poor handwriting or grammar.
Teachers can let these skills slide unless an assignment specifically measures handwriting or grammatical ability. What's important is that the child works hard to remember and communicate.
See other classroom accommodations that can help your child with writing skills.

At-Home System: Buy your child a journal.
Have your kid write down his thoughts about outings to the movies, visits with relatives, or trips to museums. Make the activity more exciting by asking your child to e-mail you his thoughts or text-message you from his cell phone.
Find out other ways to get your kid writing more.

Read more tips in the full article: 18 + Ways to Help ADHD Students Improve Writing Skills

Week 16: Your Step-by-Step Plan for Managing Meds at School

Some ADHD kids need a midday dose of ADHD medication to maintain focus throughout the school day. Use this step-by-step guide to set up an in-school treatment plan to ensure that your kid gets his dosage everyday, on time:

Step 1: Assess your child's needs.
Start by figuring out a medication schedule that works. Some ADHD kids do best with a short-acting tablet in the morning and another in the afternoon, ensuring they'll have an appetite for lunch. Other kids can take a morning dose that covers the entire school day.
Read more ways to evaluate your kid's needs.

Step 2: Get your child's paperwork and prescriptions in order.
Request a medication authorization form from your child's school. Most forms have three parts: one that you fill out and sign, a second for your child's physician to complete, and a third to be approved by a school administrator.
See what else you need to do.

Step 3: Work with the school nurse.
Set up a time to meet with the nurse. Ask the nurse to alert you if your child misses a dose and if there are any questions or problems that need to be addressed.
Find out what else you and the nurse should discuss.

Read more tips in the full article: Managing ADHD Medication at School: Your Step-by-Step Plan

Week 15: Reading Comprehension Made Fun -- and Easy

Some ADHD kids have trouble understanding what they read. They may not be able to make plot connections or relate what they're reading to knowledge they already have. Luckily, you can teach your child tricks that'll boost her reading comprehension. Start with these smart strategies:

Tip 1: Read to your child.
Even if your kid can read on his own, there is value in reading aloud to him. Kids usually have stronger listening skills than reading skills, so your child can comprehend more if he reads along silently as you narrate a book.
How to be a reading role model.

Tip 2: Encourage note-taking.
Have your child keep index cards nearby to jot down important information as he reads. Note-taking pushes a reader to make sense of the material, and the cards become terrific tools when studying for tests.
More ways to engage your child's interest.

Tip 3: Ask for predictions.
When reading with your child, stop occasionally to ask what she thinks might happen next. This requires her to integrate what she's learned so far about the characters and storyline -- and about how stories are typically organized -- to anticipate the rest of the plot.
Learn other ways to make reading exciting.

Read more tips in the full article: ADHD at School: 10 + Tips to Improve Reading Skills

Week 14: Reading, Writing, and Math Tricks for ADHD Students

ADHD students process information differently, and they often need study aids tailored to their unique styles of learning. These engaging reading, writing, and math tricks will help your child comprehend and complete schoolwork -- and they may boost his grades, too.

Reading Trick: Stick 'em up.
Have your child mark important passages with sticky notes, so she can find them later. Use a symbol for each topic: a smiley face for information about a character, a house for setting details, a star for important ideas. See more ADHD reading tricks.

Writing Trick: Draw it.
Let your kid use diagrams or drawings to plot and tell a story. See more ADHD writing tricks.

Math Trick: See the signs.
Have your child highlight the operational sign (+, -, x, ÷) for each math problem before doing the calculations. This will help your child remember the type of computation he should be doing. See more ADHD math tricks.

Read more tips in the full article: 12+ Tricks to Help ADHD Kids with Reading, Writing & Math

Week 13: Help ADHD Students Control Their Impulses

Does your child leap without looking? Many ADHD kids fail to stop and think before taking action. As a result, they end up in trouble for what they say and do. Help your child control his impulses by following these tried-and-true tips at school and at home.

School Solution: Tape "behavior cards" to ADHD students' desks.
Some ADHD kids benefit from seeing rules like "Raise hands before speaking," posted on their desks. If privacy is an issue, tape the cards to a sheet of paper that remains out during class but can be put away when necessary. See more strategies for reigning in impulsive classroom behavior.

School & Home Solution: Don't use ADD as an excuse for bad behavior.
ADHD may explain why Johnny hit Billy, but ADHD did not make him do it. ADHD kids need to accept responsibility and learn self-control. Learn other discipline strategies for ADHD kids at school and at home.

Home Solution: Respond to positive and negative behaviors equally.
When your child does something, recognize and remark on the behavior. Then, respond to positive actions with praise, attention, and rewards, or immediately discipline bad behavior. See more ways to teach impulse control at home.

Read more tips in the full article: Impulse Control: Helping ADHD Students Manage Their Behaviors

Week 12: Complete and Turn in Assignments -- on Time

Handing in completed homework and projects poses a challenge for some ADHD kids. The steps involved -- listening to instructions, writing them down, doing the work, and remembering to submit it -- can be daunting. Use these smart strategies to boost your kid's organizational skills and help him get his assignments in -- on time.

Teacher Solution: Break up big assignments.
For long-term assignments, teachers can track your child's progress at different points in the process, rather than only at the end. See more ways teachers can help ADHD students complete assignments.

Parent Solution: Don't let your child procrastinate.
If you don't nudge your kid, he may never start his homework! He will likely need your help to get started on a task and see it through. Learn other ways to guide your child through assignments, from start to finish.

Read more tips in the full article: ADHD at School: Remembering to Turn in Assignments

Week 11: End Classroom Interruptions -- for Good

ADHD kids have a hard time controlling their impulses. This often leads them to call out in class or interrupt when teachers or other students are talking. Use these techniques to teach your ADHD kid to stop interrupting class.

In the Classroom: Have a secret signal.
Decide on a simple gesture that will let your child know that he is interrupting and needs to stop. For example, one teacher used a "wind it down" hand signal in the shape of a descending spiral staircase. See more ways to stop classroom interruptions before they begin.

At Home: Start "No Interrupting" training.
Tell your child that you're going to do an activity that can't be interrupted, like talking on the phone. Set up your child with a task that will hold his attention, then take breaks every few minutes to praise your child for not bursting in. Learn other ways to encourage fewer interruptions at home.

Read more tips in the full article: End Interruptions: ADHD Behavior Solutions for School and Home

Week 10: Tips to Help ADHD Kids Follow Directions

ADHD kids have a tough time following instructions. They may not be tuned in when directions are given, or they can't stay focused long enough to comprehend them. Learn how to make sure your kid listens to -- and understands -- instructions completely at school and at home.

Classroom Solution: Go high tech.
ADHD kids can use digital audio recorders to store information and play it back immediately. Show your child how to dictate and listen to homework assignments and other reminders throughout the school day. Learn more ways to help your child follow directions at school.

At-Home Solution: "Redirect" bad behavior.
If your child agrees to do homework but gets sidetracked, "redirect" rather than punish his actions. For example, if you asked him to complete a reading assignment but found him outside playing basketball, redirect him by saying: "Remember, you're supposed to finish your reading assignment. I'll hold on to the basketball, so you'll know where to find it when you're done." Learn other ways to help your ADHD kid follow instructions at home.

Read more tips in the full article: 12+ Ways to Help ADHD Students Follow Directions

Week 9: Help ADHD Kids Fight the Fidgets

ADHD kids are always on the move. Motor and impulse control problems lead them to fidget when they have to sit in place for a long time. Use these tips to help your kid get the wiggles out -- so he can focus and get his classwork and homework done.

School Solution: Let ADHD Kids Run Errands
Allowing ADHD students to deliver messages to another classroom gives kids a sense of self-worth while providing them with opportunities to stretch their legs and move around. Learn more ways to help your child release pent-up energy at school.

After-School Solution: Sweat It Out
Your ADHD child can use up excess energy by playing sports or exercising regularly. Choose your kid's physical activity wisely. Soccer, for example, is better than baseball because there's less standing around. Learn other ways to help your ADHD kid expend energy after school.

Read more tips in the full article: Get the Wiggles Out: Helping ADHD Children Control Their Need to Move

Week 8: End Distractibility at School and Home

ADHD kids can spend more time daydreaming than completing their assignments. That's because ADHD isn't just an inability to pay attention -- it's the inability to control attention and tune out distractions when activities aren't stimulating. Use these tips to help your child improve his focus.

Classroom Solution: Seat ADHD Students Away from Distractions
Keeping ADHD kids close to the teacher and away from doors or windows will help minimize potential distractions and provide the best stay-focused results. Learn more ways to help your child fend off classroom distractions here.

At-Home Solution: Establish a Daily Homework Routine Based on Your Child's Needs
Some children need to take a break between school and homework. Others may need frequent breaks between assignments. Figure out what works best for your child in order to help her avoid distractions and procrastination. Get more tips for helping your child complete homework here.

Read more tips in the full article: End Distractibility: Improving ADHD Focus at Home and School

Week 7: Helping ADHD Children Manage - and Master - Time

Many children with ADHD struggle to understand sequence, to prioritize their tasks, and to plan ahead. Sometimes, basic time-management lessons can make a huge difference - in school performance and in daily activities like catching the morning bus.
Use these tips to help your child better manage his time.

Tip #1: Understanding Sequence
Make learning before and after concepts more fun by spicing up your daily household requests: "First do 10 jumping jacks, then set the plates on the table." Or "Pick up 5 toys after you run backward to the couch." Specific verbal cues that parents should use.

Tip #2: Using Calendars
Start with a big weekly calendar that your child can help fill in at home. How to make your calendar a multisensory learning opportunity.

Tip #3: Estimating Time
Invest in a few household timers and use them to signal when time is up for brushing teeth, finishing homework, wrapping up video games, etc. Why analog clocks are better.

Read more tips in the full article: Helping ADHD Children Master Time

Week 6: Set Up Classroom Accommodations That'll Really Work

Classroom accommodations can help ADHD kids focus, stay organized, and behave better during the school year. Read on for a few common classroom problems and solutions, and advice for working with your child's teacher to set up any of these 20+ school accommodations.

Problem: Your child acts out to get attention.
Solution: Seat your child near a good role model. Read more about how changing seating arrangements may help your child concentrate.

Problem: Your child is unable to complete work within the given time.
Solution: Your child should be allowed extra time to complete assigned work. Find out what other accommodations may help your child finish on time.

Problem: Your child can't keep up during classroom discussions or note taking.
Solution: Your child should receive peer assistance in note taking and be asked questions during discussions to encourage participation. Learn more ways to prevent your child from being distracted.

Read the Full Article: 20+ ADHD Accommodations That Work

Week 5: How Daily Report Cards Can Improve ADHD School Behavior

A daily report card (DRC) helps teachers, parents, and ADHD students improve behaviors that interfere with academic success. Each day, the teacher records the student's ability to meet select goals, and the child brings home the DRC to share. When a child reaches a predetermined level of success, he receives a reward. Follow these 3 steps to set up your own DRC system.

Step 1: Set Goals
The DRC should contain three to eight goals, chosen with your child's teachers, pertaining to academic work, conduct, and peer relationships. Read more about setting effective goals.

Step 2: Create a Rewards System
To ensure your child's interest in meeting the goals, let her come up with a menu of rewards (with your approval) from which she can choose.

Step 3: Tweak the Targets
As your child responds to the DRC program, he should be able to meet behavior targets more consistently. When that happens, raise the bar. Instead of requiring him to follow class rules with three or fewer violations, for example, make it two or fewer violations.

Read the Full Article: 10 Using a Daily Report Card to Improve ADHD School Behavior

Week 4: 12+ Ways to Help ADHD Students Get Organized for School

For ADHD kids, the inability to organize, prioritize, and manage time makes it hard to stay on top of school assignments. Use these smart strategies at home and in the classroom to provide your kid with the tools, organization systems, and moral support needed to get everything done on time.

Classroom Solution: Give your kid two of everything.
If possible, provide him with two sets of books and supplies -- one for home and one for school. This way, there is less for him to remember to bring back and forth, which also conserves his mental energy for his most important task: learning. Read more classroom solutions here.

At-Home Solution: Enforce time concepts.
ADHD kids need to understand time to stay organized. Help your child practice by giving specific verbal cues -- first, next, then, before, after -- as you develop a routine. Make it fun: "First do ten jumping jacks, then write your name backwards," and have your child give you directions, too. Read more at-home solutions here.

Read the Other Tips and the Full Article: Helping ADHD Students Get Organized for School

Week 3: 10 Easy Ways to Start the School Year Right

Want to get started now on a happier, more organized, more productive school year for your child with ADHD? Follow our ten-step guide to a summer head start:

Step 1: Give your child a self-esteem boost.
To succeed in school, she must believe in herself. Educate your child about her condition and present the upside of it.

Step 2: Ask your child about his friends.
He may need help identifying classmates with whom he could develop constructive friendships. During the first weeks of school, ask your child to describe his classmates, and listen for clues about personalities that might complement his own.

Step 3: Get the teacher on your child's good side.
ADHD kids should think of teachers as teammates, not merely as authorities or enemies. Help your child find something to like about her teacher.

Step 4: Meet with the teacher during the first week of school.
Clarify the specifics of your child's ADHD and make sure the teacher knows about your child's IEP Plan. Any accommodations should begin immediately, and the teacher can make sure that happens.

Read the Full Article: 10 Easy Ways to Start the School Year Right

Week 2: How to Choose the Best School

ADHD kids can excel in teh right learning environments - but fall short in the wrong ones. How can you find a school where your child will really thrive? Follow our four-step guide:

Step 1: Evaluate Your Child's Needs
Take an honest look at your child's behavior. Ask yourself these questions, then list his academic and social needs, strengths, and weaknesses.

Step 2: Interview Schools
Once you have a few schools in mind, speak to principals, teachers, speech therapists, and parents with kids enrolled at the school. Don't know what to ask? Start with these questions.

Step 3: Go on the Open House Tour
Good schools will let you observe classes, talk to teachers, and walk around. While you're there, pay special attention to these three things.

Step 4: Observe the Students
Are students well behaved? Engaged? Here's what their actions tell you about a school.

Read the Full Article: How to Pick the Best School for Your ADHD Child

Week 1: Write an IEP That Works

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) outlines the specific accommodations that a student with ADHD should receive to help bring success at school. Begin with this six-step plan:

Step 1: Review the Symptoms
Knowing the list of ADHD symptoms can help you inform teachers -- and prevent your child from being treated unfairly at school.

Step 2: Know Your Child's Trouble Spots
Determine how your child's symptoms affect her at school. Does she forget to turn in homework? Is she impulsive on the playground? Then, read up on strategies that address these weaknesses.

Step 3: Meet with the Teachers
Come to the IEP meeting with the lists, describing both your child's symptoms and the interventions that you'd like the school to provide.

Continue reading steps 4-6: Write an IEP That Works

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