Reply To: How can I help him focus in school?

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Let’s start with helping the teacher understand that it is not a question of ambition, but of an actual physical disability. Mad parent faces, disparaging teachers, and hopeful pretense are a waste of time. Been there, done that twice for myself and my son, and we both have T-Shirts that say “What was I supposed to do?”

Daily report cards are just one more way for the system to provide negative feedback. Try positive structure. For example:

1. If your son has a friend, ask him to help your son remember his homework. If that’s not appropriate, call the teacher and ask her for the assignment as soon as you get home, or as soon as he gets home and you realize he forgot it. If the teacher doesn’t like it, too bad. That’s what they make Principals for, and School Boards, too. Remember this behavior is not being lazy, forgetful, or stupid. You have to be the advocate FOR your son so the school system doesn’t chew him up and spit him out.

2. No homework in rooms where distractions are everywhere! That includes bedrooms and TV rooms. Also plan on sitting with your son while he does his homework so you can chat every so often and take a break. Short spurts of close attention are good habits to form, with a break to relax the brain. Even getting up, having a snack or juice. That’s how I continue to work today!

4. Make a special place to put the homework in his backpack. Put it there every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Another good habit to form. When he’s a busy executive with his own company, he’ll have a to-do list that he puts in the same place in his desk – every single day. Or like me, he’ll have a To-Do App.

3. It’s okay for the teacher to ask him for his homework. Being able to pass in homework should not be a test. If he needs a reminder, that’s fine, too. If he turns it in a day late because it was in that one place in his backpack, that’s okay. Or, the teacher can just check the homework place in his backpack.

Your son is 9 years old. He doesn’t need tests of character or memory. He needs patience and support. It doesn’t matter if he’s ambitious, and frankly, I’d be worried if he were.

You have some awesome recommendations about exercise and color coding (which works for me to this day!). Make it a game to find things that work, and let him experience his creativity and insight. One of the great things about people with ADD is our empathy, creativity, and ability to think outside all of the boxes. Unlike, apparently, his teacher. Those are benefits, not burdens. The other stuff is just minor inconvenience that good organization fixes.

Love him first, fix him later. Or never.

Cindy Weinmann – #1 of 3 generations of awesome people with ADD