High School

Q: “How Can I Prepare My ADHD Teen for 9th Grade?”

Identify your rising 9th grader’s true emotional maturity, buy school supplies early, review his ADHD accommodations, and more tips for exceeding the academic demands and expectations of high school.

Top 5 SAT Prep Tips: High School Kid on Staircase

Q: “My teen with ADHD will enter high school in the fall. How can I help him prepare for the academic demands and higher expectations in 9th grade?”

Ninth grade is a big leap for kids with ADHD, whose emotional maturity and executive functioning may lag a few years behind that of their neurotypical peers. Your teen will be navigating a new school (and the stress of finding classrooms), new teachers, new peers, and more advanced classwork while undergoing hormonal changes and new social dynamics. These pressures can exacerbate ADHD symptoms or reveal related difficulties.

6 Tips for 9th Grade

Help your teen meet the new challenges of high school with the following tips:

[Free Download: Transform Your Teen’s Apathy Into Engagement]

  1. Build skills. Identify your teen’s true emotional maturity. For example, does your 8th grader relate to others on a 5th-grade level? Consider what skills will be essential in high school and what you can do together to build them. For example, you might coach your teen on how to respond to teachers and role-play the interactions so he can practice using a respectful tone. Reflecting on situations your teen has navigated successfully in middle school also builds confidence. Offer reassurance and support.
  2. Get organized. Buy school supplies early, if possible, and set up a desk or a quiet place in the home for your teen to do his schoolwork. Create a routine for organizing your teen’s backpack and notebooks. Get familiar with the school’s website and apps for viewing classes, assignments, events, and grades.
  3. Review accommodations. You and your teen should review his IEP or 504 Plan before school begins to ensure he has appropriate accommodations. If these supports fall short, your teen should be prepared to advocate for himself.
  4. Listen up. After a tiring day of holding it together in school, your teen’s anxiety may worsen when he gets home. Be calm and accepting. Ask open-ended questions to gain insight. Create an atmosphere where your teen feels heard and can safely express his fears and concerns.
  5. Work on time management. Help your teen assess the time required to complete a project or assignment. Then use time-tracking apps that let your teen set time markers for each step of a task from beginning through completion.
  6. Encourage study buddies. Study groups and tutors can help lighten your teen’s memory load. Peer support and mentor programs may also help teens with ADHD navigate the social dynamics at school. Is your teen interested in tennis or swimming? Joining a sports team and pairing up with an older student on that team can foster a feeling of belonging and support.

9th Grade Readiness: Next Steps

Caroline Maguire, M.Ed., ACCG, PCC, is the author of Why Will No One Play with Me?

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